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 Vayeitzei


Is there an issue of Tzeida (trapping) with regard to fish? 

As mentioned in the previous sheet, trapping an animal on Shabbos is prohibited. It was also mentioned that hunted species are biblically prohibited to trap and non-hunted species are rabbinically prohibited.

Fish fall into the first category and are biblically prohibited to trap, this is because they are hunted for food or as ‘pets’ for household fish tanks. 

Does this apply to fish in a fish tank as well? 

Notwithstanding the muktze issue, it depends on the size of the tank. A fish in the sea or a lake is subject to the fundamental prohibition because in its present state it is totally free. A fish in a small fish tank would not be subject at all to the prohibition of trapping being that it is already trapped. This of course is relative to the size of the fish and the size of the tank.

A small fish in a large tank might be categorized as totally free or semi free it depending on the tank size. If it is semi free it would involve an issur d’rabanan

If a big fish is about to devour the smaller fish, is one permitted to remove the small fish from the tank? 

The answer to this question is comprised of two separate issues. The first being Tzeida – trapping. If it is difficult to fish out the fish it is a sign that they are not totally in one’s control and the prohibition of trapping is applicable. If easy to fish then it is probably called trapped and this issur would not apply.

The second issue is muktze. All animals are considered muktze and therefore removing the fish would not be possible because of muktze. One could argue that maybe when Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim is involved it should be permitted. The answer is that true, muktze might be waived when Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim is involved as we will soon see, however HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l [1] learns that natural phenomena are not classified as Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim.

Accordingly there is no Mitzvah of Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim to save a mouse from a cat. Therefore one would not be permitted to incorporate the mitzvah of Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim to save the small fish.

A Rav should be consulted whether it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to transfer the fish. 

If a fish dived out of the tank, is one permitted to return it on account of Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim? 

In other words, is one permitted to handle muktze for the sake of Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim? The answer is that we find conflicting opinions in the matter.

The Magen Avraham [2] learns (based on the Rambam) that muktze is not waived in place of Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim and in this case it would be forbidden to lift the fish back into the water. The Elya Raba [3] disagrees with the M”A and based on other Rishonim learns that one may handle muktze when Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim is involved. He explains the Rambam saying that the Rambam only prohibited handling muktze when other options are available.

The Chazon Ish [4] also permits handling muktze to prevent Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim but the Shulchan Aruch HaRav [5] only permitted it when a great loss might incur.

The Mishna Berura [6] brought down both opinions and concluded that one may definitely make use of a non-Jew in such a case.

Therefore, if your fish dives out of the tank make sure that you have a non-Jew on hand. 

If a bee (the honey maker) is disturbing me in my succah am I permitted to trap it? 

The Shulchan Aruch [7] teaches us that one is permitted to kill non-poisonous snakes and scorpions in order to save oneself from their painful bite and sting. However, says the Mishna Berura, [8] this is only true of species whose nature it is to cause harm and whose bite is painful, but insects – whose bites are not so painful – may not be killed (or trapped) and one should chase them away.

Although a bee sting is more painful than a flea or mosquito bite, yet it does not automatically sting people. On the other hand there are people who are allergic to bee stings and being stung by a bee poses a life-threatening situation.

Therefore, in normal circumstances one should remain calm and not start up with the bee and avoid trapping it. Rav Eliyahu Falk shlita presents a solution by the way of putting some honey in a teaspoon and alluring the bee out of the succah.

[1] SS”K 27:58 footnote 179.
[2] Simon 305:11.
[3] Simon 305:18.
[4] Simon 52:16.
[5] Simon 305:26.
[6] Simon 305:70.
[7] Simon 316:10.
[8] Simon 316:46.

Food For Thought

If one sees a rattlesnake on Shabbos what should he do? 

What about a snake or scorpion whose bite cause pain and distress but is not deadly, is one permitted to trap or kill them? 

If one’s dog rebelled and will not return home, is one permitted to trap it on Shabbos and bring it home?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

Vayeitzeh Ya’akov from Be’er Sheva, Rashi explains that with Ya’akov departure all the beauty and glamour of the city disappeared as well. Rav Sternbuch shlita beautifully points out that even though Ya’akov Avinu did not walk the streets giving lectures nor was he a person who intermingled with the public at large, rather he was a born and bread yeshiva bochur, as it says Yoshev Ohalim – he would dwell in the tents of Torah.

Nevertheless he was the shine and sparkle of the town!

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.