Planting, the av melachah of zoraya, is forbidden on Shabbat, and includes any activity that promotes vegetative growth. One transgresses the melachah even if the planting produces no results; dropping a seed or pit on soil, for example. Since the seed could germinate and produce a tree or a plant, dropping the seed is considered an act of planting.1 It is important to note that we follow the halachic guidelines even when they seem obscure. For example, one may not place a potted plant onto grass on Shabbat, since the plant can now draw nutrients from the ground, improving its growth.2

Planting in the Mishkan

Various herbs were planted to create the dyes used in the Mishkan.3 Additionally, wheat was planted to produce flour for some of the sacrifices and for the lechem hapanim, the showbread, which was baked and used in the Mishkan on a weekly basis.4

Toladot of Zoraya

  • Watering grass.5
  • Pruning trees.
  • Weeding in order to improve the growth of existing plants.
  • Fumigating plants with pesticides.

Common Activities to Avoid

  • Turning on a sprinkler system.
  • Moving a plant to a place where it will get more sun.
  • Dropping a pit or fruit seed on soil.
  • Having a water fight on dirt or grass.