Working Long Hours

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Someone sent in a question to The Jewish Ethicist about his working long hours in a law firm. R. Dr. Asher Meir responded:

What then is a “standard” work day in a place where there is no custom to extend it? The Talmud tells us that it begins at daybreak, and continues until some time before nightfall, in order to allow the workers to arrive home before dark. (On Shabbat eve the worker needs time to make minimal Shabbat preparations before sundown, so he must leave earlier.) (2)

It’s clear that this is quite a long workday nearly 12 hours on average. Certainly this is not customary today, though in some professions, including yours, 70 hour work weeks are not too unusual.

In other words, “Don’t complain. Historically speaking, until recently everyone worked long hours.

However, he adds that we must dedicate a certain part of the day to learning Torah and that the obligations on a worker should be clearly delineated.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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