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Orthodox Judaism/taking care of babies/children on the sabboth

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QUESTION: How do you observe the Sabbath (and not do work) while raising a baby/child?  I have a 26 month old, and for the past two years, whenever I hear "observe the Sabbath" I want to respond, "yeah, if you don't have kids."  

I try to do prep work (food in the crock pot), no laundry, etc. but I'm still exhausted.  She still requires so much work feeding, diapering, entertaining, etc. and when she was a baby, nursing.  

thank you!  I just found this site and so grateful to have a place to find answers!

ANSWER: Dear Christi,
Good question, and not a new one.
The word 'work', when discussing the Jewish Sabbath, is referring to creative work, that is, work that is creative in some way. Specifically, there are 39 main types of creative work that are not allowed on the Sabbath. Plowing, planting, cooking, sewing, to name just a few.
Child care (diapering, feeding, entertaining, etc) is not one of the 39. Otherwise, you're right, it would be impossible to properly keep the Sabbath.
From your question it's not clear how in-depth you wanted this answer to be, so feel free to ask for more clarification.
Best of luck,
Sheva


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: ok, thank you.  A couple of follow up questions:

1 - how does a [Jewish] new mother's Sabbath look different than a [gentile] new mother who doesn't observe the Sabbath?  or is there a difference?

2 - what is the "reason" for the Sabbath, or what is the goal of "do no work?"  perhaps the "why" would help me understand the differences between what can be done and what shouldn't be done.

Answer
1- A Jewish mother's sabbath is different than a gentile's in that the Jewish mother keeps the Jewish sabbath and a gentile mother does not. Motherhood does not factor in, really.
2- The reason for the Jewish sabbath is for the Jew to show his belief that God created the world in six days (creative work) and rested on the seventh day. So we abstain from creative work on this day to show our belief. It's a covenant between the Jew and God.

What can and cannot be done is specifically delineated by Jewish law. There are 39 types of 'work' that cannot be done. It would be impossible for me to list all of them with explanations as to how they apply, but this link is a good start:
http://www.ou.org/chagim/shabbat/thirtynine.htm#1b

Is there any specific prohibition that you are having particular difficulty with?

Best of luck,
Sheva  

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Sheva

Expertise

I can answer any questions about orthodox Judaism, especially the laws that relate to women. No question too big or small, and never be embarrassed to ask - it's the only way you'll find out!

Experience

I am an orthodox Jewish woman, but I have had my questions, and always seek answers, so I have a lot of experience in all areas. If I don't know the answer, I'll ask someone who does.

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High school graduate

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