Plowing is the hardest work of farming. When you want to plant seeds, like wheat seeds for example, and harvest them, you need to plow the soil first. Loosening up the ground around those seeds so that water will get to them, and so that they will be able to grow. You can plow even with a strong stick: you stick it in the ground and wiggle it around, and then drop a seed in, covering it loosely with dirt.
But when you want to plow an entire field it's faster to use a real plow, pulled by horses, donkeys or an ox. As the animals push it along through the dirt, the soil gets ready to host the seeds.
On Shabbat it is prohibited to plow the ground --to level it off or make holes in it, like the holes used for planting seeds or for planting trees. Included in this prohibition is any preparation or improvement of land for agricultural use.
Involuntary plowing should be prevented as well. This includes for example carrying a heavy object -a very heavy chair for example- in soft ground, unintentionally making furrows. Making holes or furrows in the ground and making mere compressions in the ground is different. The latter, which is what wheels of a wheelchair or a baby carriage might do to the ground, is permissible on Shabbat.
Shabbat ends in NYC: 5:50 PM
Click here to see real Plowing:
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024