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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Bo

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


QUESTION: Which bottle caps may or may not be opened on Shabbos?

DISCUSSION: Bottle caps which lift off with a bottle opener may be removed(1).

Most poskim(2) hold that bottle caps made out of metal(3) which break when unscrewed and leave a ring around the bottle neck [and bottle caps which perforate along the edge when the bottle is opened(4)] are forbidden to be unscrewed(5). This is prohibited since the cap, which originally served as a seal, now becomes a functional cap which is used as a cover6. Thus, the first time the cap is unscrewed, it completes the formation of a utensil -?the bottle cap. While other poskim(7) disagree with this and allow metal bottle caps to be opened, it has become accepted custom to follow the opinion of the poskim who are stringent.

If, mistakenly, such a bottle was opened on Shabbos, it is permitted to drink the beverage. The bottle cap itself, however, is muktzeh(8).

But only caps made out of metal are included in this prohibition. It is permissible to unscrew a plastic cap, even if it separates and leaves a ring around the bottle neck. This is because plastic caps are functional even before they are screwed onto a bottle [as opposed to metal ones which -?due to technological differences - become operational only after being unscrewed from the bottle the first time(9)].

Often, people break off the sharp edges of a metal cap [which was opened before Shabbos] so that they will not injure themselves on them. It is prohibited to do so on Shabbos(10).

Often, there are letters or words written on the sides of plastic bottle caps (e.g., those produced by Pepsi Co.). When the bottle cap is twisted open, these letters may break and become erased. Those bottles should be opened before Shabbos.

QUESTION: May a woman daven Mincha after she has lit candles on Friday night?

DISCUSSION: L'chatchilah, all poskim agree that she should daven Mincha before lighting candles. When a woman lights candles, she automatically accepts upon herself the restrictions and obligations of the Shabbos day. This precludes her davening the previous day's Mincha. If, however, a woman is running late and has not davened Mincha by candle-lighting time, the poskim differ as to what she should do. There are three views: She should go ahead and light candles. She should then daven the Shemoneh Esrei of the Shabbos Ma'ariv twice to compensate for the los t Minchah(11). Even though women do not usually daven Ma'ariv, she may do so in this case in order to make up the lost Mincha(12);

Before lighting, she should stipulate that she is not accepting the Shabbos until after she has davened Mincha(13). Some poskim hold that this should not be done on Yom Tov if she recited shehecheyanu at the candle-lighting(14);

A minority view rules that she may daven Minchah after lighting candles even if she did not stipulate that she was not accepting the Shabbos(15).

Note that when men light candles, they do not automatically accept the Shabbos with their candle-lighting(16). They may daven Minchah after lighting candles.

QUESTION: What are the halachos that govern handling and touching flowers on Shabbos?

DISCUSSION: Flowers, while still connected to the ground, may be smelled and touched, provided that their stems are soft and do not normally become brittle(17).

Flowers in a vase may be moved on Shabbos(18). They may not, however, be moved from a shady area to a sunny area to promote blossoming. If the buds have not fully bloomed, the vase may be moved but just slightly, since the movement of the water hastens the opening of the buds(19).

One may remove flowers from a vase full of water, as long as they have not sprouted roots in the water(20). Once removed, they may not be put back in the water if that will cause further blossoming.

Water may not be added to a flower vase on Shabbos(21). On Yom Tov, however, water may be added but not changed(22).

Flowers should be placed in water before Shabbos. In case they were not, they may not be placed in water on Shabbos if the buds have not blossomed fully. If the buds are completely opened, however, some poskim permit placing them in water on Shabbos(23).

One may not gather flowers or create an arrangement and place it in a vase on Shabbos, even if the vase contains no water(24).


1 Mishnah Berurah 314:17; Chazon Ish 51:11.

2 Harav Y. Kamenetsky quoted in Emes L'yaakov O.C. 314:8; Harav Y.Y. Weiss quoted in Divrei Moshe O.C. 12-13; Harav S.Z. Auerbach in Minchas Shelomo, pg. 551 and in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 9:17; Harav Y. S. Elyashiv quoted in Shalmei Yehudah, pg. 104; Harav S. Wosner quoted in Shomer Shabbos Ka-das; Az Nidberu 3:40.

3 Common on liqueur bottles, etc.

4 Harav S.Z. Auerbach in a written responsum published in Me'or ha-Shabbos vol. 1, pg. 481; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 9 note *61.

5 One may, however, puncture a hole in the cap and then unscrew it;?Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 9:17, or better yet, puncture a wide hole in the cap and then pour the beverage through the punctured hole;??Meleches Shabbos, pg. 344.

6 Even if the cap was partially unscrewed before Shabbos, but it remained attached to the ring, it is prohibited to unscrew it further on Shabbos;?Binyan Shabbos, pg. 139; Meleches Shabbos, pg. 343.

7 Harav Y.Y. Fischer in Even Yisrael vol. 2:14; Tzitz Eliezer 14:45; Yechaveh Da'as 2:42; L'horos Nasan 7:21; Kinyan Torah 4:34; Harav Y. Roth in Ohr ha-Shabbos, vol. 11. [Igros Moshe does not address this issue, and there are conflicting reports as to what Harav M. Feinstein's opinion was.]

8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach, written responsum published in Me'or ha-Shabbos, vol. 2, pg. 612.

9 Harav S.Z. Auerbach in Tikunim u'Miluim pg. 14 and in Me'or ha-Shabbos, vol. 1, pg. 481-482. See further explanation in Binyan Shabbos, pg. 94. [Harav Y.Y. Weiss is quoted (Kol ha-Torah, vol. 42, pg. 14) as prohibiting plastic caps as well.] It is also permitted to remove the plastic caps that are opened by tearing a narrow strip connected to the bottom of the cap ? Binyan Shabbos, pg. 94 quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach.

10 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Binyan Shabbos, pg. 97).

11 This is the view of the Mishnah Berurah 263:43.

12 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 43:110).

13 Eishel Avraham 263:10; Kaf ha-Chayim 263:35; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (oral ruling quoted in Avnei Yashfeh on Tefillah, 2nd edition, pg. 201).

14 Tzitz Eliezer 10:19-5. This is basedon the view of several poskim who hold that one cannot recite shehecheyanu, which celebrates the arrival of the Yom Tov, and at the same time stipulate that he is not accepting Yom Tov's arrival. But other poskim disagree and hold that the shehecheyanu recited during candle lighting does not celebrate the arrival of the Yom Tov; rather she is reciting shehecheyanu over the mitzvah of lighting candles, see Emes L'Yaakov O.C. 585:2.

15 Several poskim quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 43:128.

16 Mishnah Berurah 263:42. It is still, however, preferable even for men to stipulate that they are not mekabel Shabbos when lighting candles.

17 Mishnah Berurah 336:48.

18 Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, pg. 64).

19 Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Shalmei Yehudah, pg. 73); Bris Olam, pg. 32.

20 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 333).

21 Mishnah Berurah 336:54.

22 O.C. 654:1; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 333.

23 See Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 336:48; Yechaveh Da'as 2:53. Harav S.Z. Auerbach is quoted (Nishmas Avraham O.C. 336) as being stringent on this.

24 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:73.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1999 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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