THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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(1) SQUEEZING GRAPES AND OLIVES -- AN AV MELACHAH?
QUESTION: RASHI (DH she'To'anin) states that squeezing grapes and olives is
an Av Melachah. This is difficult to understand for two reasons.
(2) HALACHAH: USING A SHABBOS-CLOCK
(a) Squeezing juice out of a fruit is not an Av Melachah, but is a Toldah
of threshing ("Dash"). Yet Rashi says that squeezing grapes and olives on
Shabbos is an Av Melachah.
ANSWER: RAV DOVID COHEN (Gevul Ya'avetz) explains that Rashi uses the
phrase "Av Melachah" to refer to any Melachah d'Oraisa of Shabbos (as
opposed to an Isur d'Rabanan of Shabbos, or a Melachah of another Halachic
category, such as working one's field during the Shemitah year). Rashi's
source to refer to a *category* of work with regard to Shabbos (whether it
is an Av or a Toldah) as an Av Melachah is the Gemara in Pesachim (5a),
which says that from the fact that Rebbi Akiva said "kindling is an Av
Melachah" we derive that the prohibition of kindling on Shabbos is a
category of Melachah for Shabbos and carries a punishment of Kares, and
not just a Lav and Malkos.
(b) Rashi himself writes just a few lines later that squeezing grapes and
olives is a *Toldah* of threshing. Why, then, does he at first call it an
We see this usage of the phrase "Av Melachah" again in Rashi later (68a, DH
Av Melachah). Rashi there says that the words "Av Melachah in the Mishnah
are not excluding Toldos, but rather, they mean a *category* of Melachah.
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that says that a person is allowed to
open his sluice gate, before Shabbos, to allow water to flow into his
garden or field on Shabbos. Also, mid'Oraisa one may put wheat into a
watermill before Shabbos and have the mill grind the wheat all Shabbos. The
Rabanan, however, forbid letting a mill operate on Shabbos because it makes
too much noise (according to Rabah).
Can we learn from this Gemara whether or not it is permitted to set a
Shabbos clock prior to Shabbos to perform Melachah on Shabbos?
(a) RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN (IGROS MOSHE OC 4:60) forbids doing Melachah
through a pre-set Shabbos timer. He says that although the Gemara permits
certain actions to be done prior to Shabbos when the results of those
actions will occur on Shabbos, that applies only when the process of the
Melachah began prior to Shabbos. With Shabbos clocks, however, the entire
Melachah begins on Shabbos.
Rav Moshe writes two reasons why it should be prohibited to use a Shabbos
timer. (1) One may not tell a non-Jew to do Melachah for him on Shabbos.
The same way, one may not "tell," or program, a mechanical device to do
Melachah for him on Shabbos. (2) Rashi (DH she'Yitchanu) in our Sugya
explains that having a millstone operate on Shabbos is forbidden because
the noise that it makes is a disgrace to Shabbos, and if people were to
have their mills running on Shabbos, they would be transgressing the
Mitzvah of honoring the Shabbos. Similarly, setting a Shabbos timer to do
Melachah on Shabbos is a disgrace to Shabbos and a violation of the Mitzvah
of Kavod Shabbos.
Rav Moshe does, however, permit the use of a Shabbos timer for setting
lights to go on and off. Even though he prefers to forbid the use of a
Shabbos timer altogether, he permits using it for lights, because it was
the accepted common practice in Europe to have a non-Jew extinguish and
re-kindle the lights in the homes of Jews at given hours. We do not have to
be more stringent with regard to a Shabbos timer.
(b) Other authorities differ with Rav Moshe's ruling.
The CHAZON ISH (OC 38:2,3) permits setting a Shabbos clock to perform
Melachah on Shabbos. SHEMIRAS SHABBOS K'HILCHASAH also permits it.
RAV SHLOMO ZALMAN AUERBACH (MINCHAS SHLOMO #11) even permits changing -- on
Shabbos -- the time that a Shabbos timer is set to perform a Melachah by
*turning the dial* in such a way that one *delays* the action that the
Shabbos clock would have caused, because doing so is not considered to be
performing any Melachah.