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Cheshvan 27 5779

Melacha - Quality, Not Amount of Force

From "Chemdat Yamim" Parsha Sheet

Gemara: One who tightens the thread of fabrics [that were already sewn together but became loosened – Rashi] on Shabbat, requires a chatat offering [for atonement for violating Shabbat].

Ein Ayah: The character of melacha (forbidden work on Shabbat) does not depend on its external form, i.e., the amount of force that a person must expend to complete it. Rather, it depends on its internal character, or its spiritual form, i.e., the qualitative improvement to the object to which it relates.

It is true that the two elements are usually interconnected. In other words, melacha that brings some significant embellishment also requires significant physical action by a person. However, this correlation is coincidental. If it turns out that an activity has the qualitative requirements of a melacha without involving significant physical action, nothing is detracted from its status in regard to the laws of Shabbat. Indeed the consequences for one who does a melacha on Shabbat are a function of the melacha’s qualitative, even spiritual, quality of that which is accomplished.

When one tightens a thread that forms the stitches in fabric, he rarely has to use noteworthy force. Nevertheless, it contains a full status of melacha, as it improves a garment, whose various fabrics start separating from each other if the thread has not been tightened. That is why there is a need for a chatat offering.

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