Is 'learning' non-Jewish topics a prohibited creative process on Shabbat? If so, on what grounds is learning Tanakh exempted? I read that the study non-Jewish subjects is banned or frowned upon, and I wonder why the creative-process ban/frown on the study of non-Jewish topics doesn't apply to Tanakh.
|show 1 more comment|
Once again, see Rabbi Torczyner's lecture on attending conferences.
While debated by medieval rabbis, it appears that we conclude it is permissible to study science or medicine on Shabbat. (Assuming it's being done for the right reasons, assuming you're not writing, that it's not "business talk", and the like.) There had been a discussion whether an astrolabe (a tool of astronomy from centuries past) could be used on Shabbat, and contemporary authority Rabbi JD Bleich discusses a microscope (again, assuming you're not turning on the light or the like); we tend to rule that this is all permitted.
CAVEAT: Shabbat has two components, the "don't-do" and the "yes do." Don't do creative processes like planting, plowing, burning and the like. Easy enough.
But there's also the "yes-do" of "keep the day sacred." Otherwise, I could come up with 101 loopholes that aren't technically creative processes, but would wind up spending my Shabbat as pretty much just another workday. Isaiah 54:18 talks about keeping Shabbat as a "delight", not trying to do your business or even talk about it.
That's a lot more of the question: is it appropriate and within the spirit to study science? Many believe that as that assists your religious growth, yes. (If you're cramming for an exam the next day, that's a different matter.)