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 Noachsubscribe


If a lock on a drawer or jewelry box jammed, is one permitted to break it open?

The Shulchan Aruch 1 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 as well. 2

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.

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 3 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 s'tira.

 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. 4

Is it permitted to ask a non-Jew to break the lock or remove the screws?

The Rama 5 says that one is permitted to have a non-Jew break the lock, however the Mishna Berura 6 says that others only permit this when a dire loss is involved or greatly necessary for the sake of a mitzvah.

If I cannot open the string tying a latch, am I permitted to slash the string?

Untying the string is permitted because the string is tied and untied on a regular basis, thereby not being classified as a permanent knot.

Slashing the string is also permitted, being that the rope is not considered a perfect k'li and hence its destroying is not s'tira. The Aruch HaShulchan 7 supplements this idea saying that severing the rope is similar to cracking open a nutshell to extract the nut.

If 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.


[1] Simon 314:7.
[2] Simon 314:7 and M"B 33.
[3] Simon 314:17.
[4] M"B simon 314:37.
[5] Simon 314:7.
[6] M"B Simon 314:37.
[7] Simon 314:15.


Food For Thought

If a child got locked in a room is one permitted to break the door? 

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.

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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.