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 Lech Lecha

May one remove an avocado pit from water on Shabbos?

It is common to place an avocado pit into a jar filled with water and watch it grow. It is forbidden to remove the avocado pit from the water for the following reasons: if the pit has already sprung roots, the pit is considered as planted in the water and removing it would involve the melacha of reaping; if roots have not as yet sprung forth, because it was placed in the water in order to grow, it is considered planted and may not be removed from the water.

What difference does it make whether there was intention to plant it or not, isnt it enough that it is in water to prohibit its removal?

We find in the Shulchan Aruch [1] a case where people were accustomed to deposit fragrant leaves in soil a day before shabbos in order to keep them fresh, with the intention of removing them on Shabbos.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that they may be removed if 1) they have not yet sprung roots and 2) if there was no intention to plant them. The Mishna Berura [2] explains that when one intends to plant them and then decides to remove them from the soil, one might not realize that they have already sprung roots. Therefore Chazal prohibited the removal of leaves, grains etc. from soil (or water) when there was an intention to plant them, even though they have not yet sprung roots.

May one move a pot-plant from one location to another?

Several factors will determine the halacha and its severity, ranging from muktze to uprooting.
Plants planted in a holed potholder are equivalent to being planted directly in the ground. Removing them from where they are situated, in many cases, is considered uprooting - a melacha doraisso. The Bais Yosef says that if one raises such a plant and places it on a non-permeable item such as glass or wood, one has violated an issur doraisso. [3] This will depend of course on where the pot-plant is located. If it is in the garden or over soil it is definitely considered attached to the ground.

The Shulchan Aruch tell us that one should not even raise a pot-plant that does not have absorption holes but the potholder is made from clay or wood. [4]

What if the pot-plant is in an apartment on the tiles or stone floor?

The Chazon Ish held that plants are capable of absorbing nutrients through a stone floor from the soil beneath the stone and therefore it is an issur to raise such a pot and place it on a table etc.

The general rule is that pot plants are treated as being muktze as a result of the various prohibitions involved and therefore one may not move pot-plants on Shabbos from one location to another. [5]

To conclude this issue - all pot plants are muktze and may not be moved around on Shabbos.

The kitchen sink is blocked! Is one permitted to use a plunger to unblock it?

There are two ways to view this problem. One way is to say that an entirely blocked drain or sink is considered broken and therefore unblocking it will be repairing, which is forbidden on Shabbos. Another way is to say that it is not considered broken as the pipes are merely blocked and unblocking the drain is not called repairing the pipes.

Harav Moshe Feinstein ztzl [6] is of the opinion that a (totally) blocked pipe is comparable to not having a pipe at all and unblocking it is like making a new opening. It is therefore ossur to unblock. One may however instruct a gentile to unblock it when very necessary.

Several other poskim share the same view as Rav Moshe.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl [7] is of the opinion that we cannot say that the pipe is non-existent, and therefore unblocking a blocked pipe is not considered as repairing anything.

Being that it is a machlokes, one must ask for rabbinical guidance in such an event.

[1] Simon 336:6.

[2] Simon 336:40.

[3] MB Simon 336:44.

[4] Whether he is referring only to wooden and clay pots or he includes all materials such as plastic, metal etc, will depend on the source of the Shulchan Aruch. If he means it as a general gzeira it will include all pots, if it is because there is a machlokes as to whether one of these materials is permeable (which is based on a machlokes Rishonim) then his gzeira would only encompass these two materials, wood and clay. See Biur Halacha " .

[5] SSK 26:2.

[6] " " ' ' '.

[7] A letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach quoted in the " ' ". It can be found in the Binyan Shabbos page 303.


Food For Thought

May I pluck a hair that is bothering me from my head on Shabbos?

Does it make a difference whether it is a white hair from black and that I am a male?

What about picking at fingernails on Shabbos?

Is there a problem to remove feather remnants from a chicken in my plate?

Vort on the Parsha

The possuk tells us that Avraham Avinu tells his wife that he has discovered that she is beautiful and in order to save his life she must say that she is his brother. Many have discussed this statement of Avraham Avinu which implies that until that very minute he did not know that she was beautiful.

We can say that until that day Avraham Avinu looked at his wife through eyes of holiness and purity. He saw in her the epitome of kedusha, as it says that Sarah was even greater than him in prophecy. Sure he knew her. But now that he was approaching the land of Mitzrayim whose people were awash with covetousness, he must look at her through different eyes in order to see whether there would be a problem in Mitzrayim. Therefore it is only now that he realized that she has other attributes, which until now were of no consequence to him. It is indeed all in the eyes of the beholder.


For a printed version, click here.


One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-3-616-6340
 South Africa 2711-728-4275 England 44161-792-2492 Australia 61-296835626 Switzerland 01141430288
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

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.