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I Have a Great Job, but It Requires Me to Work on Shabbat . . .

I Have a Great Job, but It Requires Me to Work on Shabbat . . .



I have a dilemma. I have just started a new employment position. In this industry, I have only Saturday and Sunday to conduct business. I hate it. This means that, yes, I am violating all the Shabbat rules.

But at the same time, this job is the best thing that has happened to me. This job is the culmination of all my hard work in school, and the company is great. I love the job, and I have something I have never had before: friends. I am making money and I finally have a life, a life with friends.

Do I leave the job, or is there some sort of compromise I can make?


I’m doing my best to relate to your situation, never having been in such a predicament. And from what I can muster, I can already see how difficult it must be. Long-awaited success on so many levels, versus the high price you must pay.

I cannot make the decision. But let me provide some perspective.

Your worry stems from the fact that you finally got what you’ve been hoping for, and it would be tough to give it up. But the One who made it happen for you now, can make it happen again. Why He would decide to give you such a difficult test, only He knows. But your responsibility is to realize that there are other jobs out there—which doesn’t imply that it will be easy, just feasible.

A word about your challenge: The Lubavitcher Rebbe once told someone who was engaged to a non-Jewish woman, “I envy you.” The man was understandably shocked. The Rebbe explained as follows: “You have been given an enormously difficult test. The spiritual and moral growth you will experience if you successfully withstand the test far exceeds anything I can imagine. I envy the opportunity you have to develop your soul’s muscles.” I think the same can apply to you.

You are facing the challenge of Shabbat, a test that Jewish immigrants to the USA faced in the first half of the 20th century. Those who withstood the test were able to inspire their children to follow in their footsteps, because they had experienced the battle and won. They could honestly tell their children that Shabbat was of utmost importance, and their words were meaningful—they had their lost jobs to back them up. Others didn’t find the strength to withstand the monumental test. What happened to their children? What legacy did they impart to the next generation?

Again, I’m not judging you or them—I’m just trying to give a little perspective, the larger picture.

You stand at the threshold now. Hang in there and make the right choice.

Rabbi Moshe Goldman for

Rabbi Moshe Goldman is the Director of Chabad of the Waterloo Region in Waterloo, Ontario. He is also a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
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Eliezer Zalmanov for August 27, 2016

Religious and Rational Nearly every life-saving scenario has been addressed by contemporary rabbis, knowledgeable in both halacha and modern technology, with saving lives always being a priority. While it is tempting to castigate halacha observant Jews as being irrational, a bit of research and knowledge into this particular subject can go a long way. Reply

Anonymous March 14, 2015

sabbath or not Well I live in Europe, most odd things have happened to me since I started to observe the sabbath, I got into a dream business school, I got over $100 000 in income, and other things I wont tell here. But when I don't observe the sabbath cheeting with it, I get less done each week. I'm not sure this blessings I have gotten are related to observing the sabbath, but I have my suspicion. Hope the blessings persist!! Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL December 24, 2014

Let’s not get overboard with extreme comments! No one in their right mind would even dare think of rewriting G-d’s commandments. I was more referring to a father’s figure, more like a father saying to his child, ok mamele/tatele you can have a cake before your diner. Maybe that person is trying to put its head in the sand hoping if he transgresses G-d’s law no one will notice. Knowing G-d’s laws why would he even mention anything. Isn’t searching for approval? It’s not for anyone to dictate one’s attitude, it’s for them to make their own decisions, as in Free Will, and for them to face the consequences. Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for December 23, 2014

To Peggy in MO As Rabbi Brownstein mentioned below, rabbis do not make commandments, rather they enhance G-d's. They enact precautions to keep us from violating prohibitions, and institute ways of beautifying our performance of our duties. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem December 23, 2014

Approval? Feigele, I didn't quite understand your comment. Do you mean that he wants G-d's approval of his desecrating the Holy Shabbos, like He should rewrite the Torah for him because he likes this particular job?

And how exactly are His creations supposed to give their approval? We certainly wouldn't expect the loyal servant of a king to say, " Okay, Buddy. It's fine with me if you break the king's laws. I approve 100%." And how much more so when the king is the King of Kings?

Furthermore, our livelihood is decided on Rosh Hashana. Nobody gains by rebelling against G-d. At the end, he'll always loose, either in this world or the next. So if someone really cares about the above writer, advise him to be Shomer Shabbos. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL December 22, 2014

Lecturing others... Amen sister!
I am sure this person knows about G-d's laws and it is why he is asking for help, although, he already knows the answer, maybe he is looking for approval from G-d and his creations Reply

Peggy Ruble Clever, MO December 21, 2014

Shabbat Rest The Torah states what the laws are and was given directly by G-D. I do not understand why the "priests" thought it necessary to add so many other laws that He did not give making it almost impossible to even go to the bathroom. In the book of Jeremiah, the L--D said "Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you know not". G-D is no respecter of persons and says in Deuteronomy "..what does the L--D require of you, but to fear the L--D your G-D, to walk in all His ways and to love H-m and to serve the L--D your G-D with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of the L--D and His statutes which I command you (this day) for your good? (parenthesis mine).

Pray about your problems, seek Him with all your heart and soul and HE will give you your answer and the peace that passes all undersranding along with it. Reply

Yehuda Franco San Francisco June 27, 2014

Halachah is Jurisprudence about Our Torah To Anonymous, Rabbi Brownstein correctly points out "the judge and the priest" as it is referred in Deutronomy. Jewish Jurisprudence has evolved for thousands of years without "adding or diminishing" what is writing in the Torah. The "rules" that you mention are in no way deviating from the word of the Torah, its intend is to clarify concepts that in time become blurred because language's dynamics makes it necessary to clarify issues that otherwise would be disregarded or forgotten. The "rulings" are not arbitrary and the conclusions are not individual, the process is legal and adheres to high ethical standards of Jurisprudence. To mention "Pharisees" or anyone else that at certain time was involved in this Juridical practice is irrelevant because all conclusions are constantly scrutinized to make sure that they conform to the intend and the letter of the Law. Orthodoxy is not oppressive or capricious in its Jurisprudence findings and process. Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein June 26, 2014

To Anonymous Deuteronomy refers to inquiring of "the judge and the priest" in cases where the law is ambiguous. There is no distinction between religious law and civil law. We are to follow the judges' directives regarding how to fulfill the Torah. This is akin to the US Supreme Court being empowered to interpret the Constitution, not merely to adjudicate lawsuits.
Correct Torah interpretation is a method, not a specific meaning. Learned Jews who seek to ascertain G-d's will regarding a given matter consider what seems to them to be the most plausible meaning of the relevant information. Differing opinions may all be legitimate, so long as the investigation is sincere and problems are approached using the traditional methods.
Rabbis do not make commandments but enhance G-d's. They enact precautions to keep us from violating prohibitions, and institute ways of beautifying our performance of our duties. The blessing for rabbinic practices indicates that G-d bids us follow them just like Torah laws. Reply

Anonymous June 15, 2014

After reading some comments, I feel that answers are unexplained. One is, can anyone identify where the rabbis have supreme authority to institute laws? One reference in Deuteronomy clearly speaks of jury trials and court cases, not Torah interpretation. Also, if the Jewish people are teaching the Torah correctly, why do so few know what it is? Many "rules" that are in the Orthodox community come from the Pharrisee branch from the 300 BC area, not beforehand. Scripture speaks nothing of a oral Torah nor did God give power to the rabbis to make more commandments. What is written is written, Moses wrote down the books, it even speaks of not adding more to the books, would not the oral traditions that say "God commanded us" be adding to it? It's a little fishy. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem May 26, 2014

medical care on Shabbos The halacha is that if a person needs a hospital or emergency care on Shabbos he is required by Jewish law to get to the hospital. You're not allowed to let yourself die or get dangerously or deadly sick. We have to live by the Law, not die because of it. Reply

Feugele Boca Raton FL May 25, 2014

It takes a Leader to create a Nation. Yes, G-d chose Abraham to lead some people towards a peaceful world by giving them the instructions how to go about. This Nation was not limited to just a handful of people it was accessible to all mankind willing to follow them and abide by the rules described in the Torah. It was not meant to be a separate Nation from others but rather to be a whole but men have the free will to choose who they want to follow, thus, making us a separate Nation, not G-d’s choice. Reply

Anonymous Philadelphia May 25, 2014

What happens when I really feel Physically ill on Sabbath. We have a nearby, but still needing Mass Transit, ER for Hospital with a bad reputation for helping you , even after hours of waiting. My Primary is not available and I am feeling as though my Pancreas, stomach, ore signs of infection are happening during this last Sabbath. I can't just get a ride out of the blue to a better ER, and my Primary could be helping me to avoid medical complications, but my insurance isn't good enough, Medicaid, for quality attention. Being sick does little to be in a Sabbath state. Reply

David Jerusalem May 25, 2014

to Benyamin - Idaho The purpose of the Torah was to create a beautiful world where mankind could live together in justice, peace and universal love. (Google "World Perfect.") The Torah is the Manufacture's instruction manual, telling us how to run His world.

The Jews, a small, holy nation, were chosen to teach G-d's word to mankind, which we have actually done.

Yes, you are right, we are supposed to remain separate and holy to G-d, a nation of Priests.

But again, the fences that the Sages instituted ( which the Torah gave them the power to do) are for the purpose of guarding against transgressions, "muktzer" to protect Shabbos; "yichud", forbidding a man and woman to be alone together in a secluded place, thereby protecting morality, etc.

The rabbis today are not on any "power trip". Please specify what you mean.

It seems to me that Jews do the beautifully in the modern world, but the weaker ones fade into it, assimilate, intermarry and disappear. Reply

Benjamin Docktor Idaho May 5, 2014

To David in Jerusalem. It seems to me you are right only by co-incidence. By my understanding, according to Genesis, it was said to Abraham (do I have this right), that he would found a "nation of priests". By logic, that implies to me the entire purpose of the Torah is to create laws to force a nation of people into behavior as separate from the Gentiles as possible, as the One had found the practices of all surrounding peoples to be an abomination, He created a people to do something about it. In other words, EVERYTHING about the Torah and what the One decreed in it is designed to create and maintain a separate people. That's okay. But sometimes I think the rabbis in their writings and rulings today go on a power trip and make life impossible be a Jew in the modern world... which is what those rabbis want. Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel May 5, 2014

"Anonymous of florida" should surely be aware from Genesis that the first act of creation occurred with the first day of the world. There was no day before that and the creation of light occured when there was darkness.
By the time the seventh day arrived, G-d rested and hallowed it. The name Shabbat in Hebrew means going "on strike" or to ceasing to work and it begins just before sunset.
Saturday is the related English name for this day, which begins at midnight, so strictly the two are not the same. Reply

David Jerusalem May 5, 2014

to B.Docktor and D. Chester The fences that Chazal made around Shabbos observance are not to separate us from the goyim, but to keep us from desecrating the Sabbath. For instance, if one is holding a pen, he might come to writing.

In the 4th Commandment it says to keep the Sabbath and says nothing about "within your gates" Please see Exodus, chapt.20, lines 8-11. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton FL May 4, 2014

Besides the point! I don't see how all these recent comments can help this young man resolve his dilemma! He certainly knows what Shabbat is and also that he is not suppose to work on that day! He needs to be reminded that it is his decision to either transgress the Jewish law or obey it - there is no going around. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem May 4, 2014

Shabbos is one of The Ten Commandments It seems from many of the above comments that some people are simply unaware that the mitzvah of keeping Shabbos is not just a nice tradition or a way of separating us from the goyim or any one of many other reasons.

Shabbos is number four of the Ten Commandments. It specifically states in the Ten Commandments not to do melacha (any form of handiwork) on Shabbos.

There are 39 categories of malacha learned out from and taught in the Torah. On this Chabad web cite you can learn the meaning of these.

Shabbos is a very holy day and the blessing of Shabbos pours over to the weekdays as well, because it is the source of all blessing.

Look at the sentence in Hebrew "Yom Hasishi: Veycilu hashaymayim v'aretz vchol tztvam v'yichol Elokim byom hashivi," etc. Count every seven letters. They spell " Yisrael. " The world was created for us, the Sabbath was given for us.
Remember it to keep it holy. Reply

Anonymous florida May 1, 2014

working on Saturday to : Cary.NC where does the Torah say Saturday? I only read that on the 7th day he rested, why do we Jews want to make believe to others or for that matter to our selves
that Shabbat means Saturday,
the fact is that it means rest ,,regardless of the name given to any of the days, so in order to understand my erroneous thinking
please clarify ,,does the Torah say that G-d started his work on (day ) of the week. Reply