melacha (meh-LAH-kha) listen


  • n. Work or actions forbidden on Shabbat or Yom Tov; often refers to creative work or the use of electronics.

  • n. Work in general.

  • n. Art, skill, trade.

  • n. A task.

Example Sentences

  • "I couldn't start fixing the chair, because that would be melacha" (Glinert).

  • "And with every new gadget, a rabbi somewhere will ask: 'Will this involve a melacha?" (Glinert).

  • "The bochrim gave up trying to plan a chassan party when it became too big a Melocha for them" (Weiser).

  • "He's not a simple electrician; he knows the Melocha very well" (Weiser).

  • "At this point, the melachah of boreir, selecting, was performed, which involved removing heavier items, such as pebbles, that had remained with the kernels, now referred to as grain." (

  • "He gives us the opportunity to emulate Him by instructing us to also do melacha and build a Mishkan, so that we can choose to have a relationship with Him." (source)

  • "The idea of being purposeful, in this context, implies that that the act in question, in order to be considered a “Melacha,” must have a positive purpose." (source)

  • “Just one more hour of this malokhe and I get to head home!” (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish


  • TH מלאכה melacha 'craft' > Y מלאָכה melokhe

    • Who Uses This

      • Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
      • Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
      • Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).

      Alternative Spellings

      melachah, malachah, melakhah, malakhah, malacha, melakha, malakha, melochah, malochah, melokhah, malokhah, melocha, malocha, melokha, malokha, melokheh, melokhe, malokhe, malokheh, melukhe, melukheh


  • "Like many aspects of Judaism, the interpretations and observances of these ancient laws vary widely, depending on a Jew's personal belief, how he or she was raised, and which movement of Judaism that individual follows. Set out specifically in the Talmud, the 39 labors forbidden on Shabbat include common activities like baking, sewing, and writing... Today, traditional Jews interpret these prohibited activities to include many modern inventions and conveniences that, although not mentioned, are related in some way to the ancient list." (JPS)

    plural: 'melakhot' or 'melachot'

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