Parshas Chayei Sarah
QUESTION: After using the bathroom at any time during the day or
one required to wash his hands three times with a vessel like he does upon
arising in the morning (negel vasser)?
DISCUSSION: The consensus of the poskim is that one is not required
wash his hands three times with a vessel after using the bathroom. The
ruach ra'ah (evil spirit) which adheres to one's hands after using the
bathroom is different from the ruach ra'ah which adheres to one's hands
upon arising and does not require the stricter procedure of washing three
times with a vessel.(1) But since there are poskim who disagree and hold
that there is no distinction between these different "evil spirits," it is
praiseworthy for one to be meticulous and wash his hands alternately three
times with a vessel after using the bathroom(2) - but it is not mandatory.
QUESTION: Are pets muktzeh on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
DISCUSSION: The Talmud(3) states that it is forbidden to move
Shabbos. In Halachic terms, animals are considered like sticks and stones
which have no permissible Shabbos use and are muktzeh machmas gufo, severe
muktzeh, which may not be moved for any reason. This ruling is quoted by
the Shulchan Aruch(4) and most of the later poskim and no distinction is
drawn between farm animals and households pets; all are considered severe
muktzeh. Some poskim expressly include "playful animals" in this
There are, however, other poskim who do distinguish between farm
animals and household pets. In their opinion, a pet is considered like a
household item, similar to a toy or a picture, and is not classified as
muktzeh at all.(6) While it is advisable to follow the majority opinion
and not carry or move pets on Shabbos,(7) those who are lenient have a
halachic authority upon whom to rely.(8) Certainly, if the pet is in
distress, one may be lenient and move it or carry it.(9)
All opinions agree that it is permitted to touch (without moving) or
feed one's pets on Shabbos. It is also permitted to hold onto a leash and
walk a dog in an area which is enclosed by an eiruv.(10) It is permitted
to place a leash on a dog on Shabbos.(11)
QUESTION: If a shoelace snaps on Shabbos or Yom Tov, may a new
inserted into the eyelets of the shoe or sneaker?
DISCUSSION: Shulchan Aruch rules that inserting a new shoelace into
eyelets of a shoe on Shabbos or Yom Tov is a violation of meskaen mana,
Making a Vessel, which is a toladah of Makeh Bepatish.(12) Because a tie-
shoe that is missing its shoelace is unsafe and uncomfortable to wear,
inserting a lace [which will remain there for an extended period of
time] "makes" the shoe into a wearable shoe, thus "creating" the shoe.
Although a minority opinion suggests that this concern applied only in the
olden times when a professional shoemaker was required to insert the lace,
and does not apply in modern times when inserting a shoelace is a routine
matter,(13) the vast majority of poskim disagree and make no distinction
between old-style and modern shoes. It is, therefore, forbidden min ha-
Torah to insert a new or a used shoelace into the eyelets of a shoe on
Shabbos or Yom Tov.(14)
What may be done when a shoelace snaps and one needs to wear that
shoe on Shabbos or Yom Tov? There are several available options:
* A new shoelace may be inserted into some - but not to all - of the
eyelets of the shoe. This is permitted because after Shabbos, the lace
will be removed and re-inserted in the proper manner; it will not remain
in the shoe for an extended period of time.(15)
* The torn half of the snapped shoelace may be re-inserted into the
eyelets of the shoe.(16)
* The torn halves of the shoelace could be tied together with a bow and re-
inserted into the eyelets.(17)
* It is permitted to insert a shoelace of a starkly contrasting color into
the eyelets of the shoe, e.g., a red or a yellow shoelace into a black
shoe. This is permitted because such a shoelace will not be left in the
shoe for an extended period of time.(18)
QUESTION: How may a garbage bag be tied on Shabbos or Yom Tov?
DISCUSSION: One must be extremely careful about how garbage bags
on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since once a garbage bag is tied up, the knot is
generally left as is until the bag is picked up by the garbage department
days later. A knot left for that length of time may be considered a
permanent knot and tying it on Shabbos may be strictly prohibited.(19)
Thus the common practice of bunching and twisting the top of the garbage
bag, making a loop, pulling the ends of the bag through the loop and
tightening the loop to form a knot - is forbidden. It is also forbidden to
extend the two top corners of the bag, tie them together and make a bow
[as if tying a shoelace], or to tuck in the corners of the bag under the
knot to strengthen the knot. The only permissible knots that could be made
on a garbage bag are a slip knot - a loop which is not completely pulled
through and does not form a knot at the top of the bag; or a single knot,
which is like the first stage of tying a shoelace. Such knots can be tied
with a bow or another knot on Motzaei Shabbos.
An alternate solution for sealing garbage bags which totally avoids
any forbidden Shabbos Labors is to use a rubber band instead of tying a
knot. Rubber bands keep bags as tightly sealed as a knot or a twister.
QUESTION: May a safety pin be used on Shabbos and Yom Tov?
DISCUSSION: This issue is widely debated by the poskim. A minority
maintains that using a safety pin [or a straight pin] to connect fragments
of a torn garment, to pin up a loose hem or to fasten a shank button to a
garment, should be avoided on Shabbos and Yom Tov. In their opinion,
pinning is included in the Shabbos Labor of Sewing, since the safety pin
binds two [or more] previously disconnected or torn parts of a garment,
just as Sewing does.(20)
But the vast majority of the poskim disagree and maintain that it is
permitted to use a safety pin on Shabbos without restriction. They explain
that using a pin is not considered Sewing at all, since no thread or other
bonding agent is being used. In addition, Sewing is defined as connecting
two pieces of material into a single solid piece; an entity that could
only be separated by the process of tearing or cutting.(21) Using a safety
pin to connect two pieces of fabric is similar to buttoning a shirt or
zipping a zipper, which is not considered Sewing at all.(22)
The basic halachah follows the lenient opinion.(23) Still, when
possible, it is recommended that one or more of the following be done in
order to satisfy the more stringent opinion:
* Insert the safety pin only one time into each section of the materials
* After Shabbos, remove the safety pin and separate the pinned-together
* Avoid using small, less noticeable safety pins, since they are more
likely to be left in place for an extended period of time.
* Use a straight pin rather than a safety pin, since a straight pin is
less likely to be left in a garment for an extended period of time.
QUESTION: May a a boy under the age of thirteen or a girl under the
twelve be given the task of performing tevilas keilim?
DISCUSSION: Technically speaking, yes. As mentioned earlier, even
which fell into the mikveh inadvertently are considered immersed; surely
then, if they were immersed by a child the tevilah is valid. But
practically speaking, if an adult did not supervise the tevilah, we have
no assurance that the utensil was immersed properly. Merely relying on the
child's say-so, even a child who is generally responsible and trustworthy,
is not always halachically sufficient, especially in cases where the
obligation of tevilah is Min ha-Torah. The following rules apply:
* Utensils made of gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead, which require
tevilah min ha-Torah, may not be immersed by a minor(26) unless an adult
supervises the tevilah.(27) If an adult failed to supervise the tevilah,
then it must be repeated by an adult. The blessing, however, should not be
* Utensils which must be immersed mi-derabanan, such as those made of
aluminum,(29) glass(30) (including, pyrex, duralex and corelle), glazed
earthenware, lead-coated earthenware, china, corningware or porcelain
enamel,(31) l'chatchilah should also be immersed by an an adult.(32) But
if an adult is not available, they may be given to a responsible and
trustworthy minor for tevilah.(33) The minor then recites the blessing
over the tevilah.(34)
1 See O.C. 165:1; Mishnah Berurah 4:39; Aruch ha-Shulchan 4:21; Minchas
2 See Ben Ish Chai (Toldos 16); Kaf ha-Chayim 4:61; Emes L'yaakov O.C. 4,
note 11; Halichos Shelomo, Tefillah 20:25-26.
3 See Shabbos 128b.
4 O.C. 308:39
5 See Tosfos, Shabbos 45b s.v. hachah; Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav 308:78; Da'as
Torah 308:39; Kaf ha-Chayim 308:235.
6 Minchas Shabbos 88:10, quoting Nezer Yisrael and Halachos Ketanos; Az
7 Minchas Shabbos, ibid; Yabia Omer 5:26.
8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach; see Shulchan Shelomo O.C. 308:74-4; B'tzeil ha-
Chachmah 5:33-34. There are conflicting sources concerning Harav M.
Feinstein's opinion on this subject; see Sefer Tiltulei Shabbos, pg. 119
and Igros Moshe O.C. 5:22-21.
9 See Mishnah Berurah 305:70 and Chazon Ish O.C. 52:16.
10 Under certain, very specific conditions, it is even permitted to walk a
dog with a leash in a public domain; see O.C. 305:16 and Aruch ha-Shulchan
11 O.C. 305:1, 8, 10.
12 O.C. 317:2 and Mishnah Berurah 18.
13 Be'er Moshe 2:20.
14 See Shulchan Shelomo 317:7; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 15, note 197;
Az Nidberu 3:31; Btzeil ha-Chachmah 4:159.
15 Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 15:60.
16 Only a new shoelace, or a shoelace from a different shoe, cannot be
inserted into the eyelets of a shoe on Shabbos.
17 Ayil Meshulash, Kosher U'matir 10:6-2.
18 Ketzos ha-Shulchan 146:3.
19 See Tikunim U'miluim 35, note 63 and Ayil Meshulash, Kosher U'matir,
20 Mishnah Berurah 340:27, quoting Korban Nesanel.
21 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 317:18.
22 Aishel Avraham O.C. 526; Chazon Ish O.C. 156; Igros Moshe O.C. 2:84;
Be'er Moshe 2:29; Tzitz Eliezer 13:43. See Binyan Shabbos, Tofer, 10:2.
23 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 15, note 244).
24 Minchas Yitzchak 2:19; Shevet ha-Levi 4:35.
25 Based on Sha'arei Teshuvah 340:3.
26 Some poskim hold that merely being over bar or bas mitzvah age is
insufficient - to perform tevilas keilim one must display signs of
puberty; see Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 120:14.
27 Rama, Y.D. 120:14. If an adult is supervising, then even l'chatchilah a
minor may immerse the utensils and recite the blessing; Levush Y.D. 120:14.
28 Based on the view of Beiur ha-Gra Y.D. 127:32 that a minor can be
trusted when it is beyado lesaken. See also Chochmas Adam 72:16.
29 Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:22.
30 Mishnah Berurah 509:30
31 Binas Adam 73:65. See also Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos, O.C. 451:31
32 Since Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos 451:6, quoted by Pischei Teshuvah Y.D.
120:14 remains doubtful if a minor can be trusted in cases of ischazek
33 Rav Akiva Eiger Y.D. 120:14; Chachmas Adam 73:21. See also Mishnah
Berurah 437:17 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 19 who rules that minors may be
trusted in mi-derabanan cases of ischazek isura.
34 Darkei Teshuvah Y.D. 120:105.
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