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Here we will see that lighting a fire on the Sabbath is a forbidden activity, and with this the scribes and Pharisees explain that starting a car engine is also listed as a forbidden activity on the Sabbath as it involves sparks, the ignition and burning of fuel – even the boiling of water.
Solutions are peaceably submitted, along with Scripture references.
Briefly the intent is to share what the Pharisees (typically dear Orthodox Jews) instruct on this matter.
They state that as the starting of a petrol style car engine required a spark, the ignition of fuel, and the continual burning of fuel – such is forbidden on the Sabbath.
In the Holy Scriptures we can see that kindling a fire on the Sabbath is a forbidden activity;
You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.”
Exodus 35:3 ESV
Though we cannot see a fire when we start a car, the elements of fire typically exist under the hood behind the metal casings – with spark plugs, pistons and the like.
Further to this, a by-product of driving a car on the Sabbath might realistically also include the boiling of water in the radiator etc.
Boiling water is interpreted as also being prohibited on the Sabbath from the following verse;
he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’”
Exodus 16:23 ESV
In this instance it could perhaps easily be said that the ruling of the scribes and Pharisees is highly supportive of keeping the commandment G-d has given to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy – thus we should do what they say here;
‘Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you…’
(Matthew 23:1-3 ESV)
Solutions To Not Being Able To Drive On The Sabbath To Meet
One may now be thinking; if driving is prohibited on the sabbath, how can I meet with a congregation to fellowship with on the day?
This is a good question.
A person / congregation can take alternative measures to meet.
Perhaps you can arrange private lockable accommodation at or within reasonable walking distance to the gathering.
Or perhaps individual lockable tents can be legally pitched at the address – all prior to the Sabbath commencing.
If these options are not available to a person, a known Pharisee today has said something along the lines of; it is best that a person stay home/in place, and keep the day holy in a legal and meaningful way – instead of breaking the commandment.
Congregations and fellowships can also meet on the ‘Lord’s day’ (ref. Rev 1:10) – meaning Sunday, the day Messiah (Christ) was resurrected;
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
John 20:1 NIV
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
Acts 20:7 NIV
(They met here after evening on Saturday. This would mean that the day was actually Sunday – as a new day starts at the evening.)
Some might mistakenly raise the following rebuttal to the prohibition of starting and driving a car;
‘I do not feel that driving a car is work, or turning a key is starting a fire [directly] therefore I do it…’
Peaceably, in the verse which is interpreted from the Law of Moses which forbids the boiling of anything on the sabbath – there is no mentioning of a fresh fire being made…
What does this mean? To the person who might decide to put a pot of water on a pre-existing fire or flame to boil it on the Sabbath day – such would thus be breaking this commandment also;
‘…“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’”
(Exodus 16:23 ESV)
The verse simply forbids cooking and boiling – just as the other verses in the Bible forbid lighting a fire, buying and selling, and carrying a burden (especially outside) etc.
This would mean that the indirect starting of a fire and boiling of water by turning the key to the ignition of a car – is breaking the commandments which forbid the kindling of a fire, and boiling of water.
Hoping it is of assistance, and that your study of the other Sabbath laws and restrictions is also fruitful.
May the Holy G-d bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen.
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