Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Only a purposeful activity can be considered work.”

Work can be viewed not primarily with respect to the effort involved but with respect to the result that is produced.

One cannot determine what is work and what is not work by comparing the effort invested in each case, but by the results produced.

No matter how much labor was involved, an unorganized effort that produces no results whatsoever, or that produces results that have no positive value, will not be classified as work.

This conception of work is essentially connected with the intention and thought that inform the effort.

Hence, only a purposeful activity can be considered work.

That is, the defining concept of work is not toil but creation. This conception of work is a characteristically human conception, since it is based on the existence and activity of a guiding intentional faculty.

In this conception of work, the existence and measure of work are defined by the quantity and value of the result.

Furthermore, the creative act is not merely an act of organized, intentional effort; rather, it must essentially be an effort whose result is a positive act.

Creativity has a strictly positive meaning, the essence of which is building and progress.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz