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The 39 Melachot

The 39 Melachot

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There are thirty-nine general categories of labor that are forbidden on Shabbat. Each of these categories include a range of derivative laws and activities, some of which are described in "The Shabbat Laws." The melachot are generally divided into six groups, classified according to the Mishkan's activities with which they are associated.

Field Work

  • Sowing
  • Plowing
  • Reaping
  • Binding Sheaves
  • Threshing
  • Winnowing
  • Selecting
  • Grinding
  • Sifting
  • Kneading
  • Baking

Making Material Curtains

  • Shearing Wool
  • Cleaning
  • Combing
  • Dyeing
  • Spinning
  • Stretching the Threads
  • Making Loops
  • Weaving Threads
  • Separating the Threads
  • Tying a Knot
  • Untying a Knot
  • Sewing
  • Tearing

Making Leather Curtains

  • Trapping
  • Slaughtering
  • Skinning
  • Tanning
  • Smoothing
  • Ruling Lines
  • Cutting

Making the Beams of the Mishkan

  • Writing
  • Erasing

The Putting up and Taking down of the Mishkan

  • Building
  • Breaking Down

The Mishkan's Final Touches

  • Extinguishing a Fire
  • Kindling a Fire
  • Striking the Final Hammer Blow
  • Carrying
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Anonymous 07208 December 31, 2015

This was extremely helpful for my homework. The only thing it's missing (in my opinion) is the hebrew translations. If I know the hebrew of one of the melachos, but can't remember which one it is, that would make it easier. Reply

Anonymous November 22, 2015

This really helped my homework Reply

Mati יבנאל March 13, 2015

I agree that Shabbat is given to all mankind but certainly the commandment was not. Gentiles don't observe it as a cessation of creation. Rather, if they observe it at all, they observe it as a cessation of work and a time for relaxation. Even Jews will add the concept of relaxation in doing the mitzvah, but it teaches cessation of malacha, creative work. This concept is throughout sefer Sh'mot and only sefer D'varim brings in a concept of rest. Shevat (שבת) is the same word as Sabbath (שבת) and the word does not mean "rest" as in "relax" (נך) but rather means 'rest' as in "a rolling ball finally came to a complete rest." (stop, cessation of motion) Shabbat's 39 divisions of melachot (forbidden "work") are derived in the creation and operation of the Beyt HaMikdash, ie., denotion of creation. For surely there are things permitted to do on the Sabbath that is work in the traditional sense while there are things not permitted to do which are not work in the traditional sense Reply

Anonymous US March 12, 2015

The Shabbat was a gift of God to humankind, given by G-d at creation. It was meant for everyone. G-d asked us to remember it when we left Egypt, guiding our minds to creation as the origin of the Shabbat. By expecting gentiles to do work on the Shabbat when they themselves should be resting on that day, seems to be outside G-d´s original plan for us all, Jews and gentiles. A wise uncle of mine once told me, in regard to the keeping of the Shabbat, that I should be willing to do that which I expected (and hoped) others to do do for me, should I need it. I am an MD and only see absolute emergencies on the Shabbat. However, some people, anxious about their health, ask me questions outside the synagogue. It is a pleasure for me to help relieve their anxiety. Shabbat Shalom! Reply

Mati יבנאל April 2, 2014

I dont' know what is happening in the States and Canada, but here in Israel gentiles are not driving the Jews back. They drive themselves back which is the reason for my orignal post. Reply

Anonymous April 1, 2014

You all make wonderful points. Hashem loves you all. Have a great day!! Reply

Mati Israel February 28, 2014

I don't understand what you mean by "so all other arguments are irrelevant." What arguments concerning gentiles are you referring to since nothing I said concerning gentiles were against the discussion of my arguments that ambulance workers and doctors are going beyond saving lives when it comes to what they do on shabbat like answer phones, carry/use beepers (if there was a saving life issue, why are they using beepers on the other end?), returning home from an emergency, etc.? I think what they are doing is like me grabbing a cigarette from a Jew who in smoking on yom tov, and putting it out "to save his life." Reply

Adam from Toronto Thornhill February 21, 2014

Mati, Shabbat is a gift to Jews only,from HaShem. All others work all 7 days. So all other arguments are irrelevant. That said, you are allowed to break the Shabbat for one thing only-to save a life. Simple like that, you may do everything to work towards it. And after you save it? No more allowance. Hence Jewish EMS has Gentiles to drive them back ☺ Shabbat Shalom Reply

Mati יבנאל February 19, 2014

since she judged my statement as "being judgmental" rather than "a statement of judgment." Of course we all are not interested in having need of such services nor are we interested in getting rid of such. But why is using Jews the answer? Why not use b'nei noach? And why, once the emergency is over, are the allowed to perform other melacha not related to the service they rendered? The answer is money and convenience. Reply

Miriam brooklyn, ny February 19, 2014

Mati, I have a brother who is an EMT and one who is a paramedic. Both work for ambulance companies, though neither (officially) volunteers for Hatzolah. many of their friends do work for hatzolah & they hear many of their stories & then share them with us, their lucky (occasionaly bored) family members. I don't know the details but i know that the Hatzala system is incredibly intricate and thought out. There is a book just for hatzala members about all the halachos for the special situations they may encounter! As lay people, it's easy for me and you to speculate about their operations and assume things like, "What it all comes down to is convenience and money." Personally, I prefer to keep my judgments to myself, to trust Hatzala and their rabbis & to pray that I never need their selfless, professional services! Reply

Mati יבנאל January 2, 2014

It is interesting the idea that it "may" save a life. In America, the dr's answer phones on shabbat when they are at home because it "may" save a life. They also carry beepers. I asked my rav about this and he said such is not permitted. That being said and the comment you gave, it is easy to "plan" for a woman in labor "just in case" and even so, such can still be deemed and unexpected saving of a life...like a car wreck or heart attack. Seems to me that ambulance drivers can still be scheduled to save a life by having non jews as back up and having other jews as backup should a driver end up being stuck at the hospital. What it all comes down to is convenience and money. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org January 1, 2014

The Talmud (Yuma 84b) states that "An uncertainty whether the situation is life-threatening supersedes Shabbos. Not only if it is an uncertainty whether the situation is immediately dangerous, but even if there is no danger now and the situation may create a danger for the future, it still supersedes Shabbos."

Based on this, in a situation where the ambulance driver may be needed again for another emergency, he is permitted to drive back on the Shabbat (See Igros Moshe Orech Chaim 4:80).

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Adam from Toronto thornhill December 31, 2013

Mati, please read "Driving-a-Woman-in-Labor-on-the-Sabbath" on Chabad.org it may give you better understanding

Professional ambulance drivers schedule their shift accordingly.
The Jewish Paramedic Service , Hatzolah, has always a goy on staff to drive them on Shabbat Reply

Mati December 28, 2013

Ambulance drivers are not only exempt from malachot such as driving the ambulance, but even after they deliver their victim, they are permitted to drive home. There is no "saving lives" involved in "driving home". Reply

peter minnesota December 12, 2013

can somebody post the scriptures of where these 39 prohibitions come from? Reply

Adam From Toronto Toronto, ontario July 19, 2012

I have a problem with Menachem Posner's response. Pikuach nefesh is to save a life, NOT life hood. Calling 911 is another prohibition. Best one can do is to solicit a goy to offer a help and either call 911 or put out the fire. Period.
Jack, Midland Park, NjJ, their judgement was perfect. Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org Montreal, QC July 10, 2011

When the fire poses potential danger, we are indeed obligated to call 911 and do whatever we can to put it out. Like the other Shabbat restrictions, this prohibition is only when the fire is not life-threatening. Reply

Anonymous Lethbridge, Canada July 9, 2011

I believe that anything that could potentially hurt humanity has to be dealt with on the Sabbath as well as other days. We respect our environment which means putting out a fire so we aren't breathing smoke and can protect and live in the home God has provided us. We lead by example and I wouldn't want that to happen to my children while they watch as they could potentially die of smoke inhilation or burn to death if it is unlawful to run to safety on the Sabbath day. Poor judgment is my verdict as well. Reply

Jack Midland Park, NJ February 24, 2011

My obervant daughter told me that once she was at a Shabbat dinner. During the meal, the Shabbat candles fell over and set fire to nearby window curtains. No one tried to put out the fllames. Foretunaltely, nothing else caught fire. My own feeling was that this showed poor judgment by those present. What do you think ? Reply

ShiaDuvid brooklyn, ny August 12, 2010

It would be very useful to publish their names in vocalized Hebrew.
Thanks Reply