[Sca-cooks] Period Shabbat

Judith Epstein judith at ipstenu.org
Sun Aug 23 06:47:50 PDT 2009

On Aug 23, 2009, at 7:30 AM, bronwynmgn at aol.com wrote:

> <<Yes, once I learn to sew, I'll surely be looking the part. But  
> that's not something I can do at events, only something I can appear  
> at events. >>
> ?
> Why can't you sew at events?? If you learn some very basic hand- 
> sewing, you can finish hems and seams and such there.? I make my  
> clothes completely by hand so I can do all the work at events.? I  
> know that most people don't want to do that, but I HATE sewing  
> machines with a passion.? I can't sew a straight line on one to save  
> my life.? Obviously you can't sew on the Sabbath, either, but would  
> it be allowable to talk to people about what you are sewing and show  
> it to them?? Not teaching a class, of course, just chatting?

No "work" is permitted to Jews on Sabbath, except that "work" is not a  
correct translation of the word "melachah." From what I can discover,  
melachah is related to the word melech, which means king. Thus, what  
is prohibited are acts of mastery/sovereignty, that is, over the  
physical world. At candle-lighting time, which is 18 minutes prior to  
'official' sundown, acts of mastery cease, and everything remains for  
about 26 hours just as it was at the start of Sabbath (which ends 42  
minutes after sundown). Anything which says "I control my environment,  
I am human, I have opposable thumbs and a really big brain" is right  
out. ;)

Sewing is one of the 39 categories of work (http://www.ou.org/chagim/shabbat/thirtynine.htm 
) that are prohibited on Shabbat. It creates a permanent fastening,  
and is thus an act of creation, and thus forbidden to a Jew.

> Judith, I think you have a very interesting opportunity to get into  
> more in-depth persona development than many people do, because you  
> have this enforced period of time where you can't do anything BUT be  
> your persona.? In some ways I envy that.? I always have so much to  
> do that I don't have a lot of time to think with Brangwayna's mind.

It's true, and having 26 hours a week to BE instead of DO is really an  
amazing thing. I didn't grow up in an observant Jewish home or know  
anyone observant, so it's been a real revelation. I was always  
thinking of the things I'd miss that I couldn't do, but what I've  
discovered is that when one can't turn on the computer, shop, work on  
crafts, clean the house... the only thing one can do is act like a  
human being. Interact with family, visit friends, pet the cats, take a  
short walk just to admire creation. We spend so much time trying to  
control the world and assure our place in it, that it seems like we're  
trying to conquer it out of fear that if we don't, we'll become the  
conquered. That last day of the week, we don't have to be in charge of  
anything, and we can just interact with one another and show that we  
value one another.

Doing that at an SCA event, I discovered, makes a world of difference.  
In college, I did about four or five SCA events with my then-roommate,  
who was really into it. I spent Saturday shopping, thinking of  
aquiring things. Now I spend event Saturdays just talking to people,  
and as consequence I've found that I actually make friends. It's  
making all the difference in terms of why I want to go back and make  
this one of my major hobbies. Having the time to really sink into  
persona is another awesome benefit. I LOVE watching people making  
things with hand tools and engaging in their medieval lives, but I  
think I'm happiest when I get to wander around and talk to them while  
they do it, rather than stay in camp and do that myself. And too, I  
hope it makes the folks doing medieval fighting or crafting feel like  
it's worth it, when someone stops by and says "That's cool, what  
you're doing there."


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