Shabbat has a profound meaning of non-determinism. God created the world in six days and gave it the laws. After the six days, the world developed on its own without divine involvement. In that sense, God rested on Shabbat. Every Shabbat reminds Jews that we are responsible for events: the Holocaust is neither the product of divine intervention nor of the absence thereof.

Only exhausting work is prohibited on Shabbat. The concept of creative work is artificial; the ancients surely didn’t distinguish between creative work and other types.

The Torah forbids m’laca on Sabbath; other prohibitions, such as making fire on Sabbath, are the interpretations of m’laca.

The Aleph (m’lAca) testifies to the great antiquity of the word; subsequently aleph has dropped out in cognates.

All the cognates of m’laca have an unmistakable sense of sending: malac (messenger, angel), melec (malc, a king, presumably God-sent). The word m’laca is related to halac (to go): lac (send) as an imperative of halac (go), or halac (go) as causative (hiphil) of lac (send).

The word m’laca is grammatically unusual. Its derivation, usually claimed to be from malaca, is highly suspect: the patah (short [a]) in malaca is not susceptible to reduction. Rather, the noun m’laca is derived from the piel form of lac; piel denotes great intensity of action.

The meaning of m’laca seems to be “bringing something forth.” That accounts for the established meanings of income and work. There’s no connotation of specifically creative work, as many claim, except in the vaguest sense of creating something, as almost any labor does. Exodus 20:8 mentions three words for work, apparently as synonyms: Six days you shall labor (avd), and do (ase) all your work (m’laca).

Shabbat, usually translated as rest, is actually holiday. The word is commonly employed with such sense, and elsewhere rest is a derivative meaning of holiday. God didn’t rest on the seventh day, but rather nh—calmed down (Exodus 20:10). The seventh day is therefore a holiday of completion of the Creation, rather than rest per se. The word Shabbat is a cognate of sheva, the seventh day (Sabbath). In Hebrew language, the numerical sheva obviously appeared before the Shabbat was introduced. The derivation is clear: sheva (seven)—Shabbat (holiday on the seventh day)—Shabbat (day of the holiday rest). Still in Exodus 31:15, Shabbat means holiday, as any other reading of shabat shabaton is tortured; the term means “holy holiday,” rather than restful rest.

The original prohibition (Exodus 20:9) doesn’t read as overly stringent: “And [the] day [which is] the seventh—Shabbat (holiday) to the Lord your God; thou shall not do all work (m’laca).” The Torah doesn’t say, “any work,” but much more softly, “all work.” The commandment was not clear cut, and already the Exodus 35:3 clarifies a significant application: “You shall not kindle fire in all of your settlements on the Sabbath day.”

Sabbath is a holiday on which Jews must not perform intense fruitful work. The Torah does not support the rabbinical ban on the myriad of routine actions which are either of low intensity, do not qualify as work in any meaningful sense, or bring forth no material benefit.