In the Old Testament, there aren’t a lot of stories that tell us how to observe the Seventh day, in other words-Shabbat. In Numbers 15 there's a passage that discusses a man who gathered wood on the seventh day and was stoned by the community (see Numbers 15:32-36).
One of the main topics that was discussed by the sages of Israel was which things you must refrain from doing on Shabbat, things that you may do in the course of the week.
The first thing these sages did is to find a Hebrew word that would distinguish the things that you can do and the things that you can't.
The chosen word was "melachah" - מְלָאכָה -as written in Leviticus 23:3:
"שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ, כָּל-
מְלָאכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ: שַׁבָּת הִוא לַיהוָה, בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם"
“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Shabbat of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a Shabbat to the Lord in all your dwellings."
If we check other passages in the Bible and try to define what is considered "Melachah", we can then surmise that on Shabbat you can't create fire (Exodus 35:3), you can’t plow or harvest (Exodus 34:21) and you can't negotiate with people or sell your goods (Nehemiah 13:16-17). The question is, what else is forbidden?
Read our next article; the answer will be revealed there!