Yom Kippur is treated like a sabbath day (but perhaps even more so).

The first day of Passover though is less restrictive than a sabbath:

You shall celebrate a sacred occasion on the first day, and a sacred occasion on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them; only what every person is to eat, that alone may be prepared for you.
— Exodus 12:16 (JPS)

On the first day you shall celebrate a sacred occasion: you shall not work at your occupations.
— Leviticus 23:7 (JPS)

Some other translations have the last part as "ye shall do no servile work therein".

The description in Exodus seems to be much stronger than that given in Leviticus: "no work at all" except for food preparation versus "not work at your occupation".

The restrictions in Exodus version could easily be seen to mean the same restrictions as on a sabbath (except for food), while the Leviticus version applies only to one's job (e.g. for most females at the time it would have no effect).

Do the two really differ as much as they seem?

  • Maybe I am missing the point of your question - both verses are talking about first night of Passover? Why would you imagine there is a "difference"? Do you mean contradiction? What has Yom Kippur got to do with anything?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 19, 2022 at 21:57
  • @RabbiKaii, I'm saying that unlike Yom Kippur, the first day of Passover has fewer restrictions than the weekly Sabbath. But the two descriptions of this day seem to differ in what those restrictions are. "no work except for food" vs. "no working at one's occupation". Dec 19, 2022 at 22:02
  • @rosends, that link says ‘the mishna (Megilla 7b) teaches: “The only difference between Shabbat and Yom Tov is okhel nefesh.” The mishna implies that the central difference between Shabbat and Yom Tov lies in the permissibility to cook on Yom Tov’, which corresponds to the description given in Exodus. My question is about why the description in Leviticus seems to drop most of the requirements. Dec 19, 2022 at 22:22
  • 1
    The hazard in relying on an imprecise translation is that one tends to infer too much from the translation's connotation.
    – Fred
    Dec 20, 2022 at 3:07

1 Answer 1


This is an example of where one verse repeats a statement (in this case, with different wording), in order to include more detail about the mitzva.

It is a machloket between Rashi and Ramban about what the term "m’lechet avodah" in Leviticus is coming to add to what was already written in Exodus. Rashi assumes it adds a restriction, Ramban assumes it adds a permission.

Rashi says this is coming to teach us we cannot do occupational work on Yom Tov, even if it will cause a financial loss, and the reason it did not use this pattern to teach the same for Shabbat is because it is used here in contrast to something unique to Yommim Tovim: intermediate dates (Chol Hamoed). On those, we are allowed to work, so it says "m’lechet avodah" specifically with regards to the first (and last) day of the Yom Tov, so we know that on the intermediate days we can work.

Ramban on the other hand takes issue with this and suggests that it is coming to exclude work that is necessary in the preparation of food. It's a very long Ramban and there is a lot involved, a great learning exercise in Rabbinic exegesis.

  • 1
    It seems likely the OP can't read Hebrew and is working solely from translation. Accordingly I'm not sure how much this answer helps them
    – Double AA
    Dec 20, 2022 at 0:48
  • @DoubleAA, It does help. I can read the alphabet and most things I can look up; it just takes me a long time. My initial impression is: { "work at your occupations" and "servile work" are common translations of "m’lecheth avodah". But if that Hebrew is understood as "any work that is not directly related to preparing food for immediate consumption", Leviticus 23:7 is simply restating what Exodus 12:16 said, it is not changing it. }. I'm working on the Rambam, but I feel like I need to be able to hold a dozen ideas in my head at the same time to actually understand it. Dec 21, 2022 at 20:09
  • @DoubleAA, as Fred said in another comment, "The hazard in relying on an imprecise translation is that one tends to infer too much from the translation's connotation.", that is exactly the problem. In English "servile work" is too vague, and "one's occupation" can be taken as what one's official job is rather than as how one normally occupies one's time. Dec 21, 2022 at 20:12

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