shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Vayigash

May one use a safety pin on Shabbos?

You might ask yourself, what can be wrong with using a safety pin on Shabbos. After all, Im not sewing or doing any other melacha. To answer, we will present the basic concepts of sewing.

The Rambam (10:9) writes the following: One who sews two stitches is liable to bring a korban chatas, provided that one subsequently tied the thread to prevent the stitch from undoing itself. One who sews more than two stitches is liable to bring a korban even without tying the thread because the stitches are permanent.

What does the above have to do with inserting pins?

When inserting a pin to pin up a hem, one is in effect inserting it at least twice, if not three times, through two pieces of cloth and consequently it should at least be rabbinically prohibited [1] or ossur midoraisso.

The Mishna Berura [2] cites the Korban Netanel [3] who says that since two stitches without tying is at least an issur drabanan, on what basis do people permit themselves to use pins to pin their clothes on Shabbos, and on what halachic basis do the women of Prague pin the scarf to their clothing? We see that he understood that a pin shares the same status as thread-sewing and therefore it should be prohibited.

The Chazon Ish [4] first points out that the Korban Netanel never prohibited it, as he himself attested that the custom was to permit it; rather he was questioning an accepted custom. The Chazon Ish continues that one cannot compare inserting pins to sewing because a pin is by nature a temporary stitch and was never prohibited by Chazal.

But are two stitches not temporary also (when not subsequently tied) and nevertheless it is ossur midrabanan to sew two stitches?

The Chazon Ish answers this saying that although two stitches are temporary, nevertheless it is part of the normal manner of sewing and therefore even two regular stitches are ossur midrabanan, but a pin is not a part of the regular mode of sewing and since it is by nature a temporary bond it is permitted.

Does a safety pin share the same status as a regular pin?

A safety pin is either used as a temporary stitch until a proper stitch is sewed, or it is used to pin a badge to a blazer or to secure a bandage or cloth diaper. [5] In all these instances the safety pin is merely a temporary bond and therefore it is not prohibited.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl writes [6]  that one who wishes to be stringent should apply the stringency in a case where the safety pin or pin could be left permanently in the clothing (pinning a hem or a tear in ones clothing), but when pinning something in a temporary way such as where it has to be freed, such as the safety pin in the diaper, there is no room for stringency at all.

Other poskim [7] grant the Korban Netanel more authority and say that one should only be lenient when fixing temporarily with a safety pin (or pin) but when fixing on a more permanent basis one should not insert the pin in each piece of cloth more than once. [8]

May one staple papers together or remove the staples that are fastening two papers together?

Even if we say that a safety pin is not the regular sewing mode, we cannot say this with regards to paper, as it is normal to bind papers together by stapling. [9] Therefore one may not staple or remove staples. Rav Shlomo Zalman writes that one may not staple pages together even for less than the entire Shabbos because it is an 'Ovdah D'Chol'  to use a stapler.

May one open an envelope that is stapled shut?

Rav Shlomo Zalman says it is muter to remove the staple in this case because it is only stapled temporarily until opened by the addressee. [10]

[1] The issur drabanan is based on the MB 340:27.

[2] Ibid.

[3] 7th perek of Shabbos (50).

[4] The letter written by the Chazon Ish can be found at the back of the sefer Chazon Ish under the heading ", on page 510.

[5] Once upon a time

[6] " " ' ".

[7] Rav Vozner in Shevet Halevy vol. IV simon 35 and others.

[8] It is customary to use a safety pin, at least for temporary binding, and for a final ruling one must ask ones rav.

[9] SSK 28:5 and footnote 17.

[10] Rav Shlomo Zalman in the SSK 9:9 and footnotes 34-35.

Food For Thought

May one inflate a rubber duck on Shabbos?

What about inflating balloons and air beds?

May one tear a piece of glad-wrap from the roll on Shabbos?

What about tearing toilet paper when there is no option?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The Shaagas Aryeh was appointed as the rav of Metz at the ripe old age of 70, and soon after his arrival he overheard some people saying that the new rav has arrived to live in the local cemetery. During the first drosho in shul on Shabbos he asked, why did Pharoah enquire as to Yaakovs age and what was Yaakov telling him when he replied that his days were short and bitter?

The Shaagas Aryeh explained that ever since Yaakovs arrival in Egypt, the famine had ceased and Pharoah was nervous upon seeing such an old Yaakov that the blessing will not last very long. Yaakov assured him that he was still young, as Yitzchak died at the age of 180 and therefore he had a long way to go.

The Shaagas Aryeh concluded his vort saying that he too was in the same position and they should not fear, he will remain a rav for 20 years, which indeed happened.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.