Pretty much just that.

(If a person is misasek when doing an aveira, he is not liable for anything. If, however, he is shogeg, then he often has to bring a korbon. ‘Misasek’ is not a lack of awareness about the halacha, but rather means when a person makes a mistake about the situational factors surrounding his act, those factors in fact causing the act to be one which is forbidden. Thus, as a result, the person does something forbidden without realising that it was forbidden. Shogeg means when someone forgets or does not know that the action he's doing is in fact forbidden - but he is fully aware of the situational factors; he knows exactly what he is doing, he just isn’t aware it’s wrong.)

When a person forgets it’s Shabbos, isn’t that a lack of situational awareness? We’re not talking about a case where the person knows its Saturday but forgot that on Saturday one cannot do any melocho – that would indeed be a lack of halachic awareness, but it is not (from memory) the standard case of ‘helem shabbos’. Rather, the standard case is that one forgot that the day was Shabbos – he thought it was a weekday. (Friday, Sunday, whatever.) So, this seems to me to be precisely a case of misasek! How can this be considered shogeg? I know at other times in the seventh perek of Shabbos and maybe elsewhere, the terms are used interchangably – but this is not semantics here; this is a question of halacha. How can one have to bring a korbon in this case? Why is this a seeming exception to the rule of misasek?

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    I thought misasek is they aren't doing what they intend todo. Someone who does melacha on shabbos is doing what they want to do, they just didn't realize the consequences
    – robev
    Dec 12, 2020 at 17:40
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    My understanding has been that misasek is where the physical act was unintended; shogeg is where the physical act was intended but not the halachic act/consequence. Shabbos is a halachic reality not a physical one. (In fact the western "week" is based on the Torah's halachic shabbos, not on a physical phenomenon).
    – Loewian
    Dec 13, 2020 at 6:17
  • Thanks so much. Also, it must be that acts of mitzvos are fundementally different from acts of aveiros. For otherwise there's a contradiction: If someone eats matzah on seder night thinking it is not Pesach, this IS misasek! Rav Hutner asks this question. But the answer is that the Torah views the mitzvah fulfillment as (part of) the act itself, whereas for aveiros, the halachic effect, being unconstructive, is not viewed as (part of) the act. So misasek for mitzvos is even in the halachic element, whereas for aveiros it will only be in the physicality.
    – Reuvy
    Dec 30, 2020 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


The distinguishing characteristic of misasek vs shogeg seems to be that the former refers to when your intended action was not actualized, while the latter refers to when you did what you meant to do but without intending to sin thereby. For example, in Keritot 20a we have the following passage:

רבא אמר ליקדם איכא בינייהו והתניא היו לפניו שתי נרות דולקות (ארוכות) ונתכוין לכבות את זו וכיבה את זו להדליק את זו והדליק את זו פטור להדליק ולכבות וכיבה והדליק בנשימה אחת חייב [בשתי נשימות פטור] פשיטא מהו דתימא לא איתעבד מחשבתיה דהא להדליק מעיקרא בעי ולבסוף לכבות וכי עבד מעשה כיבה ובסוף הדליק הוא ואימא פטור קא משמע לן נהי דאקדומי (נמי) לא מקדים אחורי נמי לא מאחר

Raba said, They differ in the matter of sequence. As it has been taught: If there were before a person [on the Sabbath] two burning [or extinguished] candles and he intended to extinguish the one but extinguished the other, or to kindle the one but kindled the other, he is exempt; if he intended first to kindle the one and then to extinguish the other, and he first extinguished and then kindled, if with one breath6 he is liable, if with two breaths he is exempt. But is this not obvious? — I might have thought that since his design was not realized, seeing that he wanted first to kindle and then to extinguish, but in his act [we might regard it as if] the extinguishing was done first and then the kindling, he should accordingly be exempt; therefore we are told [that this is not so]; for although [the kindling] did not precede [the extinguishing], neither did it follow.

(Soncino translation, my emphasis)

It seems here that the factor that would exempt you is that your goal was not actualized, which is different from lack of awareness that your action is sinful. See also Rashi and Tosafot in Pesachim 33a (ד"ה שאם נתכוון and ד"ה נתכוון respectively, the latter of which cites the passage in Keritot as proof).


Misasek is when you don't intend to do what you did. Like you tried to pick up an object from the ground but accidently pulled off grass. If you know what you are doing and the results of what you are doing it's not misasek.

Thus if you forgot it's shabbos, that has no effect on the intent of the action which you did. Therefore it's not misasek.

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    Do you have any sources to indicate this is the case? Dec 13, 2020 at 2:36

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