Can You Unstuff a Toilet On Shabbos With a Plunger?


toilet1The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 336:9) says that if a drainage gutter from a roof is stuffed with grass and straw, you may clear it in Shabbos with you feet if no one is looking because you are fixing it with a shinui and the Chachomim did not assur since this can cause a great loss. The Mishnah Berurah says that you may only clear aside the blockage so that it doesn’t interfere with the water flow but you may not totally remove the blockage.

What about a stuffed toilet? ay you use a plunger to clear the blockage? 

The Minchas Yitzchok (5:75) and others pasken that a plunger would be permissible to use since it is very easy to clear a blockage with a small push. This is certainly in the case of a toilet where there is an issue of kavod habriyos.  Nevertheless, says the Minchas Yitzchok, it is preferable if you can get a goy or if you do it with your weaker hand.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe 4:73) says that you may only unclog it with a plunger if it is partially stuffed and water can still flow through. It is thwen permissible to use the plunger if it can be cleared with one or two pushes. However, if it totally stuffed, it is considered maaseh uman, expert work, and is considered uvdin dechol. If there is a great need for kavod habriyos to unstuff it, says Rav Moshe, then you can be meikil and have a goy unstuff it.

As always, we post this simply to be me’orer and you should consult your rov for a psak to follow.

{ with Dovid Newscenter}