lock on a drawer or jewelry box jammed, is one permitted to break it
The Shulchan Aruch
teaches us that one is forbidden to break a lock, because it falls under
the umbrella of s'tirah b'keilim – the prohibition to break items
and objects. Likewise it would be forbidden to unscrew the screws
securing the hinges in place, as that is considered s'tira b'keilim
Would I be permitted to extract the pin holding the two parts of the
hinge together, as that does not seem to be breaking anything?
Would that be the normal way to open the jewelry box it would be
permitted, since it is not the regular way it is forbidden. The reason
being that a hinge without the connecting pin is considered broken and
therefore its removal would be breaking the hinge.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav
deals directly with this very idea saying, that the pin was wide on one
end and the other end had a hole to allow passage of a small peg which
held the pin in place. He says that since the pin is jammed in place it
forms a complete k'li and its removal would therefore be
Picking the lock with a screwdriver or knife is permitted, as that is
not considered repairing. Just as one open a lock with a key he may pry
it open with a knife.
it permitted to ask a non-Jew to break the lock or remove the screws?
says that one is permitted to have a non-Jew break the lock, however the
says that others only permit this when a dire loss is involved or
greatly necessary for the sake of a mitzvah.
string is permitted because the string is tied and untied on a regular
basis, thereby not being classified as a permanent knot.
string is also permitted, being that the rope is not considered a
perfect k'li and hence its destroying is not s'tira. The
supplements this idea saying that severing the rope is similar to
cracking open a nutshell to extract the nut.
a bathroom door jammed, and the only way out is to break the lock, is
one permitted to do so on Shabbos?
The difference between breaking a lock on
a jewelry box and a lock on a door is that the a door is attached to
the ground and as such its dismantling involves a Biblical melacha
of S'tira according to all opinions.
There are two ways to deal with such a
situation. The first is to dismantle the lock in a professional manner
thereby enabling its replacement (during the week, of course). This
manner involves S'tira mid'orraiso because its dismantling is
done in a constructive manner. The second is to break it to the point
just to enable opening the door. This method would involve a rabbinical
prohibition of mekalkel – destroying the lock.
Where in the second case asking a non-Jew
to break the lock would comply, as was mentioned above, with the
halacha of the jewelry box, asking a non-Jew in the first case
involves telling him to do a biblical prohibition according to everyone,
which is far more severe.
To answer the
question we would say that being locked inside a bathroom, unable to
keep any of the mitzvos of Shabbos such as listening to the Torah
reading, saying b'rochos, missing Shabbos meals and more would
permit having a non-Jew break the lock.
Food For Thought
If a child got locked in a room is one permitted to break the
A door came off its hinges into my hands, am I permitted to
return it? What am I supposed to do with it?
If the mechitza – screen between the men and
the women fell down, is one permitted to stand it up again?
What is the halacha with regards to setting up a screen to block
out the sun?
Answers coming next week.
Vort on the Parsha
Noach was commanded to bring pure animals and
animals that are not pure to the ark (7:2). Chazal tell us
that Hashem is teaching us that one’s tongue should be pure and
clean, because He could have said bring animals that are impure (tameh).
The question is that when the Torah teaches us
which animals may be eaten and which ones not, it uses the term tameh
– impure and does not say not pure.
The answer is that when the Torah wants to stress the impurity of
non-kosher animals and instill revulsion at the thought of eating an
impure animal it, uses the most powerful terms possible so as not to
disguise the prohibition. When the Torah is merely referring to the
impure animal then there is no reason to use “unclean” words and the
Torah says not pure.
.For a printed version, click here.