We are told multiple times in the Torah

ששת ימים תעבוד

Six days you should work.

But many people do not actually work 6 days a week. For example, in the United States, Sunday is considered a weekend day, and many people do not attend work on that day. Indeed, many retired people hardly ever do any of these kinds of work. Are all of the people who do not attend work on Sunday, or at all, in error?!

Or perhaps this refers to all kinds of work like housework, homework, etc. Are people who don't do those things (or whatever is meant by taavod) every day in violation of the mitzvah?

I am leaving the topic of melacha aside for now because I would assume that if the verse were talking about it, it would use that word specifically. I am aware that it also says:

ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה

but I am assuming that is discussing a separate requirement. Is that an incorrect assumption?

  • Intentionally didn't tag with melacha-creative-work because I'm not asking about that. Any other tagging help would be appreciated. – Daniel Jun 4 '13 at 15:29
  • I'm not great at grammar but the tav prefix seems to indicate what one MAY do, not SHOULD do. The dibrot say "lo tisa et shem" as a statement of permission -- one MAY NOT take God's name in vain. Couldn't this statement then just be "on six days you MAY work"? BTW the bible.ort.org/books/Torahd5.asp?action=displayid&id=2062 translation has "can" and Chabad has "may" – rosends Jun 4 '13 at 15:44
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    @Danno, so uvayom hash'vii tishbos means we may rest on the seventh? – msh210 Jun 4 '13 at 15:45
  • @msh210 interestingly, when used in the "positive", chabad consistently translates as "may" but in the "negative" it translates as "shall" chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9884 . [those labels of negative and positive relate to the nature of the statement, not a clear use of positive or negative language] I only wonder if there is a grammatical subtlety at play here. – rosends Jun 4 '13 at 15:49
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    @Danno I don't think so. Lo ye'achel chametz is the restrictive commandment about not eating chametz. Matzot tocheilu I think is the positive commandment that one must eat matzah during Pesach. – Daniel Jun 4 '13 at 16:04

Abarbanel explains this verse - that one may work the other 6 days - not that one is required to work.


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    Interesting. He says that it is permissible rather than required without giving a reason. And then he goes on to compare working 6 days to Hashem's creation of the world, which seems like support for requiring someone to work 6 days. – Daniel Jun 5 '13 at 15:45
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    This is definitely the answer. I'm just surprised I can't find something really early like a midrash halacha saying "Sheshet Yamim - Eino Chovah Ella Reshut" or something like that. – Double AA Jun 5 '13 at 22:12
  • If I'm not mistaken, Ramb"m states that one is required to work all 6 days. So, no lazy Friday's or Sundays. – DanF Feb 7 '18 at 21:27

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