What is the Shabbath?

by Melech ben Ya'aqov

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The Shabbath occurs once every seven days and is generally translated as "The Day of Rest". On Shabbath we are supposed to refrain from something called "melacha" (מלאכה). There are many different opinions as to what this word means, and both the Rabbis and certain sects of the Karaites have developed their own particular opinions of its meaning. But the simple and straightforward meaning of the word is "work" or "necessary tasks". We shall explore the details a bit later in this article.

Rakefet (Cyclamen) in the Jerusalem Forest, Israel | © Melech ben Ya'aqov, Karaite Insights
Rakefet (Cyclamen) in the Jerusalem Forest, Israel


Shabbath in the Torah

Shabbath and the reasons we are meant to keep it are mentioned numerous times throughout the Torah. For instance, in the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20] we read, "Remember the Shabbath day and make it holy. Six days [you may] work and do all of your necessary tasks. But the seventh day is the Shabbath to Yehowah, your god. Do not do any work — you, your son, your daughter, your male and female servants, your animals, and the foreigner who lives among you in your territory." And in Exodus 23:12 we see, "Six days you shall do your necessary work and on the seventh day you shall stop, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and that the son of your female slave as well as the stranger may refresh themselves."

So the reason we are commanded to keep the Shabbath is clear: everybody needs a rest from work, and the Shabbath is the day that we are allowed to rest, as well as the day that we are to allow everybody else in our society to rest — even if they have the lowest social standing. This social justice aspect of the Shabbath cannot be overlooked, and is, in fact, the central aspect of the Shabbath. The examples given in the Torah of those who are allowed to rest (slaves, foreigners, animals) are the same ones who might most easily be abused and taken advantage of by the more powerful in society. Thus, the reason that they are given as examples in the Torah is not to say that specifically these people may rest, but to say that even these people may rest. Yehowah cannot change their status as slaves or outsiders (he does not interfere in human affairs in that way), but his kindness is that he is with them and caring for them even in their downtrodden state. Yehowah protects us, even when we are at our lowest.


Different Definitions of melacha (מלאכה)

Melacha, that which we are forbidden to do on Shabbath, is defined in various ways by various groups within Judaism. These definitions range from the very conservative to the bizarre.

For instance, the Rabbis, demonstrating their typical excessive legalism, define melacha as "certain specific types of activities related to the building of the tabernacle in the desert" 1, regardless of the context in which the activity takes place. The complicated Rabbinical system of melacha is highly counter-intuitive, and in many cases allows for activities which should clearly be forbidden on Shabbath, while forbidding activities which should clearly be allowed. An example should illustrate the point:

According to the Rabbis, if you carry anything, no matter how large or how small, from a private residence (רשות היחיד) into a public space (רשות הרבים), you have done a melacha. So, in many Rabbinical communities around the world, you will see people wearing their keys around their necks on the Shabbath. Why would they do such a thing? The reason is that it is forbidden by the Rabbis to carry even a key from one's private residence into a public area on the Shabbath. Therefore, they wear their keys around their necks in order that it now becomes "like an article of clothing" rather than an object being carried! 2 (Two thousand years of exile with nothing to do except write more and more laws does have its strange consequences.)

On the other hand, as I used to learn in Rabbinical yeshivas, it is technically allowed by the Rabbis for a person to rearrange heavy furniture in his house on the Shabbath, because he is carrying the furniture only within the confines of his own private residence and not into a public area! The bizarre system of Rabbinical melacha is complicated, and contradictions abound, but it is not in the scope of this article to dwell upon it.


So Then What is Melacha?

So what is the true definition of melacha? The word melacha appears, in its various grammatical forms, sixty-nine times in the Tanach, and each time it means precisely the same thing:

A melacha is an activity which must be done in order to accomplish a certain desired goal.

So for example, sweeping the house is an example of a melacha because one must sweep the house in order to achieve the desired goal of making the house clean. And going to work during the week is melacha because one must work in order to achieve the desired goal of making money. (The fact that one may enjoy his work does not detract from the fact that the main reason we go to work is to make money.) 3

What, then, would not be a melacha? That which a person does for pure enjoyment in and of itself rather than as a means to an end. So for example, playing music, taking a leisurely walk, doing some relaxing gardening, painting or drawing — all of these would not be forms of melacha.

This brings us to a second definition of melacha:

A melacha is something that a person does as a means to an end rather than as an end in and of itself.

Therefore, melacha can correctly be translated as "necessary work" or "necessary tasks".


Examples of Melecha

The following are examples of melacha, and are therefore forbidden on Shabbath:

  • Harvesting one's field because the wheat needs to go to market soon
  • Going to work to make money
  • Jogging to lose weight
  • Walking 3 hours in the heat to get to your mother's house
  • Painting the house because it hasn't had a fresh paint job in years
  • Reading a book because you have a paper due on it on Monday

The following are examples of that which is not a melacha, and therefore permitted on Shabbath:

  • Reading an enjoyable book
  • Doing some relaxing gardening
  • Playing a musical instrument for fun and relaxation
  • Meditating
  • Taking a leisurely walk
  • Writing poetry
  • Spending time with friends
  • Sleeping, Eating, Having sex

Another way to look at melacha is the following:

Ask yourself, "If I had a day off and had absolutely nothing to worry about (no money to make, no weight to lose, nothing that needs fixing, etc.) how would I spend my day?" Whatever your answer is, that is what you are allowed to and even encouraged to do on the Shabbath. Would you rest? Take a walk through the woods? Read a book? Get together with friends? Then these are all things that are not melacha, and that you are permitted to do on the Shabbath.

But you probably wouldn't go jogging, go to work, fix the plumbing, or do your taxes. Therefore, these things are melacha and are forbidden on the Shabbath.

The idea is quite simple actually — so simple, in fact, that we seem to have lost focus of its simplicity: Shabbath is a day off, a day of rest, a day which is meant to be filled with those things in life which are enjoyable and relaxing and pleasurable and spiritual. That's it! Anything that falls outside the scope of this definition is melacha. Anything that falls within the scope of this definition is not melacha and is permitted on the Shabbath. The same applies whether you are a prince or the son of a maidservant.


Can I Kindle a Fire on the Shabbath?

Karaites traditionally interpret the verses forbidding the burning of a fire on the Shabbath [Exodus 35:3] 4 as meaning that no fire whatsoever may remain lit once the Shabbath comes in and until the Shabbath goes out. From this traditional Karaite interpretation comes the Rabbinical tradition to make hamin (cholent) on Shabbath. Hamin is a stew that is placed on the fire before the Shabbath and left to cook throughout the Shabbath. Said the Rabbis, if one refuses to make hamin on Shabbath, one is suspected of being a Karaite. (We should all be so lucky!) Is the traditional Karaite understanding correct? Is the Rabbinical way of seeing it correct? It is hard to know. One possible compromise in our modern age is to completely refrain from the use of fire on the Shabbath but to permit the use of electricity. This is the approach that this website recommends.


Can I Leave My House on the Shabbath?

In Exodus 16 the children of Israel begin, for the first time, to receive man (manna) from heaven. Though they are told to collect a double portion on Friday and then rest from collecting on the Shabbath, certain Israelites (stubborn as we traditionally are) decide to go out to collect manna even on the Shabbath, but do not find any. Moshe, in response to this incident, reiterates to the children of Israel, "Look, because Yehowah has given you the Shabbath, on Friday he gives you a portion for two days. So let each person stay near his home, and nobody should go out from his place on the seventh day." [Exodus 16:29]

From this verse, the Rabbis have developed the idea of תחום שבת (Shabbath area), a region of approximately 3,000 feet from one's home, beyond which a person is not allowed to walk on the Shabbath. Certain Karaites (fortunately, a very small minority) have taken this idea a step farther and will not even go out of their houses on the Shabbath. (I once even met a man who calls himself a Karaite who would not get out of his bed for the entire Shabbath!)

Both the Rabbanites at large and the few Karaites who give these verses extreme interpretations have forgotten a basic principle of scriptural interpretation: all verses must be evaluated within their textual context. If we look at the context of Exodus 16:29, we see that Moshe is not admonishing the children of Israel, in general terms, to remain near their homes on the Shabbath. Rather, it is in the context of the very specific situation of the Israelites wandering off to gather the mannah on the Shabbath.

Therefore, there is no general prohibition against walking far away from one's home on the Shabbath. Like the incident in Exodus 16, each journey must be taken in its own context: Is it tiring, not pleasurable, or done for a reason other than enjoyment? Or, is it pleasurable, relaxing, spiritual, and done for the sake of enjoying a walk? If the former is the case, then it would most likely be forbidden. However, if the latter is the answer, then not only would it be permitted, it would be encouraged. For example, a 3 hour walk to get to one's mother's house (or one's Rabbi's house, something I used to see frequently in Jerusalem) in the blazing summer heat would be forbidden, whereas a leisurely hike in the woods would be permitted even if it lasted 5 hours, so long as it were pleasurable to the participants.

Does that mean that we cannot learn any general principles from the verses in Exodus 16? We certainly can. Using these verses, as well as others in the Tanach which deal with Shabbath and melacha, we can derive an overall idea of what is forbidden on the Shabbath and what is permitted. But we should not make the mistake of turning this specific incident into a generalization. The problem here was not that the Israelites wandered too far from their homes per se, it was that they did so in order to gather the manna. It was the gathering of the mannah that was the melacha, not the wandering. Since the wandering was for the sake of gathering the mannah, it becomes, by extension, a melacha in this specific context.


Does Shabbath Have to Be on a Saturday?

One of the questions which I am constantly asked by former gentiles making their way into Karaism is whether Shabbath must be on a Saturday. The idea that it must be on Saturday comes from two questionable assumptions: (1) That Saturday is the actual "anniversary" of the day within the seven day week on which Yehowah rested from creating the universe, and (2) That the Shabbath has to be the same day as this anniversary. If either one of these assumptions is incorrect, then Shabbath does not have to be on a Saturday. While there is no outright proof that the first assumption is not correct, there is also no outright proof that it is. Through all the trials and tribulations that humanity has experienced over the past 5,000 years, we have no proof whatsoever that our current Saturday is the actual seven-day "anniversary" of the original Shabbath of Creation. Likewise, the Rabbinical year (5768 as of this writing) is only a guesstimate rather than a cold, hard fact. (More likely than not, the current year is not what the Rabbinical calendar says it is.) To illustrate this point, I borrow a quote from the character Morpheus in the movie The Matrix, who, explaining his post-apocalyptic world, says, "You believe it's the year 1999 when in fact it's closer to 2199. I can't tell you exactly what year it is, because we honestly don't know."

As for the second assumption, this too comes from the flawed Rabbinical concept that the essence of the Shabbath is the celebration of the seventh-day "anniversary" of Yehowah's rest-after-creation. In fact, the essence of the Shabbath is not the seventh day, but the rest. As usual, the Rabbis have switched the focus of this crucial holiday away from its humanistic and social justice aspects, and placed it on the symbolic and ritualistic aspects. From a Karaite point of view, we do not celebrate the Shabbath because it is some esoteric and mystical anniversary of an original Shabbath, we celebrate it so that we can rest, so that our dependents can rest, and so that our animals can rest. This is the essence of the Shabbath. Shabbath, and indeed the entire Torah, is about serving Elohim through serving our fellow man. Thus, theoretically speaking, it does not matter what day the Shabbath falls on; it only matters that on every seventh day, the entire society is allowed a day of rest, physical and spiritual rejuvenation, and holiness.

Do I therefore recommend that you start celebrating Shabbath on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Sunday? No, I do not. I personally celebrate the Shabbath on Saturday, and will continue to do so. This is the day that the people of Israel have currently chosen for the Shabbath, and the Shabbath must be a national rather than an individual effort. But let us not harbor the illusion that the day the nation has chosen is the exact same day on which Elohim rested, or that it even needs to be. What is important and central to the idea of the Shabbath is that on every seventh day, all people and animals get a chance to rest.


Do the Other Nations Have to Keep The Shabbath?

First of all, it is clear from what I have written above, that even if the other nations do have to keep the Shabbath, it does not necessarily have to be on a Saturday. Each society may choose its own day, and as long as all the members of that society are allowed to rest on that day, then that society is, in effect, keeping the Shabbath. But now the question arises, "Do they have to?" The answer to this question actually raises a much more general question: "Do the nations other than Israel have to keep the Torah at all? If so, what parts of it must they keep?"

To answer that the other nations do not have to keep the Torah at all is clearly flawed, since no thinking person can imagine that other nations should be permitted to commit murder, theft and adultery. On the other hand, to answer that the other nations must keep the entire Torah is equally flawed, since, for instance, what relevance would keeping the detailed laws of Passover have to another nation, inasmuch as Passover specifically celebrates the freeing of Israel from Egypt? The answer, in my opinion, lies somewhere in-between. The laws of the Torah are meant for Israel, but Israel, in keeping them, is in turn meant to set an example for the rest of the nations.

In other words, that which is mentioned in Deuteronomy 4:6 is supposed to happen: "So keep them and do them because this is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations, who will hear all these laws and say, 'This is certainly a wise and understanding nation, this great nation.' " 5 After coming to this conclusion, other nations will naturally want to emulate many of our laws. When they do, Israel's role in the world is actualized. (For a further explanation of this idea, I recommend reading my book, The Torah and the Marketplace of Ideas.)

Therefore, to return to the specific question of the Shabbath, my answer is as follows: The other nations are not explicitly required to keep the Shabbath, but as Israel's influence in the world grows, other nations, seeing the beauty and wisdom of the Shabbath, will choose to integrate the idea into their own societies. Indeed, this is exactly what has happened, as both Christian and Muslim societies do keep a form of the Shabbath, and just about all societies around the modern world have the concept of a day off from work, whereas this was not the case 2,000 years ago.


Can I Carry on the Shabbath?

We spoke a bit earlier about carrying, when we gave an example of a Rabbinical misunderstanding of melacha. But what, then, are the actual laws related to carrying on the Shabbath from a Karaite perspective?

Since the Rabbis base their ideas on Jeremiah 17:19-27, let's look at those verses: "So says Yehowah, Guard your souls and do not carry a heavy burden (משא) on the Shabbath day to bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a heavy burden (משא) out of your house on the Shabbath day, and don't do any melacha. Rather, make the Shabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers." [verses 21-22]

What does this mean? Is Jeremiah actually telling us that it is forbidden to carry even a key or a donut out of our houses on the Shabbath? To answer this question, we must examine both the language and the context of the above verses.

The Hebrew word used by Jeremiah to describe that which is being carried is "משא" (transliteration: massah), which means "a heavy burden", from the Hebrew verb לשאת, "to lift". The word massah implies the lifting or transport of heavy burdens. For instance, many prophets speak figuratively about their משא, or "heavy burden" of bringing Yehowah's words to Israel: "The burden (משא) of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi" [Malachi 1:1]. As another example, in Leviticus 11:11, Moshe complains to God about the heavy burden of leading Israel: "Why have you done evil to your servant and why have I not found favor in your eyes that you place the burden (משא) of this entire people upon me?" 6

But the clearest proof comes from Nehemia 13:15-22. History repeats itself, and we see an almost exact replay of the events mentioned in Jeremiah 17: "In those days I saw among the Jews, those who were trampling in the winepress on the Shabbath and bringing piles [of grain] and loading them onto their donkeys; and wine, grapes and figs, and all kinds of loads (משא), and bringing them into Jerusalem on the Shabbath day..." As in Jeremiah, the word used to describe the loads being brought into Jerusalem is massah [verse 15]. And, just like Jeremiah, Nehemiah complains about this profanation of the Shabbath: "And I took up the cause of [God's] anger against the Jews, and I said to them, 'What is this evil thing you are doing to profane the Shabbath?' " [verse 17]

It is a fact that every instance of the word משא throughout the entire Tanach implies a "heavy load" or a "heavy burden".

Thus, it is absurd to assume that we must refrain from carrying small, personal items on the Shabbath. We may carry keys, a morsel of food, an umbrella, or whatever else we need to, as long as it is not overly heavy and burdensome. But, we cannot rearrange our furniture, bring 100 kilos of wheat into our granary, or carry a delivery of bricks from our front yard to our back yard.

Though the Rabbis accuse the Karaites of over-literalizing the Torah, ironically, it is the Rabbis who are constantly guilty of over-literalization of the text, to the point where their laws have become a laughing stock in the eyes of a large portion of the nation of Israel, odious as vomit to the entire world, and a profanation of Yehowah's name upon the face of the earth. Their over-literalizastions are done, always, at the sacrifice of proper context. It is the Karaites who seek, and who have always sought, a proper and balanced understanding of the Torah, based on evidence from ancient interpretations as well as linguistic and contextual analysis.


When Can I Do melacha On the Shabbath?

Can I ever do a melacha on Shabbath? What if I am in danger of losing life or limb? What if I am in danger of losing a large sum of money? Can I even clear the table of dishes after the Shabbath meal? (After all, that is a melacha.) To answer this question, we must examine an important general principle behind the laws of melacha, and, indeed, behind all the commandments of the Torah.

The Rabbis have a concept of "piquah nefesh", which, loosely translated, means "the right to violate a Torah commandment in order to save your own (or another's) life". I actually happen to agree with this idea, but I would state it in much more general terms.

I always like to say that every commandment in the Torah has a "secret clause" attached to it. The secret clause is, "unless there is a really good reason not to." This "secret clause" can be attached to the end of any commandment in the Torah. In other words, all Torah commandments actually say, "Do such and such, unless there is a really good reason not to." "Keep the Shabbath, unless there is a really good reason not to." "Eat only a clean animal, unless there is a really good reason not to", etc.

In modern jurisprudence, we would call this concept "mitigating circumstances". In other words, if I do melacha on the Shabbath — yes, I have violated a commandment of the Torah. That is the fact. But what should my punishment be, both in the eyes of Elohim and from a human court of law? The answer to that question may be influenced by the mitigating circumstances of my case, which reduce both the theoretical guilt and the actual punishment meted out.

For instance, if I violated the Shabbath because my child was sick and I had to get him medicine or else he would be in danger of losing his life — well, that is a pretty strong mitigating circumstance. Take that story to any judge (human or heavenly) who has even a bit of mercy in his heart, and he will surely understand your dilemma. (A judge might claim that you should have gotten the medicine before the Shabbath, and he may therefore fine you a certain amount of money; but no judge in his right mind is going to prescribe the death penalty for saving your child, even if you did, unfortunately, violate the Shabbath.)

As another case, let's say you are walking down the street and you smell a pork barbeque. You can't control yourself, and you join the party and partake. Obviously, you are guilty of violating the Torah commandment against not eating unclean animals. But again, even in this case, there may be mitigating circumstances. You did not eat the animal in order to deliberately violate the Torah; the flesh is weak, and you gave in to your weaknesses this time, and probably felt very guilty about it afterwards. A wise judge, hearing this case, would realize that even here there are mitigating circumstances and would reduce the penalty accordingly.

The point is, the written Torah is the basis for our lives and for our true Israelite society, but it is not the only element. Yehowah gave us — in addition to the written Torah — minds, hearts and souls, and we are meant to use these gifts in order to flesh out the written Torah into a full-fledged, functioning set of laws to govern our society. 7 Thus, the written Torah is our "Constitution", the basis of our society — just as the American Constitution is the basis of American society — but it must be fleshed out into a complete, functioning society. Therefore, in the case of the violation of a Torah commandment, each situation must be considered based on its own merits, using wisdom and logic. That is the reason that Elohim commands us to choose wise judges. [i.e. Exodus 18:21]

On the issue of doing melacha on the Shabbath, one can say that, theoretically, we should not do any melacha whatsoever on the Shabbath, but that practically speaking, we may have to perform certain melachot at certain times for certain reasons. If the melacha is kept to a minimum, and the reasons are pressing, then, although we have done a melacha, there are mitigating circumstances. The smaller the melacha and the greater the urgency for its doing, the greater the mitigating circumstances. Obviously, this "loophole" should not be taken advantage of, but should be used wisely, and in conjunction with an honest attempt to walk straight with our Elohim.


What About Isaiah 58:13?

Another question that I receive constantly concerns Isaiah 58:13-14, which is typically translated into English as, "If you turn away your foot from the Shabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Shabbath a delight — the holy of Yehowah — honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then shall you delight yourself in Yehowah; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. For the mouth of Yehowah has spoken it."

Many Karaites who read the Tanach primarily in English, reason, from these verses, that one should refrain from doing the things that they enjoy on the Shabbath and that the Shabbath is supposed to be a day of the holding back of pleasures.

The problem here is that the standard English translation of the Hebrew is horrible. If we look at the original Hebrew, we see that what is really going on in Isaiah 58:13 is that the thing that Yehowah is asking us to hold back from on the Shabbath is חפצך (transliteration: ha-fa-tzeh-cha). A more accurate translation of this word would be "that which you so like to do", or "that which your heart lusts after", and is not at all a reference to pleasurable things, but, rather, to the various forms of melacha that Israel is required to refrain from on the Shabbath, but which they take such pleasure in doing anyway — primarily, business.

Thus, a more accurate and expressive translation of Isaiah 58:13 would be, "If you [Israel] would only hold back your [straying] feet on the Shabbath, and from doing [those forbidden activities] which [in your rebelliousness] you so like to do on my Holy Day, and [instead] would call the Shabbath a delight and a sanctification of Yehowah — an honor; and honor it by [refraining from] doing your [evil] ways, and from seeking out [all those forbidden activities] which you so like to do, and from discussing words [of business], then shall you delight yourself in Yehowah; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth ..."

The Shabbath is not in the least meant to be a day of refraining from pleasure. On the contrary, it is meant to be the most pleasurable day of the entire week. All those things which bring rest, relaxation and pleasure to your body, mind and soul are meant to be done on the Shabbath, and anything that does not is not only discouraged, it is outright forbidden to do on the Shabbath!


Shabbath Shalom!

May this coming Shabbath and every future Shabbath throughout your life be one of peace, happiness, rest, relaxation and rejuvenation of your mind, body and soul. Shabbath Shalom.

1The 39 "melachot".
2Realizing the ridiculousness of this law, the Rabbis have developed a workaround known as "eruv", which uses a legalistic loophole by which entire neighborhoods or even cities may be symbolically "tied" into one private area with a giant rope or other similar boundary, within which the prohibition against carrying does not apply. (An entire tractate in the Talmud, Tractate Eruvin, deals with this completely unnecessary subject.) In many Rabbinical communities, you can actually see the eruv, which is generally strung along telephone or electrical poles. Just before Shabbath comes in, the eruv is checked to make sure that it has not developed any gaps, as even a single gap will render it null and void. It is very typical of Rabbinical jurisprudence to develop an untenable law, then, realizing the untenability of that law, to develop an equally ridiculous workaround to the original law. The whole of Rabbinical halacha is layers upon layers of complicated and unnecessary legislation. In this context, the Karaite movement can be thought of as a "back to the basics" way of interpreting the Torah.
3And if you don't believe me, then prove it: go to your boss tomorrow and tell him that you have decided that you love your work so much, you are going to forgo your salary from now on.
4לא תבערו אש בכל משבתיכם ביום השבת — You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day. [Exodus 35:4]
5ושמרתם ועשיתם כי הוא חכמתכם ובינתכם לעיני העמים אשר ישמעון את כל החקים האלה ואמרו רק עם חכם ונבון הגוי הגדול הזה
6Other examples of the use of the word include Numbers 4:47, referring to the carrying of the tent of meeting through the desert, and Nehemia 5:7, where Nehemia complains to the Jewish nobles that they are exacting heavy interest from their Jewish brothers.
7One might, at first glance, think that this is the same as the Rabbinical "Oral Law". There are, however, vast differences: (1) The Rabbis claim that their "Oral Law" was given at Mount Sinai and then passed down orally through the generations, whereas we Karaites make no such claim about the system of law which we flesh out from the written Torah. We merely say that the Torah must be fleshed out by human beings using their God-given resources of mind, intuition, and wisdom. (2) While some of the more intelligent Rabbis openly admit that the Rabbinical "Oral Law" was not given at Mount Sinai, but rather that it developed over time, nonetheless, these Rabbis still hold the Rabbinical "Oral Law" to be canonical, meaning that it cannot be violated and that it has some kind of divine or semi-divine status. As a Karaite, I promote the wholescale discarding of Rabbinical "Oral Law", since it is the product of the galut (exile), developed during and following the late Second Temple period, and based heavily on the influence of Greek, Babylonian, Persian and other pagan cultures. I promote its replacement, from the ground up, with a new set of laws that is more faithful to our ancient and eternal Israelite culture, and that is more appropriate to the current situation of our nation, as defined by our return to the Land of Israel. Thus, our journey comes full circle; while the less intelligent Rabbis see our journey as a downward slope (the "Oral Law" was given at Sinai and then diluted down through the generations), and the more intelligent Rabbis see our journey as an upwards slope (the "Oral Law" was developed over the generations), I see our journey as a giant circle: we started with wisdom, knowledge and closeness to Elohim, with Moshe, Yehoshua, the Judges and the early Kings; we fell into troubled times with the later Kings and then the Babylonian exile, and never quite regained our status during the Second Temple period. Then we were decimated and permanently exiled after the revolt against Rome, followed by the Bar Kochba Rebellions, and descended into the deep, dark winter of exile, from which we began to emerge only within the last century and a half. Since then, it has been uphill: Yehowah has remarkably returned us to our ancient homeland, albeit kicking and screaming, and he has miraculously helped us to conquer Jerusalem. But there have been elements within the nation that have refused to ride the wave of geulah (redemption) and have stubbornly clung to their old galut (exile) ways. These modes of thought were partially eliminated with the Holocaust, which directly led to the founding of the State of Israel, and, I believe, will soon be further eliminated with another Holocaust, after which the fraction of the nation that remains will be ready to ascend the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple. Thus, the troubles going on right now are actually the final cleaning out of all the filth and mud of the exile, including the entire Rabbinical influence upon the nation, and preparation for its replacement with our ancient system of government and law. Rabbinical Judaism has no place in our restored ancient system, and I believe that the events of the near future will completely decimate Rabbinical Judaism and its proponents.The Rabbinical "Oral Law", being a product not of true Torah, but of the exile, causes Israel to remain mentally in the exile, and therefore, as long as the Rabbinical Oral Law remains popular, Yehowah's fury will continue to grow, until the exile is ripped away from us before our very eyes, just as was the case in the Holocaust, when Jews preferred the lands of Europe to the Land of Israel.

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This Article Has 18 Comments

Driving on Shabbath
Therese Gosselin, Kingston Nova Scotia
That was my question. Your site helped me. Thanks. Stay faithful to YHVH. Shalom
Yelena, Plainsboro
I am a Jew who has recently discovered the many inconsistencies in Talmud. I crave to learn more about Karaism and get in contact with a Karaite who can answer some of my questions. Thank you for this piece. It is interesting how much fun one can have on Shabbos following Karaism vs. the Rabbinical Shabbat restrictions I am used to. Karaism needs to have open debates with Rabbanites. They need to spread the word about the beauty of Judaism they teach.
TJC, winston salem
What is your opinion on keeping the Sabbath according to the New Moon? [A load of baloney. -ed]
The Sabbath
Dorothy Barry, Caloundra,
Thank you for this wonderful article on the Sabbath. You explained it really clearly. I have been keeping the Sabbath for a short time now but I was not sure about what we were allowed to do on this day. Thank you. I am looking forward to reading your other articles. Do you send out newsletters? If so my email is Dor... Bye for now, Dorothy Barry, Australia [You've been added to the mail list. -ed]
Seventh Day Shabbath
Verna Forristal, Wichita, KS
I personally believe that Saturday is Shabbath, and that no other day will do. I base this belief on the fact that after YHVH brought Israel out of Egypt, he made a very distinct effort to show them which day is the seventh day. He did this with the example of the manna. You see, during creation, it was the SEVENTH day that He blessed and set apart as the day of rest. If he didn't care what day we rested, He would not have made the seventh day holy at the time of creation, He would have just rested. Verna Forristal
Following to my previous comment, I should like to add that, as far as I understand Hebrew, when the Torah gives instructions and the verb is stated in the past tense, it denotes: a duty to ... . If by the "delight" is meant the spiritual, then all people have the possibility to fulfill the duty. On the contrary, if it were meant sexual, then unmarried people, widows and divorced people would not have the possibility to fulfill it; otherwise they would commit sin. It is evident that what is allowed on the Shabbath is what is allowed to all people and not what is allowed to someones and prohibited to others. [Then maybe people shouldn't eat on the Shabbath because some people are too sick to eat or have a cold and can't taste the food. -ed]
The article is good. However, you say that sexual relations are not forbidden on the Shabbath. This is not the position of the Israeli Karaite Hakhamim who explain: "On Shabbath evenings, holidays, special days and fasts, it is prohibited to have sex because it makes one impure (and therefore unable to enter the synagogue) and you are not allowed to purify oneself (i.e. shower) on the holy day. Sex is prohibited on the Shabbath because the day is considered a holy day for God. One should concern oneself with the spiritual instead of the physical." [Yes, I completely disagree with this interpretation, and consider it to be a result of the Rabbanization and asceticization of the Egyptian Karaites. -ed]
What Day is the Sabbath?
Larry Sterner, Denver
I believe you are wrong for the simple reason that New Moon after New Moon and Sabbath after Sabbath all flesh shall appear before Jehovah. I had to come back and review your opinion of what is permitted on the Sabbath on 7-25-2010 because of your invitation to listen to You via pal talk during the Sabbath of 7-24. You Play With FIRE, Jehovah Tests his people. Bless the Sovereign God of Israel.
The Shabbat
Texicansrus, Scotland
Very good study! Thought provoking also. Some of the things that you mention in the study, I am going to have to study out. All in all it is very good. I'm going to send the url to the TTS forum for others to read and study out, and discuss also. Shabbat Shalom!
J.S., Rome, GA
Melech, your article has definitely shed some light on the Shabbat for me. I am curious though as to whether you believe that buying or selling is forbidden on Shabbat? For example going out to eat with close friends etc.
Shabbat Shalom - Article
Ewan Retief, Johannesburg, South Africa
Thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts on Shabbat. I am not a born Jew but I see myself as part of Israel. I am turning towards keeping Torah and in that light this article is of much help to me. Also the comments help to give balance to the article. I trust the views of the Karait for they hold the Tanak as the only guide and rule. May YHWH bless you and keep you. Ewan
Keeping the Sabbath
Kitty Corbett, Marietta, GA
I appreciate the article and especially your advice to do that which is enjoyable on the sabbath, things that aren't strictly necessary and would not find a slot in a busy working 6-day week. But I disagree about the total flexibility of non-Jews to keep any day as though it were the sabbath, just so long as it is the same day each week and the community agree on it. Keeping the sabbath is the test commandment and it is quite specific; hallowing any other day is flying in the face of the Almighty. Sabbath-keeping is also the sign between YHVH and His people, distinguishing them from those who follow after other gods. There is but one law for all who would be righteous.
The Shabbot
Norman Pigeon, Bright,Ontario, Canada
Greetings in the name of Yahweh! Your writings are very interesting and after reading the article on what is 'work' and not 'work' on the Shabbot, I find what you allow appears not to line up with the whole intent of spending time with and in the presence of Yahweh. This I mention because in Isaiah 58: 13&14 refraining from doing 'our pleasures' is very plainly mentioned, rather we are to delight in Father's presence and learn to have intimate times with Him in contrast to; The following are examples of that which is not a melacha, and therefore permitted on Shabbat: * Reading an enjoyable book * Doing some relaxing gardening * Playing a musical instrument for fun and relaxation * Meditating * Taking a leisurely walk * Writing poetry * Spending time with friends * Sleeping, Eating, Having sex Blessings from Yahweh be upon you and yours, Norman
Great Article
Brandon, NJ
I am Jewish, but don't really associate myself with any particular sect. Thus I have started to read about many of them, and Karaism seems to me to be one of the ones that makes the most sense and that I can logically identify with. You have made so many good points and provided so much insight in your article and I thank you for that. But it really kills me to see the tone in which you refer to other Jews who may have different views. "Their laws have become a laughing stock in the eyes of a large portion of the nation of Israel, odious as vomit to the entire world, and a profanation of Yehowah's name upon the face of the earth. Their over-literalizastions are done, always, at the sacrifice of proper context." Now first let me just say that I am no orthodox Jew, and second let me tell you that I agree with you that a good portion of the things that they practice and believe are probably ridiculous and definitely should not be considered canonized commandments meant for all, but that message comes across clearly through your logic, not your descriptions of odious vomit. And the 7th footnote, "I believe that the events of the near future will completely decimate Rabbinical Judaism and its proponents... as long as the Rabbinical Oral Law remains popular, Yehowah's fury will continue to grow." Do you really think that G-d is furious at children who grow up learning ways to serve him which might have slight nuances that happen to be incorrect? Are they not trying to serve Him as best as they think or know is possible? Are we all not Jews, for you to use the word decimate, and seem like you welcome it? I don't think redemption will come through the decimation of rabbinical judaism and its supporters. I think redemption will come when we rid the sources of animosity that cause fellow Jews to make statements like that about others. That being said, I thought that the article was very insightful on the whole, and I learned a lot from it.
Shabbat Article
Ya'aqov Ben Yisrael, LEESVILLE
Shalom Melech, I think you did a really great job. Todah Rabbah
Praise and Constructive Criticism
Zvi, Karmiel, Israel
~All Praise be to YHWH~ Many Qaraite Sages of Blessed Memory distinguished between three categories of prohibitions concerning MELAKHA on Shabbat: (a.) "melakha" (b.) work (`avoda) (c.) action (`aseeya) Each category was found by those Sages to be included within each of the two others, hence the traditional Qaraite stance holds all three to be forbidden on Shabbat. I believe this argument holds some merit, which is one reason for my hesitation, upon second reflection, in accepting your definition of melakha. While I laud your fantastic analysis of the MASSA concept and fully accept that carrying light objects is permitted on the Shabbat, I think IMHO that you lost some sight of another aspect which is the maintenance of the Shabbat's holiness (explicitly commanded within the Torah, "Keep/remember the Shabbat to consecrate it") which, I believe, behooves us to be cautious against creating any artistic content that smacks of commerce, business, monetary issues or economy, lewdness, licentiousness, let alone heresy. IMO this point should have been driven home within the article. Similarly, I accept the traditional Qaraite argument that negates semen issue and the secretion of female fluids during sexual intercourse that render one impure during Shabbat, since this position holds purity to be synonymous with holiness. Try as I might, I see no reason to reject this position and it seems totally and firmly founded to me. So then, I'm all for sex on Shabbat provided the couple can manage no intercourse. Also, the performance of some gardening during Shabbat doesn't seem right to me since it is "work" or "action" per the aforementioned classification, plus one might get carried away by their enthusiasm and reach the point of fatigue which is the opposite of what Yehaweh wanted us to accomplish on Shabbat.
Rabbinical disaster
Edoardo Shmuel Recanati, Tekoa (Israel)
I believe that God suffers from His People being in exile as much as we do. God said "do not add anything to my Torah, do not make any change, do not substract" He also said "my truth is in front of you, you don't have to go over the ocean to find it". Therefore, this is the reason why we do not succeed in earning our Geulah. The rabbis have hijacked our faith and turned it into a goyish religion, in which their self-made dogms keep them in power and blind the Children of Israel. If we do not open our eyes to the clear written Torah, I am afraid that some catastrophe will determine the solution. What a pity if we cannot avoid all that suffering!
aliza yaffa gutierrez bat avraham avinu, rochester n.y.
melech i;ve never felf so free to follow yhwh's miswa shabbat with such pleasure it made sence for forthe first time in 20yrs. of observance to relax and enjoy and yet feel totally commanded all at once it's awsome you are blessed to teach the miqra keep doing it and soon .shabbat shlom aliza