• How do we do our work with intentionality and raise it to holiness?
  • Is our service more valuable if we choose it, or if we are obligated to do it?


(ב) שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק... הָיָה אוֹמֵר, עַל שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הָעוֹלָם עוֹמֵד, עַל הַתּוֹרָה וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה וְעַל גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים:

(2) Shimon the Righteous... used to say: the world stands upon three things: the Torah, the Temple service (Avodah), and the practice of acts of lovingkindness.

(טו) וַיִּקַּ֛ח ה' אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃

(15) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.

(יט) בְּזֵעַ֤ת אַפֶּ֙יךָ֙ תֹּ֣אכַל לֶ֔חֶם עַ֤ד שֽׁוּבְךָ֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה כִּ֥י מִמֶּ֖נָּה לֻקָּ֑חְתָּ כִּֽי־עָפָ֣ר אַ֔תָּה וְאֶל־עָפָ֖ר תָּשֽׁוּב׃

(19) By the sweat of your brow Shall you get bread to eat, Until you return to the ground— For from it you were taken. For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”


  • Do you think Adam’s task was obligatory or optional?
  • Do you believe that service for a purpose beyond ourselves necessary for our identity as human beings?
  • What types of work are you engaged in now that you feel are obligatory? What kinds of optional work do you engage in?
(ט) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֛ה כֵּ֖ן אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֤א שָֽׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה מִקֹּ֣צֶר ר֔וּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָ֖ה קָשָֽׁה׃ (פ)
(9) But when Moses told this to the Israelites, they would not listen to Moses, their spirits crushed by cruel bondage.


  • What kinds of work can “crush” one’s spirit or feel “cruel”?
  • What are the conditions necessary for someone to work well?
  • Describe your ideal “work place” and what a person needs to be as productive as possible.
  • What can you do when those ideal conditions are not met?


(יג) שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּֿל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒׃ (יד) וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֜֔י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת ׀ לַה' אֱלֹקֶ֑֗יךָ לֹ֣א תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡ה אַתָּ֣ה וּבִנְךָֽ־וּבִתֶּ֣ךָ וְעַבְדְּךָֽ־וַ֠אֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ֨ וַחֲמֹֽרְךָ֜ וְכָל־בְּהֶמְתֶּ֗ךָ וְגֵֽרְךָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ לְמַ֗עַן יָנ֛וּחַ עַבְדְּךָ֥ וַאֲמָתְךָ֖ כָּמֽ֑וֹךָ׃
(13) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, (14) but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do.


  • Why do you think it was necessary for God to rest from the work of creation?
  • What happens if someone works without a break?
  • Are there any forms of work from which you think one should not take a break? If so, what are they?

(טז) הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.

(16) He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it


  • What work do you think Rabbi Tarfon is referring to?
  • What types of work are there definitive ends to, that you know you have completed? What kinds of work are ongoing and which always seem to persist?
  • Is there value in starting a process or working towards a goal that you may never see completed?
  • Which would you prefer to engage in: projects that you can see through to the end or projects that will outlive you?
(ד) ט֖וֹב אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־תִדֹּ֑ר מִשֶׁתִּדּ֖וֹר וְלֹ֥א תְשַׁלֵּֽם׃
(4) It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill.


  • Do you agree with King Solomon that it is preferable to avoid commitments you may not fulfill?
  • What commitments do you have trouble keeping? What commitments do you find easier to keep?
  • Is there ever a time where it can be beneficial to commit to something, even if you can’t see the commitment through?

"Servants of Time," Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi

Servants of Time are servants of servants –

Servants of God are alone truly free:

Therefore when each person requests their portion

“My Portion is God!” my soul cries incessantly.


  • What do you think the author means by “a servant of time”?
  • What do you think is the primary difference between a person who is a “servant of Time” and a “servant of God” as the author alludes?
  • Is there a way we can free ourselves from being “servants of time”?