קריאות לימי העבודה | Torah and Haftarah Readings for Days Recognizing Organized Labor and Labor Rights, compiled by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

Around the world there are many different national holidays devoted to the worker. As a few examples, in much of the world May 1st is the International Day of the Worker, whereas in in the US and Canada Labo(u)r Day is on the first Monday of September. Judaism has a long history of fighting for the right to be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work. This is a Torah reading (divided into three aliyot) and a Haftarah reading to be recited on a national labor holiday. The aliyot are from Vayakhel, describing the construction of the Tabernacle. The first aliyah celebrates the wisdom and strength embodied in manual craftsmanship, and the second brings them to work. The first describes a scenario where the Israelites had given so many pledges that the workers had too much to work with — the kind of problem any organization would dream of having these days! The Haftarah, from the book of Jeremiah, is a bitter “J’accuse!’ denouncing those in power who exploit labor for their own benefit, living in luxury while their employees starve. Like many haftarot, though, it ends later in the book for the purpose of ending on a positive note.

These readings would be performed as in a normal Torah service on weekdays, with two exceptions. If your local labor holiday occurs on a regular Shabbat, then all three readings would be joined together as a special maftir and the haftarah would not be read. If it occurs on a special Shabbat (i.e. one with a distinct maftir) or on a festival, then the entire reading, including the haftarah, is moved to the next weekday.

Note: “The CAUSE” is used to translate the Divine Name YHVH, based on the philosophical idea of God as the Prime Mover and on the interpretation of the Name as a causative form of the copula – “causes to be.”

This is part three of what will be a series of Torah and Haftarah readings for civic holidays. A reading for Memorial Day can be found here, and one for American Independence Day can be found here.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

קריאות לימי העבודה (לאומי או בינלאומי)‏
Scriptural Readings for Labor Holidays (National or International)

כהן (שמות לה:ל-לה)
Cohen (Exodus 35:30-35)

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל רְא֛וּ קָרָ֥א יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּשֵׁ֑ם בְּצַלְאֵ֛ל בֶּן־אוּרִ֥י בֶן־ח֖וּר לְמַטֵּ֥ה יְהוּדָֽה׃ וַיְמַלֵּ֥א אֹת֖וֹ ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֑ים בְּחׇכְמָ֛ה בִּתְבוּנָ֥ה וּבְדַ֖עַת וּבְכׇל־מְלָאכָֽה׃ וְלַחְשֹׁ֖ב מַֽחֲשָׁבֹ֑ת לַעֲשֹׂ֛ת בַּזָּהָ֥ב וּבַכֶּ֖סֶף וּבַנְּחֹֽשֶׁת׃ וּבַחֲרֹ֥שֶׁת אֶ֛בֶן לְמַלֹּ֖את וּבַחֲרֹ֣שֶׁת עֵ֑ץ לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת בְּכׇל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת מַחֲשָֽׁבֶת׃ וּלְהוֹרֹ֖ת נָתַ֣ן בְּלִבּ֑וֹ ה֕וּא וְאׇֽהֳלִיאָ֥ב בֶּן־אֲחִיסָמָ֖ךְ לְמַטֵּה־דָֽן׃ מִלֵּ֨א אֹתָ֜ם חׇכְמַת־לֵ֗ב לַעֲשׂוֹת֮ כׇּל־מְלֶ֣אכֶת חָרָ֣שׁ ׀ וְחֹשֵׁב֒ וְרֹקֵ֞ם בַּתְּכֵ֣לֶת וּבָֽאַרְגָּמָ֗ן בְּתוֹלַ֧עַת הַשָּׁנִ֛י וּבַשֵּׁ֖שׁ וְאֹרֵ֑ג עֹשֵׂי֙ כׇּל־מְלָאכָ֔ה וְחֹשְׁבֵ֖י מַחֲשָׁבֹֽת׃
And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the CAUSE has called by name Betsalel son of Uri son of Ḥur of the tribe of Judah; has filled him with a divine spirit in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all labor; to design designs, to work in gold and in silver and in bronze; in carving stone for settings and in carving wood, to do all designed work; and to teach – God has placed this in his heart, him and Oholiav son of Aḥisamakh of the tribe of Dan. God filled them with a wise mind to do all the work of the carver, the designer, the embroiderer in blue and crimson and scarlet and linen and weavings, works of all labor and designs of design.”

לוי (שמות לו:א-ג)
Levi (Exodus 36:1-3)

וְעָשָׂה֩ בְצַלְאֵ֨ל וְאׇהֳלִיאָ֜ב וְכֹ֣ל ׀ אִ֣ישׁ חֲכַם־לֵ֗ב אֲשֶׁר֩ נָתַ֨ן יְהֹוָ֜ה חׇכְמָ֤ה וּתְבוּנָה֙ בָּהֵ֔מָּה לָדַ֣עַת לַעֲשֹׂ֔ת אֶֽת־כׇּל־מְלֶ֖אכֶת עֲבֹדַ֣ת הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ לְכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖ה יְהֹוָֽה׃ וַיִּקְרָ֣א מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶל־בְּצַלְאֵל֘ וְאֶל־אׇֽהֳלִיאָב֒ וְאֶל֙ כׇּל־אִ֣ישׁ חֲכַם־לֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁ֨ר נָתַ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה חׇכְמָ֖ה בְּלִבּ֑וֹ כֹּ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר נְשָׂא֣וֹ לִבּ֔וֹ לְקׇרְבָ֥ה אֶל־הַמְּלָאכָ֖ה לַעֲשֹׂ֥ת אֹתָֽהּ׃ וַיִּקְח֞וּ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֵ֤ת כׇּל־הַתְּרוּמָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵבִ֜יאוּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִמְלֶ֛אכֶת עֲבֹדַ֥ת הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ לַעֲשֹׂ֣ת אֹתָ֑הּ וְ֠הֵ֠ם הֵבִ֨יאוּ אֵלָ֥יו ע֛וֹד נְדָבָ֖ה בַּבֹּ֥קֶר בַּבֹּֽקֶר׃
And they worked—Betsalel and Oholiav and all the wise-minded people to whom the CAUSE had given wisdom and —to know and to work on the labor of the sacred work, for all that the CAUSE had commanded. And Moses called to Betsalel and to Oholiav and to all the wise-minded people to whom the CAUSE had given wisdom in their mind, all whom had great minds, to come to the work and do it. And they took over from Moses the gifts that the children of Israel had brought to work on the labor of the sacred work to do it, and they were bringing more free-offerings to them every morning.

מפטיר (שמות לו:ד-ז)
Maftir (Exodus 36:4-7)

וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ כׇּל־הַ֣חֲכָמִ֔ים הָעֹשִׂ֕ים אֵ֖ת כׇּל־מְלֶ֣אכֶת הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ אִֽישׁ־אִ֥ישׁ מִמְּלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁר־הֵ֥מָּה עֹשִֽׂים׃ וַיֹּאמְרוּ֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה לֵּאמֹ֔ר מַרְבִּ֥ים הָעָ֖ם לְהָבִ֑יא מִדֵּ֤י הָֽעֲבֹדָה֙ לַמְּלָאכָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לַעֲשֹׂ֥ת אֹתָֽהּ׃ וַיְצַ֣ו מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיַּעֲבִ֨ירוּ ק֥וֹל בַּֽמַּחֲנֶה֮ לֵאמֹר֒ אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֗ה אַל־יַעֲשׂוּ־ע֛וֹד מְלָאכָ֖ה לִתְרוּמַ֣ת הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וַיִּכָּלֵ֥א הָעָ֖ם מֵהָבִֽיא׃ וְהַמְּלָאכָ֗ה הָיְתָ֥ה דַיָּ֛ם לְכׇל־הַמְּלָאכָ֖ה לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת אֹתָ֑הּ וְהוֹתֵֽר׃
And they came, the wise people, makers of the sacred labor, each person from their labor that they were doing. And they said to Moses, saying, “The people have brought more than enough for the work for the labor that the CAUSE commanded to do!” And Moses commanded—and they passed the announcement through the camp—saying, “Every man or woman, do not make more labor for the sacred gifts!” and the people ceased bringing. And the work was enough for all the labor to do, and more.

הפטרה (ירמיהו כב:א-יט, ירמיהו כג:ג-ו)
Haftarah (Jeremiah 22:1–19, 23:3-6)

כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה רֵ֖ד בֵּֽית־מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֑ה וְדִבַּרְתָּ֣ שָׁ֔ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּֽה׃ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֙ שְׁמַ֣ע דְּבַר־יְהֹוָ֔ה מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֔ה הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֣א דָוִ֑ד אַתָּ֤ה וַעֲבָדֶ֙יךָ֙ וְעַמְּךָ֔ הַבָּאִ֖ים בַּשְּׁעָרִ֥ים הָאֵֽלֶּה׃ כֹּ֣ה  ׀ אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֗ה עֲשׂ֤וּ מִשְׁפָּט֙ וּצְדָקָ֔ה וְהַצִּ֥ילוּ גָז֖וּל מִיַּ֣ד עָשׁ֑וֹק וְגֵר֩ יָת֨וֹם וְאַלְמָנָ֤ה אַל־תֹּנוּ֙ אַל־תַּחְמֹ֔סוּ וְדָ֣ם נָקִ֔י אַֽל־תִּשְׁפְּכ֖וּ בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ כִּ֤י אִם־עָשׂוֹ֙ תַּעֲשׂ֔וּ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּ֑ה וּבָ֣אוּ בְשַׁעֲרֵ֣י הַבַּ֣יִת הַזֶּ֡ה מְלָכִים֩ יֹשְׁבִ֨ים לְדָוִ֜ד עַל־כִּסְא֗וֹ רֹֽכְבִים֙ בָּרֶ֣כֶב וּבַסּוּסִ֔ים ה֥וּא וַעֲבָדָ֖ו וְעַמּֽוֹ׃ וְאִם֙ לֹ֣א תִשְׁמְע֔וּ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה בִּ֤י נִשְׁבַּ֙עְתִּי֙ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֔ה כִּֽי־לְחׇרְבָּ֥ה יִֽהְיֶ֖ה הַבַּ֥יִת הַזֶּֽה׃ 
Thus says the CAUSE: Go down to the house of the king of Judah and say there this word. And say, Listen to the word of the CAUSE, o king of Judah who sits on the throne of David, you and your servants and your people coming in these gates! Thus says the CAUSE, do justice and right, and save the robbed from the hand of the exploiter, and do not oppress or harm the orphan and the immigrant and the widow, and do not spill the blood of the innocent in this place! For if you follow this word, then kings of David’s line will come in these gates and sit on his throne, riding on chariots and on horses, him and his servants and his people. And if you do not listen to these words, well, I have sworn—declares the CAUSE—that a ruin this house will be!

כִּי־כֹ֣ה  ׀ אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֗ה עַל־בֵּית֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֔ה גִּלְעָ֥ד אַתָּ֛ה לִ֖י רֹ֣אשׁ הַלְּבָנ֑וֹן אִם־לֹ֤א אֲשִֽׁיתְךָ֙ מִדְבָּ֔ר עָרִ֖ים לֹ֥א נושבה נוֹשָֽׁבוּ׃ וְקִדַּשְׁתִּ֥י עָלֶ֛יךָ מַשְׁחִתִ֖ים אִ֣ישׁ וְכֵלָ֑יו וְכָֽרְתוּ֙ מִבְחַ֣ר אֲרָזֶ֔יךָ וְהִפִּ֖ילוּ עַל־הָאֵֽשׁ׃ וְעָֽבְרוּ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים עַ֖ל הָעִ֣יר הַזֹּ֑את וְאָֽמְרוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵ֔הוּ עַל־מֶ֨ה עָשָׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ כָּ֔כָה לָעִ֥יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֖ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ וְאָ֣מְר֔וּ עַ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָזְב֔וּ אֶת־בְּרִ֥ית יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּֽשְׁתַּחֲו֛וּ לֵאלֹהִ֥ים אֲחֵרִ֖ים וַיַּעַבְדֽוּם׃ 
For thus says the CAUSE against the house of the king of Judah, Gilead were you to me, the head of Lebanon, but I will make you a desert, towns without inhabitants. And I will sanctify against you destroyers, each with their tools, and they will cut down your choice cedars and turn them to fire. And many nations will pass by this city and say, one to another, “For what did the CAUSE do thus to this great city?” And they will say, “For they transgressed the covenant of the CAUSE their God and bowed to other deities and worshipped them.”

אַל־תִּבְכּ֣וּ לְמֵ֔ת וְאַל־תָּנֻ֖דוּ ל֑וֹ בְּכ֤וּ בָכוֹ֙ לַהֹלֵ֔ךְ כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָשׁוּב֙ ע֔וֹד וְרָאָ֖ה אֶת־אֶ֥רֶץ מוֹלַדְתּֽוֹ׃
Cry not for the dead, nor lament for them, cry for those who go, for they will not return again nor see their birth-land!

כִּ֣י כֹ֣ה אָֽמַר־יְ֠הֹוָ֠ה אֶל־שַׁלֻּ֨ם בֶּן־יֹאשִׁיָּ֜הוּ מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֗ה הַמֹּלֵךְ֙ תַּ֚חַת יֹאשִׁיָּ֣הוּ אָבִ֔יו אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָצָ֖א מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה לֹא־יָשׁ֥וּב שָׁ֖ם עֽוֹד׃ כִּ֗י בִּמְק֛וֹם אֲשֶׁר־הִגְל֥וּ אֹת֖וֹ שָׁ֣ם יָמ֑וּת וְאֶת־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַזֹּ֖את לֹֽא־יִרְאֶ֥ה עֽוֹד׃
For thus says the CAUSE against Shallum son of Josiah king of Judah, who reigns in place of Josiah his father: one who has gone from this place will not return again. For in the place of their exile they will die, and will not see the land again.

ה֣וֹי בֹּנֶ֤ה בֵיתוֹ֙ בְּֽלֹא־צֶ֔דֶק וַעֲלִיּוֹתָ֖יו בְּלֹ֣א מִשְׁפָּ֑ט בְּרֵעֵ֙הוּ֙ יַעֲבֹ֣ד חִנָּ֔ם וּפֹעֲל֖וֹ לֹ֥א יִתֶּן־לֽוֹ׃ הָאֹמֵ֗ר אֶבְנֶה־לִּי֙ בֵּ֣ית מִדּ֔וֹת וַעֲלִיּ֖וֹת מְרֻוָּחִ֑ים וְקָ֤רַֽע לוֹ֙ חַלּוֹנָ֔י וְסָפ֣וּן בָּאָ֔רֶז וּמָשׁ֖וֹחַ בַּשָּׁשַֽׁר׃ הֲתִֽמְלֹ֔ךְ כִּ֥י אַתָּ֖ה מְתַחֲרֶ֣ה בָאָ֑רֶז אָבִ֜יךָ הֲל֧וֹא אָכַ֣ל וְשָׁתָ֗ה וְעָשָׂ֤ה מִשְׁפָּט֙ וּצְדָקָ֔ה אָ֖ז ט֥וֹב לֽוֹ׃ דָּ֛ן דִּין־עָנִ֥י וְאֶבְי֖וֹן אָ֣ז ט֑וֹב הֲלוֹא־הִ֛יא הַדַּ֥עַת אֹתִ֖י נְאֻם־יְהֹוָֽה׃ כִּ֣י אֵ֤ין עֵינֶ֙יךָ֙ וְלִבְּךָ֔ כִּ֖י אִם־עַל־בִּצְעֶ֑ךָ וְעַ֤ל דַּֽם־הַנָּקִי֙ לִשְׁפּ֔וֹךְ וְעַל־הָעֹ֥שֶׁק וְעַל־הַמְּרוּצָ֖ה לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃
Oy, who builds his house unfairly, his high chambers unjustly; who works his fellow without pay, and does not repay his labor! He who says, “I will build me a vast house with airy chambers, and split it with my windows, cedar-paneled, painted with vermillion!” Are you any more of a king because you work in cedar? Didn’t you father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness as was good for him? He righted the rights of the poor and the needy as is good, and is that not knowing me?—declares the CAUSE. For your eyes and your heart are only on your cut, on the spilt blood of the innocent, on doing extortion and violence.

לָכֵ֞ן כֹּה־אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֗ה אֶל־יְהוֹיָקִ֤ים בֶּן־יֹאשִׁיָּ֙הוּ֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֔ה לֹא־יִסְפְּד֣וּ ל֔וֹ ה֥וֹי אָחִ֖י וְה֣וֹי אָח֑וֹת לֹא־יִסְפְּד֣וּ ל֔וֹ ה֥וֹי אָד֖וֹן וְה֥וֹי הֹדֹֽה׃ קְבוּרַ֥ת חֲמ֖וֹר יִקָּבֵ֑ר סָח֣וֹב וְהַשְׁלֵ֔ךְ מֵהָ֖לְאָה לְשַׁעֲרֵ֥י יְרוּשָׁלָֽ‍ִם׃ 
Therefore, thus says the CAUSE of Jehoiaqim son of Josiah king of Judah: they shall not eulogize him “Oy, my brother, and oy, my sister!” They will not eulogize him, “Oy, lord, and oy, majesty!” He shall be buried as the burial of a donkey, dragged and thrown out the gates of Jerusalem.

וַאֲנִ֗י אֲקַבֵּץ֙ אֶת־שְׁאֵרִ֣ית צֹאנִ֔י מִכֹּל֙ הָאֲרָצ֔וֹת אֲשֶׁר־הִדַּ֥חְתִּי אֹתָ֖ם שָׁ֑ם וַהֲשִׁבֹתִ֥י אֶתְהֶ֛ן עַל־נְוֵהֶ֖ן וּפָר֥וּ וְרָבֽוּ׃ וַהֲקִמֹתִ֧י עֲלֵיהֶ֛ם רֹעִ֖ים וְרָע֑וּם וְלֹא־יִֽירְא֨וּ ע֧וֹד וְלֹא־יֵחַ֛תּוּ וְלֹ֥א יִפָּקֵ֖דוּ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָֽה׃
But I, I will regather the remnant of My flock from all the lands to which I banished them, and I will return them to their pasture and they will be fruitful and multiply. And I will set over them shepherds to tend them, and they will be no more afraid, no more dismayed, no more missing—declares the CAUSE.

הִנֵּ֨ה יָמִ֤ים בָּאִים֙ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֔ה וַהֲקִמֹתִ֥י לְדָוִ֖ד צֶ֣מַח צַדִּ֑יק וּמָ֤לַךְ מֶ֙לֶךְ֙ וְהִשְׂכִּ֔יל וְעָשָׂ֛ה מִשְׁפָּ֥ט וּצְדָקָ֖ה בָּאָֽרֶץ׃ בְּיָמָיו֙ תִּוָּשַׁ֣ע יְהוּדָ֔ה וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל יִשְׁכֹּ֣ן לָבֶ֑טַח וְזֶה־שְּׁמ֥וֹ אֲֽשֶׁר־יִקְרְא֖וֹ יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ צִדְקֵֽנוּ׃
Behold, days come—declare the CAUSE—where I will set for David a righteous branch, a ruling sovereign, wise, doing justice in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, Israel will dwell in security, and this is the name he will be called: the CAUSE Makes Us Right!

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