May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

RYNJ eighth graders have been intensely learning about the 39 avot melacha as they learn hilchot Shabbat. From their survey of the concept of Shabbat as described in the Torah through an examination of melechet hamishkan and the command to refrain from mishkan construction on Shabbat, the students are studying the 39 categories of forbidden labor and the various derivatives (toladot) that comprise the d’orayta prohibitions of Shabbat.

To learn about a concept and to really understand it, though, are two different things. To help students truly appreciate what the original forms of work really were… is a job for “Melacha Man” Josh Rossman. In his brief words of introduction, Rossman showed the tools and demonstrated the equipment that were organized according to the four general series of Mishkan projects (bread/dye, curtains, leather, building construction) and then allowed the students to try them out for themselves. Eighth graders threshed and winnowed, spun thread and weaved cloth, ground wheat kernels, stomped grapes and etched leather… and posed for photo ops with the guest sheep and deer!

In this industrialized age, many basic processes and material preparations are unfamiliar and it can therefore be difficult for modern day students to appreciate how the 39 avot melacha apply to their very real lives. Now they are more aware and better informed with the help of a good dose of “hands on halacha.” May the graduates continue to grow in their appreciation of halacha and their commitment to shemirat hamitzvot.

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