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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 Mattos


         I once saw a gentile, in a certain hotel, take boiling water that was in a pot on the gas and pour it into a hot water urn. Is this permitted lchatchila, and if not, may the water be used?

            I do not think that it should be permitted because the gentile is in fact returning food or liquid to an uncovered fire and is prohibited because it looks like cooking, as the hot water urn is not called garuf vkatum, and anything a Jew may not do, a gentile is also prohibited from doing.

            I think though that the water may be consumed because the water was fully cooked, and when a gentile does chazora (returning food or liquid to the fire) against the halacha, if it was fully cooked the Jew may benefit from it. [1] Many hotels with mehadrin supervisions have the urns padlocked in order to avoid this scenario.

            Is there a limit as to what one may speak about on Shabbos?

            We will deal with this question on two levels - the first pertains to ones spiritual conduct and the second is a halachic perspective.

            In 58:13 we find the following possuk:

- , ; , ' , ,

            This entire possuk is utilized to teach how one is to conduct oneself on Shabbos. We learn the issue of oneg Shabbos enjoying the Shabbos, honoring the Shabbos and more.

            We also learn that ones speech on Shabbos must not be the same as weekday speech. One must not only refrain from violating the Shabbos by not performing the melachos and the many rabbinical prohibitions, but one must transform oneself and be a different person on Shabbos. Thus ones dress, actions and speech should be  different from that of during the week.

Of course the level to which this is taken varies from person to person as it depends on ones spiritual purification and perfection.

Let us begin at the top

            The Mishna Berura writes [2] that one who refrains from speaking about weekday matters on Shabbos will be called holy. He continues saying that people of deeds would only speak in Lashon HaKodesh on Shabbos, even when essential matters are involved, in order not to be drawn into idle chatter.

            Is that type of conduct not meant for very pious people?

            To conduct oneself in such a manner for an entire Shabbos is indeed above most of our spiritual levels. Nevertheless it does not mean that we are exempt from knowing where we should be heading and what we must strive for. For example, the Mishna Berura [3] cites the Sheloh HaKadosh [4] who says that one who greets a fellowman on Shabbos should not greet him in the weekday fashion - good morning etc. rather one should say gut Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the Shabbos.

            We all conduct ourselves in this manner (although we may not have been aware of the reason for it) because we know Shabbos is different. (For this reason some have the custom not to say good night, before going to sleep on Shabbos, because it is Shabbos and one should say gut Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom). [5]

            Are there any restrictions as to which thoughts are permitted on Shabbos and which are not?

            From a purely halachic view point we learn from the possuk that states that certain speech is forbidden on Shabbos, not thoughts, and one may think about ones business on Shabbos. However, the Shulchan Aruch [6] writes that one should not think about business matters at all because of oneg Shabbos, especially if it causes worry and anxiety.

            The Mechaber continues that one should feel on Shabbos as if one has concluded all of ones business transactions and the MB says this is learned from one should conclude all of ones work in 6 days, and that comes about because it should be that when Shabbos begins - , it should be as if ones business is concluded. When Shabbos begins there is no need for more work. This indeed is a high plane for one who is in the middle of a complicated business issue, but it is expected of us.

            What if my business is BH very successful. May I not think about it?

            Thinking about and being excited about $1,000,000 in the bank is not a crime, but it will most probably lead to problems. One will start thinking whether it is invested wisely, is it earning enough etc. The same with a successful business. There are many complicated matters involved and one will begin to think about them on Shabbos. The optimal conduct on Shabbos therefore, is to totally disconnect ones mind from such matters and focus on more spiritual matters.

            Am I permitted to walk through my vegetable patch on Shabbos?

            The Shulchan Aruch [7] says that one may not stand next to ones field during the reaping or the plowing season and see what the field requires. [8] The same would apply to walking through a vegetable patch and deciding what needs to be picked, which vegetables require watering etc.

            Did we not learn that one may think [9] about ones matters and here, after all, one is merely thinking and not doing anything?

            Indeed thinking and contemplating per se is permitted but in the above cases one is actually walking in the vegetable patch or standing next to ones field during the plowing season and as such ones thoughts are noticeable. One cannot say that it is merely thinking because ones thoughts are accompanied with the action of being in the wrong place. [10]

[1] Rama in siman 253:1 and the Biur Halacha " " " -" ".

[2] MB siman 307:5.

[3] MB siman 307:5.

[4] HaRav Yeshaya Horowitz - Born: Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1565. He studied in Prague and served as Rav in Poland, Lithuania, and Germany. He returned to Prague as Rosh Yeshiva in 1615 and was appointed Rav of Jerusalem in 1622. Author of Shnei Luchot HaBrit/Sheloh, a classical work on Halacha, customs, and Kabbalah, written around the 613 Commandments as they appear in each parsha. The author gives kabbalistic interpretations of the laws as well as its ethical implications. (Adapted from the biography written by R Shlomo Pereira).

[5] I once saw another reason for this. On Shabbos it does not say , and therefore there is no room for saying good night.

[6] Siman 306:8.

[7] Siman 306:1.

[8] See MB 306:1.

[9] We also learned that it is preferable not to, but strict halacha does not forbid it unless it causes concern.

[10] MB ibid.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh 

, - what is the purpose of Tefillah?

            Perhaps we can say that the purpose of tefillah is to connect. For example, the Rambam writes that Shemone Esre has three parts, praise, requests and thanks. We might think that the middle sections, requests, is the main purpose because we need to connect to Hashem and realize that everything comes from Him and we must ask Him for everything. That statement is true, but not complete, because one can connect just as much through praise by knowing and recognizing that everything comes from Him, and that is expressed when praising Him.

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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.