is not intended to be a halachic source and one should not
draw any conclusions from it. It is merely a guide to the
halachic concepts. The seforim deal extensively with
the definitions of g’rama and ma’ase and it is
not possible in a short essay to include everything.
What is the difference between
ma’ase and g’rama?
is a direct action and g’rama is a delayed action,
for example, pouring water onto fire and extinguishing the
fire is a ma’ase, whereas placing plastic bags filled
with water in the path of a fire is g’rama, because
the fire will melt the bags which will cause the
water to extinguish the fire.
Is g’rama permitted?
possuk says ́à ụ́ùå ë́ î́àëä
one may not perform a melacha, and the Gemora
learns that performing – doing is ossur, g’rama
is permitted. Mid’oraisso, g’rama is permitted
but Chazal prohibited g’rama unless in face of
Can you provide examples of ma’ase
It is an issur d’oraisso, on account of
zore’ah (planting), to throw seeds onto wet ground where
they can take root. The Torah prohibited the planting
action even though the seeds will not take root for several
It is a g’rama to throw seeds on dry ground during
winter, not a ma’ase, because seeds cannot grow in
After it rains the seeds can take root but it is not a
direct consequence of one’s action.
It is an issur d’oraisso, on account of
tochein (grinding), to place grain in a grinder during
operation, because the grinder begins grinding immediately.
though the person is not grinding the grain by hand, placing
it into the grinder is equivalent to hand grinding and is an
It is a g’rama to place grain in the grinder when it
is not operating, because eventually when the grinder
operates, it will grind the grain. It is not a ma’ase
because at present there are no consequences to one’s
is in doubt when one places grain into the grinder’s
receptacle above other grain and consequently the new grain
will not be ground immediately. On the one hand it is a
g’rama, because one’s action does not have direct
consequences but on the other hand, the grinder is in
operation and the new grain will definitely be ground.
One may ask that placing oil into a lamp is a d’oraisso,
on account of mav’ir (making fire), even though
there is oil in the lamp. The answer is that new oil either
assists the present oil’s combustion or is immediately drawn
into the wick and burns, i.e. there are direct consequences
to one’s action.
Trapping and capturing is an issur d’oraisso
of tzeida – capturing. This is brought about either
by throwing a net onto an animal or fish, lassoing, or by
closing a cage door etc. One’s action bears direct
consequences on the subject as it is no longer free.
It is only g’rama to set a trap, because setting a
trap does not bear direct consequences on the trapped
creature. Even if a short while after erecting nets or
baiting a line an animal or fish is trapped, it is only
g’rama because the creature was captured as a result of
one’s action, not during one’s action.
Some poskim learn that if a trap is set in a place
where animals etc. are common, it is a d'oraisso even
if the animal enters the trap after being erected.
– one might ask from cooking and baking, or even planting.
We know that it is ossur mid’oraisso to place a pot
of water on a fire even though cooking takes a while and yet
it is bishul, so why is trapping different?
The answer is that indeed one might want to view cooking as
g’rama and yet the Torah considered such an action to
be a ma’ase. In other words, the melacha of
cooking is to place an item near a heat source intending it
to cook or bake. The direct consequence of one’s action is
that the item begins to cook.
Trapping has a more direct action than setting traps and
baiting and therefore the melacha is the direct
action of physically trapping.
Are there examples of indirect
actions that are considered a ma’ase?
cage door on an animal is tzeida even though one did
not do anything physical to the animal.
Drawing water from a hot water urn, where the
remaining water is not fully cooked, is an action of
bishul, because the remaining water will cook quicker.
water from a hot water urn, which in turn permits cold water
to pour into the urn, some say is an action, not g’rama.
What are examples of g’rama?
A Placing a burning candle in sand will cause the
candle to extinguish prematurely. It is only g’rama
because it will only take place later and nothing has
altered the burning candle. On the other hand, removing oil
from a lantern, according to some opinions, is a ma’ase
because the flame diminishes in that instance.