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 Parshas Emor

Melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufah

What does l’gufah mean?

As often stated, the 39 prohibited melachos of Shabbos are taken from the melachos used to construct the Mishkan. An important criterion is that a melacha must be performed in the same manner and with the same intention as it was performed in the Mishkan. Performing a melacha with the same intention as in the Mishkan is called l’gufah – for the purpose of the melacha. When performed for a different purpose, it is eina tzricha l’gufah or not l’gufah.

Can you present such a case?

In the Mishkan, a pit was dug for the sake of the pit - not for the sand. Consequently, if one digs a pit for the sake of the pit, one is liable to bring a korban chatas (when b’shogeig) for violating a biblical prohibition. Conversely, if one digs a pit to obtain sand, one has performed the melacha for a different purpose than intended in the Mishkan and is eina tzricha l’gufah.

Is it a violation of a biblical prohibition?

The gemora cites a machlokes between R’ Yehuda and R’ Shimon, where R’ Yehuda holds that a melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufah is biblically prohibited and R’ Shimon holds that a melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufah is rabbinically prohibited. Consequently, one who digs a pit for the sand, according to R’ Shimon, has violated a d’rabanan not a d’oraisso.

Which opinion is the halacha?

The Shulchan Aruch [1] presents the following scenario:- one finds a burning hot coal in the street on Shabbos and it is possible that someone might not realize it is there and might burn himself. The Shulchan Aruch says that one may extinguish it, whether it is metal or wood, and the Rambam prohibits extinguishing a wooden coal.

This is a case of melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufah, where most Rishonim learn that it is only an issur d’rabanan but the Rambam holds that it is an issur d’oraisso.

The Elya Raba, cited by the Mishna Berura, rules according to the first and major opinion, that it is an issur d’rabanan.

Why is extinguishing a wooden coal a melacha she’eina tzricha l’gufah?

Wood or wicks were extinguished in the Mishkan for one purpose only - they were lit and extinguished soon thereafter, either to make coals or to singe the wick to enable easier igniting at a later time. This unique extinguishing is for the sake of the wick and coal and not for any other purpose. Extinguishing for a different purpose, such as to prevent harm or because the light disturbs, is not for the same purpose done in the Mishkan and is eina tzricha l’gufah.

Is it an issur d’rabanan?

Indeed it is an issur d'rabanan but the poskim do not treat it as a regular d'rabanan; it is more severe. The Mishna Berura writes [2] that a melacha she'eina tzricha l'gufah is more severe than a regular d'rabanan because the same action can involve an issur d'oraisso according to all opinions.

What is the difference between a davar sheino miskavein and eina tzricha l'gufah?

We will b'ezras Hashem learn about davar sheino miskavein in future shiurim, but in brief, a davar sheino miskavein is a deed that arises as a result of another action. One of the most famous examples is dragging a bench in a field and the bench plows a groove in the field - a melacha of plowing – choresh. One needs the bench and unintentionally it plows the field. This is a davar sheino miskavein.

The difference between this and a melacha she'eina tzricha l'gufah is that in the former one does not intend doing the melacha at all, whereas in the latter, one intends doing the actual melacha albeit for a different purpose. [3]

Are there other examples of eina tzricha l'gufah?

In the Mishkan, people donated items towards its construction and (during the week) they brought items from their homes (a reshus hayachid) to the center (a reshus harabim). This action on Shabbos is called hotza'ah – carrying from a reshus hayachid to a reshus harabim. The purpose was to transfer an item and place it in the reshus harabim because one needed the item in the intended place.

Emptying the garbage from one's house (a reshus hayachid) into the garbage can (dustbin) in the street is a melacha she'eina tzricha l'gufah because one removes garbage for the sake of removing it from one's home and not in order to fill the garbage can.

Obviously it is ossur to take out garbage when there is no eiruv (and handling garbage is also an issue on account of muktze) nevertheless we are discussing this to appreciate the difference between the two types of carrying.

A candle is burning in an ill person's room, what can be done?


A          Even when pikuach nefesh is involved, it is far preferable to carry the candle out of the room rather than extinguishing it. Carrying the candle is merely handling muktze as opposed to extinguishing, which is a melacha she'eina tzricha l'gufah. Although carrying muktze is a d'rabanan and extinguishing in this case is also a d'rabanan, nevertheless we observed that eina tzricha l'gufah is not a regular d'rabanan but is treated far stricter. Consequently carrying is a far better solution. [4]

[1] Simon 334:27 and M"B 85.

[2] Simon 278:3.

[3] Kesef Mishne on Rambam 1:7.

[4] See M"B simon 278:1.


Vort on the Parsha

And when you come to land… (23:10). The Meshech Chochmah explains that Hashem did not want His people to lose sight of spirituality when working the land and thus invested mitzvos at every stage.

At the onset of the harvest we are commanded to bring korban ha'omer. During the harvest we are commanded to leave leket for the poor. At the conclusion we are commanded not to totally harvest the field and leave the pe'ah for the poor. This ensures that throughout the harvest our sights are focused heavenwards at all times.

These mitzvos were particularly chosen to instill mercy and charity, which will bring the Jew to complete happiness and the ultimate closeness to Hashem.


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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.