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 Noach

May one make a picnic lunch in one’s garden on Shabbos?

Several problems exist when making a picnic and one must be aware of them.

Firstly, one may not wash one’s hands over the grass because watering grass on Shabbos is an issur d’oraisso of Zore’ah. One may argue and say “I am not watering the grass, I am merely washing my hands and by the way the grass is being watered”. It is a semi-valid argument, and we will explain.

We have often mentioned the concept of p’sik reisha, which refers to a melacha being done by-the-way. The halacha is that a p’sik reisha d’nicha lei, i.e. one is content and happy with the outcome of the melacha done by-the-way, is also a melacha d’oraisso and transgressing it on Shabbos is akin to doing a direct melacha.

Accordingly therefore, washing one’s hands over one’s own grass, although it is only a p’sik reisha and not a direct melacha, since one is pleased that one’s own grass is watered it is an issur d’oraisso.

Would it make a difference if it was not in my own lawn?

It surely would make a difference because you are indifferent as to the outcome of the washing. This kind of action is classified as p’sik reisha d’lo nicha lei or lo ichpas lei, which means a p’sik reisha that one does not want the outcome or one is indifferent to the outcome. The halacha in this case is a machlokes as to whether it is prohibited or not. The Mishna Berura [1] says that many poskim are of the opinion that it is prohibited.

This case would only hold true in a stranger’s garden or in a forest, but in your close friend’s garden, since you have his interests at heart, watering his garden would please you as well and it would be called nicha lei. [2]

It is unclear whether washing hands in a public park is called nicha lei, where on the one hand you are not responsible for watering the grass but on the other hand you are extremely pleased when the grass in your local park grows nicely. (It is anyway prohibited on account of lo nicha lei).

There are the obvious problems of carrying when there is no eiruv when making a picnic out of one’s own garden.

Are there any other problems making a picnic?

The Rama says [3] that it is nearly impossible not to spill liquid when eating and therefore it is correct to be stringent and not have a picnic in one’s garden on Shabbos. If one takes care though to wash hands and drink indoors it is no problem. [4]

Is it permitted to transfer a vase of flowers from the table to the sideboard?

It is accepted that flowers in a vase are not muktze on Shabbos and Yom Tov and thus the vase they are in is not muktze either. [5] Accordingly one may transfer the vase from one’s table and put it on the sideboard.

If the flowers fell out of the vase on Shabbos may one return them?

One may not return flowers to water on Shabbos even if they fell out on Shabbos. [6] On the other hand, one may return branches without flowers to water on Shabbos. [7] The difference is that flowers bloom in water and returning them causes the flowers to bloom, which is similar to planting. It is unclear what the halacha is when the flowers are already blooming and are open, åö"ò, SS”K 26 footnote 91.

May one add water to the flower vase on Shabbos?

Chazal did not permit us to add water to a vase on Shabbos and were even more stringent with regards to changing the water. Both these actions are prohibited on Shabbos on account of exerting oneself unnecessarily on Shabbos. Therefore, if the vase is nearly empty or it has a dirty color one may not add water or change it. [8] One may add water to a vase on Yom Tov. [9]

A guest arrives on Shabbos (there is an eiruv) or on Yom Tov with a bunch of flowers, may you put them in water?

As mentioned, flowers may never be placed in water on Shabbos or Yom Tov due to their blooming. If however the guests arrive with fragrant branches and the like which do not have flowers, the halacha is that one may not put them in water on Shabbos and Yom Tov. One may instruct a gentile to put them in a vase that has water prepared before Shabbos. [10]


Return flowers

Return branches

Put flowers or branches

Add water

Change water







Yom Tov






[1] M”B Simon 336:27.

[2] M”B ibid.

[3] Simon 336:3.

[4] The Rama says that it is correct… when water is drunk as part of the meal.

[5] SS”K 26:25.

[6] Rama and M”B simon 336:54.

[7] M”B ibid.

[8] M”B ibid. it is based on the Shulchan Aruch in simon 654, Hilchos lulav.

[9] SS”K 26:26, based on simon 654.

[10] This is because some poskim hold that even a Jew may put branches in a vase that has water in it before Shabbos (see Sha’ar Ha’tsiun 48). Although we do not rely on that opinion for ourselves but to instruct a gentile we may rely on it.

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk says "vayachal Noach ish haadama vayita kerem", which literally means that Noach first planted a vineyard, but Rashi says that it means mundane as opposed to holiness. R’ Itzaleh of Volozin explained this with a parable. A father said to his son before going out into the world, I bless you that the first thing you turn to will have tremendous success. If the son is yareh shamayim, he has fear of heaven, he will turn to something spiritual such as learning Torah. If he is not he will turn to mundane matters.

Hashem had just blessed Noach, as it says vayevarech Elokim es Noach, and he ‘wasted’ it on a mundane matter, the vineyard.


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.