Webquest on the Prohibitions of Shabbat                            by Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky


Today you are the rabbis from the Gemara and you are trying to define what is forbidden to do on Shabbat and why.


1. First we must look at what the Torah has to say about Shabbat.

Lets look up the verses in the Torah about Shabbat and see what they have to say.

Go to the following source by clicking below and then answer the question below:



Q) What did God do on the seventh day? Which word is the translation of the Hebrew term Shavath?



Now go to the following source by clicking below and then answer the question below:



Q) According to verses 12-17, what should the Israelites not do on Shabbat? Why?


Q) What is the subject of this chapter? (Look at the earlier verses.) Why is Shabbat put here?


Based on these 2 sources from the Torah list off what you know about Shabbat and what you need to know about Shabbat.

What you Know

Need to Know




2. Now look up “work” in Webster’s Dictionary and answer the questions below:



Q) What is definition 1a? Explain this using your own words.


Q) Based on this definition, how would you define work and how would you define rest?


Q) List off 15 different activities that you would prohibit on your Sabbath because they are work.



3. Now read an article about how some Jews keep Shabbat and answer some questions:



Q) In what ways do these Jews experience a day of rest and spiritual refreshment on Shabbat?


4. Now go to the following web site:



Q) How does our traditional sources define work?


Q) How do our rabbis get the different categories of work?


Q) How many are there?


5. Now go to the following website:



Q) What is the difference between the American definition of work and the Torah’s definition?


Q) How would operating an automobile fit into the Torah’s definition of work?


6. Now read the following article:



Q) Why is writing a single word considered to be work, while dragging a heavy sofa is not?


Q) How is work on Shabbat connected to the Mishkan?


7. Now lets answer some questions about this web site:



Q) Why do we need to prohibit specific activities on Shabbat?


Q) How does this contribute to the atmosphere of Shabbat?


8. Lets describe these categories in detail using the web site below:



Q) List the different categories of work.


Q) Why does the Mishna need to mention all of them?



9. Now lets try to understand these categories of work in detail:



Q) Define Avot Melachot.


Q) Define Toladot.


Q) Why do we need separate categories for Avot Melachot and for Toladot?


Q) Divide the different Avot Melachot into 6 catagories and describe each one.


10. Lets see how Shabbat was observed throughout our history:



Q) When did Jews start keeping Shabbat?


Q) Describe each of the different sources from the Torah Neviim and Ketuvim about Shabbat.


Q) How did Shabbat evolve over time?


11. Now lets read an article connecting the laws of Shabbat and the Mishkan.



Q) Describe the legal method used to connect Shabbat and the Mishkan?


Q) Is electricity forbidden on Shabbat? Give 2 answers to this question.


12. Now lets look at 2 sites focusing on the Avodah of the Mishkan and the Bais Hamikdash:




Q) List off the different Vessels of the Mikdash.


Q) What are their functions?


Q) What forms of work do you think they each would involve?


13. Now lets read one for article connecting Shabbat, the Mishkan, and the creation of the world:



Q) What is the reason for these associations between the Shabbat and the Mishkan?


Q) Why are the laws of Shabbat contingent on the Mishkan?


Q) How does the Mishkan and Shabbbat connect to the creation of the world?



14. In conclusion, as the rabbis who did research you should file your report by answering the following questions.




link to lookstein.org