shabbos candles

Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

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 Bamidbar


May one smell a myrtle branch (hadas) that is attached to the ground on Shabbos?

            One may smell a rose or a hadas on Shabbos even though the stalk or shoot is attached or planted in the ground. [1] A bracha must be made when smelling such plants, see your siddur for the correct bracha.

The same applies to hadasim or roses placed in a vase on the table.

            What about smelling a red, rosy apple attached to the tree?

            Chazal differentiated between smelling edible fruit and fragrant plants. Plainly there ought not to be a difference between the two. However, Chazal were concerned that were one permitted to smell an edible fruit on Shabbos one might easily pick the fruit to eat it and transgress an issur doraisso of picking on Shabbos. Although there is also room for concern that one might pick a fragrant plant when smelling it on Shabbos, but since one can benefit from the plant when it is attached and smell it without picking it, Chazal were not concerned that one would pick it on Shabbos.

One may smell a detached apple or etrog on Shabbos; only one should make the bracha .

            What about smelling the hadasim on Sukkos that are used for the mitzvah of netilas lulav?

            Weve missed the boat this year, but the halacha is that on Sukkos one may not smell the hadasim that are being used with the lulav. [2] The reason is because hadasim are usually designated as fragrant and when used for the mitzvah of lulav one designates it for the mitzvah and disassociates it from its regular use. [3]

The Etrog, on the other hand, is not usually designated as fragrant, being that it is an edible fruit. As such one disassociates it from its regular use, i.e. eating and designates it for the mitzvah, but it is not removed from smelling because it is not intended for smelling. However, the Shulchan Aruch says that one should not smell an Etrog on Sukkos because there is a dispute as to the correct bracha made when smelling it on Sukkos. [4]

            Is one permitted to make the bracha over the blossoming of the trees on Shabbos?

            It is customary around the month of Nissan to praise Hashem with the recital of the bracha of tree blossoming. The Kaf haChaim [5] writes that one should refrain from the recital of this bracha on Shabbos lest one handles a tree or lest one picks from the tree. The question is that we learned that when one merely wishes to smell a branch etc. Chazal were not concerned that one will pick the branch. The same logic should apply here as well. Here too one does not smell a fruit and it should be permitted to recite this bracha. For a valid psak one should refer to a rav.

            May one make a picnic lunch in ones garden on Shabbos?

            Several problems exist when making a picnic and one must be aware of them.

Firstly, one may not wash ones hands over the grass because watering grass on Shabbos is an issur doraisso of Zoreah. One may argue and say I am not watering the grass, I am merely washing my hands and by the way the grass is being watered. It is a semi-valid argument, and we will explain.

We have often mentioned the concept of psik reisha, which refers to a melacha being done by-the-way. The halacha is that a psik reisha dnicha lei, i.e. one is content and happy with the outcome of the melacha done by-the-way, is also a melacha doraisso and transgressing it on Shabbos is akin to doing a direct melacha.

Accordingly therefore, washing ones hands over ones own grass, although it is only a psik reisha and not a direct melacha, since one is pleased that ones own grass is watered it is an issur doraisso.

            Would it make a difference if it was not in my own lawn?

            It surely would make a difference because you are indifferent as to the outcome of the washing. This kind of action is classified as psik reisha dlo nicha lei or lo ichpas lei, which means a psik reisha that one does not want the outcome or one is indifferent to the outcome. The halacha in this case is a machlokes as to whether it is prohibited or not. The Mishna Berura [6] says that many poskim are of the opinion that it is prohibited.

This case would only hold true in a strangers garden or in a forest, but in your close friends garden, since you have his interests at heart, watering his garden would please you as well and it would be called nicha lei. [7]

It is unclear whether washing hands in a public park is called nicha lei, where on the one hand you are not responsible for watering the grass but on the other hand you are extremely pleased when the grass in your local park grows nicely. (It is anyway prohibited on account of lo nicha lei).

There are the obvious problems of carrying when there is no eiruv when making a picnic out of ones own garden.

            Are there any other problems making a picnic?

            The Rama says [8] that it is nearly impossible not to spill liquid when eating and therefore it is correct to be stringent and not have a picnic in ones garden on Shabbos. If one takes care though to wash hands and drink indoors it is no problem. [9]

Is it permitted to transfer a vase of flowers from the table to the sideboard?

            It is accepted that flowers in a vase are not muktze on Shabbos and Yom Tov and thus the vase they are in is not muktze either. [10] Accordingly one may transfer the vase from ones table and put it on the sideboard.

[1] As for handling the flower or plant, see the MB 336:48 and the SSK 26:22.

[2] Simon 653.

[3] MB simon 653:1.

[4] See the MB 653:3 who brings one opinion who holds that one must only refrain from smelling the etrog while fulfilling the mitzvah and another opinion who holds that one should refrain from smelling the etrog for  the entire Sukkos.

[5] Kaf haChaim Simon 226:4.

[6] MB Simon 336:27.

[7] MB ibid.

[8] Simon 336:3.

[9] The Rama says that it is correct when water is drunk as part of the meal.

[10] SSK 26:25.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh

" ' '" Have conviction when you recite with all your heart to surrender your life and possessions for His holiness.

            How is it possible for flesh and blood to surrender ones life for something intangible? Was it possible that in olden time, when people often lived in dire poverty and life was not much that it was easier to be moser nefesh?

            The answer is that it depends on how one sees this world. It is an attitude. If one knows that one has a purpose to fulfill and use whatever there is in this world to further that cause, one is not so attached and dependent, but if this world is an end and not merely a means, it is very hard to surrender everything for something of lesser importance. We must try to focus on our raison dêtre and love Torah and Hashem more than olam hazeh.

For a printed version, click here.



One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-3-616-6340
 South Africa
078 1655 242 England 44-020-8731-6666 Australia 61-296835626 Switzerland 01141430288
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

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.