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I've been wrestling with trying to determine exactly what type of "work" might be allowed on the days when no SERVILE work is not allowed. (6 of the 7 High Sabbath's) Aside from cooking, which is plainly allowed via Ex 12:16, has anyone been able to determine this?

  מלאכת

mel-aw-kaw appears to be the word in question here. Strongs (4399) says, "no employment; industrious occupation"  type of "work". My Shimon Zilberman dictionary doesn't even list the word. Google says it"s"work" period. Can anyone elaborate on the literal, not traditional please, meaning implied by "no servile work"?

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I have also always wondered this as well. I think that it might be anything that will distract us completely away from the meaning of the high Sabbath or bring us into worldly affairs or heavy burdensome labour. I don't think that cooking, cleaning dishes, and maybe taking care of other more simple tasks would be servile work. Whereas going away to attend to business affairs, or doing hard labour or anything that would cause absence from home or family might be more servile type of work since we are supposed to be there to keep it together.  

But I have always wanted to know more about this and I am very new to the holy days yet, so it will be interesting seeing what everyone else has to say. :)

The key word here is not "melacha" but "abodah".

We have in Leviticus in the commandement for this Sukkot yom tov this words used:

מלאכת H4399 - melachot - works 

עבדה H5656 - abodah - ensclaving

so is not "no serlive work" but "no works ensclaving".


I do not see the word AVODAH in Ex. 12:16.  The word for "do" in Ex. 12:16 is Y'ASHEH ("to do"_ not a form of AVODAH.

And in the first day, there shall be to you a Set-Apart convocation, and in the seventh
day, a Set-Apart convocation; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which
every man must eat: that only may be done by you.
(Ex. 12:16 HRV)

The phrase "no manner of work shall be done in them" in Hebrew is כל מלאכה לא יעשה

Literally "all work do not do"

Thanks Rabbi. Sorry, I was concentrating more on the 1st and last days of Sukkot. No SERVILE (mel-aw-kaw) work was the instruction for those days. Gathering the branches was allowed. What about other necessary tasks that were most likely needing to be done? I'm still trying to figure out why the stipulation of no SERVILE work was instructed.

James Trimm said:


I do not see the word AVODAH in Ex. 12:16.  The word for "do" in Ex. 12:16 is Y'ASHEH ("to do"_ not a form of AVODAH.

And in the first day, there shall be to you a Set-Apart convocation, and in the seventh
day, a Set-Apart convocation; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which
every man must eat: that only may be done by you.
(Ex. 12:16 HRV)

The phrase "no manner of work shall be done in them" in Hebrew is כל מלאכה לא יעשה

Literally "all work do not do"

I now see I confused the word in question when I originally proposed this question. A better verse to consider is:

Lev 23:21  ‘And on this same day you shall proclaim a set-apart gathering for yourselves, you do no servile work on it – a law forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

LEV 23:21 וקראתםH7121  בעצםH6106  היוםH3117  הזהH2088  מקראH4744  קדשׁH6944  יהיהH1961  לכם  כלH3605  מלאכתH4399  עבדהH5656  לאH3808  תעשׂוH6213  חקתH2708  עולםH5769  בכלH3605  מושׁבתיכםH4186  לדרתיכם׃H1755 

"Ab-o-dah" from Strong's 5647 "primitive root" "abad"  עָבַד" "to work".

From biblehub:

Leviticus 23:21
HEB: כָּל־ מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ
NAS: no laborious work.
KJV: unto you: ye shall do no servile work
INT: all work laborious not shall do

HRV: "do no manner of servile work"

(The above also introduces "laborious" work).

My Shimon Zilberman English-Hebrew dictionary has "servile" listed as an adjective. In this case the adjective is describing the noun of "work" or the type of work NOT allowed indicating another form of "work" being allowed. Is it only from tradition we determine what is allowed on this yom (shavout) or can we prove what IS and IS NOT allowed? Any help is greatly appreciated.

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