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Chapter 80:1
Some Activities Forbidden on Shabbos

(The principal "Melachos" which we are forbidden to perform on Shabbos are well-known and therefore will not be mentioned here. The following listing refers to laws which are not common knowledge, and yet frequently arise).

1.It is forbidden to use the light of an oil lamp for any activity which requires some concentration (1). This was forbidden by the Sages lest one inadvertently tilt the lamp in order to bring the oil closer to the wick, thereby violating the [Biblical prohibition] called "Mav'ir" ("kindling" [a fire]) (2). Two people, however, may read the same concept from a single text, because if one of them attempts to tilt the lamp, his colleague will remind him (3).

[Studying by the light of ] our present day candles, in which the wax or tallow adhere to the wicks, is permitted (4). Nevertheless, one must make some sort of mark in order to remember not to snip off the top of the wick that has become charred. The Rambam (Maimonides) considers this to be the violation of a Biblical prohibition (5). It is even forbidden to have a Gentile cut off this portion of the wick.


(1) One is permitted to read portions of the prayers that are somewhat familiar to you by the light of an oil lamp..

(2) "Mav'ir" is one of the 39 categories of activity forbidden on Shabbos.

(3) Most authorities permit this only for reading that is a Mitzvah, such as Torah study or reciting Psalms.

(4) The basic principle is that any candle that never needs to be tilted in order to improve its light, is not included in this prohibition (See Mishna Berura 275:4).

(5) This prohibition is called "Tikkun Maneh" ("Creating a vessel"); in other words, by cutting the one wick into two wicks, one has created a new wick (See Rashi: Beitzah 32:b: D'H: "DeKoMesaken Maneh")

Some Activities Forbidden on Shabbos
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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 2002 Project Genesis, Inc.



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