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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Korach

The entire melacha , cont.

In the previous shiur we learned that the Torah prohibits us to perform an entire melacha, not part of a melacha and Chazal, in many cases, prohibited performing part of a melacha.

Is there a difference between part of a melacha and part of an amount?

We differentiate between and . Doing part of a melacha such as lifting an item in a reshus harabim and walking 4 amos and not setting it down is part of a melacha, because the melacha is comprised of the above and setting it down (or standing still). Such an action is ossur midrabanan.

On the other hand, the Rambam writes [1] that one who bakes or cooks food the size of a is chayav, which means one has violated an issur doraisso. Cooking or baking less than that is also an issur doraisso albeit one is exempt from biblical punishment.

Why this distinction?

A (part of a melacha) is not the melacha the Torah refers to whereas performing a melacha with less of the required amount - is the melacha the Torah refers to. [2]

What is the halacha if two people perform a melacha together?

It depends on whether they could have performed it individually or whether it requires a joint effort, as follows:-

v     One person is capable of turning on a light switch and two people turn it on at the same time, i.e. both press the switch. Both are pottur (exempt) from biblical punishment, even when done intentionally. [3]

v     A heavy package is transported from a reshus hayachid to a reshus harabim and neither could have done it individually, both are chayav. [4]

v     A heavy beam is transported through a reshus harabim [5] by Reuven and Shimon. Reuven could have carried it himself but Shimon could not have. Reuven is chayav and Shimon is pottur, because it is as if Reuven carried it himself and Shimon merely gave support , which is negligible. [6]

What is the reasoning behind these distinctions?

The possuk in Vayikra (4:27) says (when he does it) and the gemora Shabbos 92b learns that one person must perform an entire melacha not part of it and when two people perform the melacha, neither is performing the melacha in its entirety.

When two people cannot perform the melacha individually and only a joint effort can accomplish it, both are chayav. The gemora explains that the possuk only excludes the case when either person or both people could have accomplished it individually and not when both people could not have accomplished it.

Is it ossur midrabanan for two people to do a melacha together that they can both do individually?

It is a machlokes haposkim. The common pshat is that it is only ossur midrabanan, as the possuk teaches us , do it individually otherwise it is not ossur. [7] However, many poskim [8] learn that it is ossur midoraisso and the possuk merely exempts the perpetrators from bringing a korban.

The Tosefos Shabbos [9] writes [10] that when one can do a melacha with one hand, such as writing or drawing and one writes with both hands, it is included in this exemption of .

Of what importance is the above when it is always ossur, either midoraisso or midrabanan?

There are several reasons why it is important to know the above.

Firstly, it is part of Torah, whether there is a nafka mina or not.

Secondly, it is important to know whether one is liable to bring a korban as a result of ones action, in the time of the Beis Hamikdash. [11]

Thirdly, and the most critical nowadays, is when dealing with pikuach nefesh, one must know that there are ways to circumvent a direct doraisso by doing a shinui.

For example, a doctor who must operate an apparatus that requires turning on a light. If it can be done by one person and two people turn it on they are minimizing the issur and must do so when speed is not a factor.

An ambulance was parked outside my building one Friday night and being involved with the Hachovesh (hatzolo) service in the neighborhood, I went to see the proceedings. The chovshim needed to operate certain machinery and since time was on their side, one called the other over and both men pressed the button together.

It was indeed a kiddush Hashem to see how even during an emergency they were adhering to the halacha and knew how to apply it.

(When speed matters, they would not hesitate at all to operate it individually, as the halacha requires).

[1] Shabbos 9:1.

[2] The Sfas Emes in the beginning of Shabbos, in the Mishna, learns according to the Rambam that they are the same. See Tikunim Umiluim page 12 footnote 69.

[3] Rambam Shabbos 1:15.

[4] Rambam Shabbos 1:16.

[5] E.g. lifted, carried over 6 amos and set down.

[6] Rambam ibid.

[7] See Tikunim Umiluim page 13 footnote 77.

[8] Meshech Chochma end of parshas Behar, Beer Yitzchak Orach Chaim 14.

[9] Rav Refael Meizlish, not one of the baalei Tosafos.

[10] In the introduction to simon 308 " .

[11] One would record the fact that one is liable to bring a korban when the Beis Hamikdash will be built bimheira byameinu.


Vort on the Parsha

Moshe Rabeinu declared - Neither did I cause a single person harm where can mean even someone superior. The Meshech Chochma says that a humble person will show affection to people lower than him but people of his stature and level or higher will be scorned. Moshe was a true humble person and was not jealous of those who received visions in the camp and prayed that Hashem bestow on them a spirit of . That is what he  meant , I never harmed even someone superior.


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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.