By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
May one go out holding an umbrella if it rains on Shabbos? What if the umbrella was opened before Shabbos?
The Shailos Uteshuvos Noda B’Yehuda, Orach Chaim, siman lamed writes that one may not open an umbrella on Shabbos. The reason for this is that it would be considered making a temporary ohel on Shabbos. He does add that if the umbrella was opened before Shabbos, then it would be allowed to be used as one is not making an ohel. There is a svara to say that once one is carrying the umbrella over one’s head to protect himself from the rain, that action in and of itself would be considered making an ohel. In any case, it would definitely be a problem because of maaris ayin; people seeing you carry an umbrella may suspect that you opened the umbrella on Shabbos.
The Noda B’Yehuda finishes the teshuva by saying that when the umbrella was introduced to his city, many people started using it on Shabbos. The Noda B’Yehuda therefore came out very strongly against it and said that people may be oveir the issur of s’kila by using the umbrella. Subsequently, the Yidden in his town stopped using an umbrella on Shabbos.
The Shailos Uteshuvos Chasam Sofer in Chelek Alef, Orach Chaim, Siman Ayin Bais argues and says that there is definitely no issur DeOraysa to use an umbrella. He brings down two reasons to support his opinion. Firstly, we don’t find that there was an Ohel that was carried around regarding the Mishkon and Bais HaMikdosh. Secondly, since it is only a temporary binyan, it might even be muttar M’deRabbanon.
The Mishna Berurah brings down that one should not use an umbrella on Shabbos for two reasons. The first reason is that we may pasken like the Noda B’Yehuda based on the Rif that using an umbrella might be an Issur D’Oraysa. The second reason is that the person may come to be oveir on the issur of carrying out from reshus hayachid to reshus harabim and vice versa.
Since this issue is not cut and dry, a company did a shayna thing by making a “Shayna rain coat” in order to avoid needing an umbrella. So best of luck staying dry!