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Mesartait in one of the 39 melachot, even though it is not listed in the Mishna on 73a.[1]

What is Mesartait?

Rashi explains that mesartet means etching lines into hides so that they could be cut to the correct measurement. Mesartet isn’t specific to hides and applies to scoring any material in order for it to be cut precisely or written on afterwards. Similarly, the Rambam (Shabbos 11:17) writes that drawing a straight line on a log so that it can be cut evenly is a Toldah of mesartet. Additionally, the Rambam Pirush Mishnayot 7:2 writes that mesartet is done in preparation for writing upon hides.

Rabbi Mayer Twersky (Shabbos shiur 26) suggested another approach. Interestingly, the Rambam (Shabbos 7:1) places mesartet right after kotev, writing, and not in the context of preparing hides. It follows that the Rambam (Shabbos 11:17) writes that the minimal amount one would need to violate in order to be obligated a chatat is etching a line long enough to write above it 2 letters, as 2 letters is the minimal size for the melacha of kotev. Additionally, the Rambam Pirush Mishnayot 7:2 writes that mesartet is done in preparation for writing upon hides. It seems that the Rambam understood mesartet to be etching lines into parchment so that you can write neatly, whereas Rashi understood mesartet to be etching lines into hides for them to be cut correctly.

In the Mishkan

  1. According to Rashi, it is easy to understand where mesartet was used in the construction of the mishkan; when they had to cut the hides to match one another, they would first score them. However, according to the Rambam, there is a question where in the mishkan was the Av melacha of mesartet used. Were the kohanim really so careful about writing down where each beam would be placed, that they would first etch lines before writing? Some suggest that mesartet, according to the Rambam, was used in the construction of the bigdei kehuna as they would need to etch lines into the tzitz and ephod so that the writing upon them would come out straight.[2]


  1. The Gemara Shabbos 75b states that salting and tanning the hides are the same melacha and can’t be considered independent melachot. Because of this, the gemara replaces one of them with mesartet in order to account for 39 melachot exactly.
  2. Torat HaMelachot (vol 7, p. 150) quoting from He'ir Yosef
Category Topic
Mitzvot of Shabbat
Kiddush Levana - Enjoying Shabbat - Fourth meal of Shabbat - Havdalah - Having a meal on Friday - In the Spirit of Shabbat - Kiddush - Lighting Shabbat Candles - Making Early Shabbat - Making one hundred Brachot on Shabbat - Preparing foods on Shabbat - Preparing for Shabbat - Shenayim Mikrah - Kavod Shabbat - Shabbos Davening - Seudat Shabbat - Seudat Shelishit - Lechem Mishneh - Motzei Shabbat - When Does Shabbat Start?
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Allowing Carrying Using an Eruv Chatzerot - Animals on Shabbat - Asking a Jew to work on Shabbat - Asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (Amirah LeNochri) - Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat (Maaseh Shabbat) - Books, notebooks, and papers - Brushing Teeth on Shabbat - Building a structure on Shabbat (Boneh) - Carrying on Shabbat - Cleaning the dishes - Cleaning and Folding Garments on Shabbat - Clearing the table - Cooking (Ofeh and Bishul) - Cosmetics on Shabbat - Dancing and clapping on Shabbat - Electricity on Shabbat - Eruv Chatzerot - Eruvin - Games on Shabbat - Getting dressed on Shabbat - Giving birth on Shabbat - Grinding (Tochen) - Handling objects on Shabbat (Muktzeh) - Infants on Shabbat - Introduction to the Modern Eruv - Kneading (Lash) - Mail on Shabbat - Medicine on Shabbat (Refuah on Shabbat) - Melacha That Begins Before Shabbat - Opening bottles and containers (Boneh) - Plants on Shabbat (Zoreah) - Preparing for after Shabbat (Hachana) - Reading on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Recreation on Shabbat - Sechirut Reshut - Separating mixtures (Borer) - Squeezing fruits (Sechita) - Speaking on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Taking a cruise over Shabbat - Taking measurements on Shabbat - Techum - Transactions on Shabbat - Transportation on Shabbat - Going to and Staying in the Hospital on Shabbat - Wages on Shabbat (Sachar Shabbat) - Washing one’s body on Shabbat
Introduction to Melechet Machshevet - Marbeh Bshiurim - Plowing - Planting - Harvesting - Gathering - Threshing - Winnowing - Separating - Grinding - Sifting - Kneading - Baking and Cooking - Shearing - Laundering - Combing - Dyeing - Spinning - Mounting warp threads - Making two loops - Weaving - Unraveling fabric - Tying - Untying - Gluing, taping, or stapling - Ripping - Trapping - Slaughtering - Skinning - Tanning - Smoothing - Scoring - Cutting precisely - Writing - Erasing - Building - Demolishing - Completing a vessel - Extinguishing a flame - Kindling a fire - Carrying