Hilchos Shabbos: Removing a Splinter, Fixing a Chair and More


splinter1By Rabbi Dovid Ostroff

Is one permitted to use a needle to remove a splinter?

A needle is a classic example of a k’li she’mlachto l’issur (an item used for a prohibited act on Shabbos)¬†and may be used l’tsorech gufo, which in this case is to remove a splinter. 1 The Shulchan Aruch adds an interesting halacha saying, that if the eye of the needle broke, the needle is muktze, even though with regards to removing a splinter it is irrelevant whether the needle has an eye or not. This is because a broken needle is usually discarded, and as such it is not a k’li. 2

The Mishna Berura writes that one should be careful not to extract blood unnecessarily. If the splinter is causing pain, and blood will surely be extracted during the process of removing the splinter, the splinter may nevertheless be removed, because in this case Chazal did not institute a decree in place of distress. 3

A leg of a chair came out. May one sit on the chair?

Initially one might say that there could be nothing wrong with sitting on a chair without a leg. However, Chazal were afraid that if one were to sit on a chair whose leg became detached, being that it is uncomfortable and impractical to maintain a proper balance, one would attempt to forcefully 4 reinsert the leg back into the chair. They therefore instituted a decree called shema yitka – lest it be reinserted forcefully. The chair is duly muktze, as one is now forbidden to sit on it.

The simon we are now learning does not enter into the intricacies of this decree. It only deals with the muktze aspect, and therefore we will focus our concentration on muktze as well.

If the leg of the chair is broken and requires mending before being reinserted into the chair, the chair is not muktze.5 This is because we are not afraid that a person would go so far on Shabbos and mend the leg or fashion a new one.

The same rule applies if the leg of the chair is not present. Since the “leg” cannot be reinserted the chair is not muktze.

If the wheel of a baby carriage came off, does the carriage become muktze?

The above rule applies itself to many items, and one must be aware of it. If a wheel of a baby carriage comes off its axle, the carriage in certain cases will become muktze. If the screw for tightening the wheel is present, or if the wheel is usually rejoined with force, it would be forbidden to restore the wheel to its original place, and the carriage would be muktze. If the screw got lost and no other is available, one would be permitted to place the wheel on its axle, on condition that it slips on and is not placed with force. This is because placing or restoring it with force involves the melacha of either Boneh or Makeh B’patish.

The stick of the broomstick came out, is one permitted to put it back?

The same rule applies to a broomstick. When the stick detaches from the brush, one is sorely tempted to reinsert it back into the brush. Since the stick is screwed in place and screwing is equivalent to joining, 6 it is forbidden to insert it and therefore the broom is muktze. 7 If the broomstick frequently detaches itself, there may be what to rely to reinsert it, and preferably a rav should be consulted.

This halacha may apply to the glass piece or handle of eyeglasses and to other items that are composed of a few pieces. A rav should be consulted at such an eventuality.

[1] Simon 308:11
[2] M”B 308:48.
[3] M”B 328:88 and Sha’ar Ha’tsiun 63. See also SS”K 35:17.
[4] As mentioned further on, joining parts of a k’li with force involves either the melacha of Boneh or Makeh B’patish.
[5] M”B 308:69.
[6] Sha’ar Ha’tsiun 313:32.
[7] Binyan Shabbos chapter 6:1 (page 55).

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