web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Melachah: Creative And Destructive Acts

Using one’s creative powers seven days a week may lead one to believe in oneself as a Creator. This danger is averted in Judaism by the institution of Shabbat, during which one refrains from melachot. Melachot are defined by my father, Dayan Grunfeld, zt”l, in his book on the Sabbath, as acts that demonstrate one’s mastery of the world by means of the constructive exercise of one’s intelligence and skill. For just one day a week, we are asked to lay aside our skills and acknowledge the real Creator.

Essential, then, to the definition of melachah is the concept of a constructive act. Any act of pure destruction, however strenuous, is not a melachah. Thus, if one were to knock down a house simply to destroy it, one would not be performing a melachah in the Torah sense of the term (melachah de’oreita), though the act would be prohibited under rabbinical protective legislation (melachah de’rabbanan). If, however, one would perform the same act with the objective of building a new house in its place, one would have performed a melachah.

The classification of an act as a melachah de’rabbanan rather than de’oreita has many practical consequences. Generally, whenever there is a compelling reason, the Sages are more flexible in permitting a melachah de’rabbanan. Thus, for example, opening a can of food, a milk carton, or tearing open a tea bag when such containers are to be immediately discarded are not constructive acts and the rabbis permit it because they enhance the enjoyment of Shabbat.

If, however, when opening a can one intends to use it afterward as a container, the act becomes constructive and is thereby transformed into a melachah de’oreita which the rabbis have no leeway to permit. It is recommended that such containers be opened in such a way as to make it overtly clear that they cannot be used again. Some halachic authorities require one to open before Shabbat containers of food that will not spoil on Shabbat.

The definition of a constructive act includes not only physical but may also include spiritual ones as well. For example, tearing one’s clothes on Shabbat simply to destroy them would not be a melachah de’oreita. However, tearing them on Shabbat in a situation where the Torah would command one to do so were it a weekday, is a melachah de’oreita. Accordingly, when confronted with the tragic news of the death of a close relative on Shabbat, one may not tear one’s garment.

Because the opening of a letter on Shabbat involves the destructive act of tearing up and discarding the envelope, there is discussion among the Acharonim as to whether this is or is not permitted.

Why, it is argued, should this be different from the permitted act of opening a can of food on Shabbat? Indeed, the Pachad Yizchak permits the opening of a sealed envelope on Shabbat. The Chofetz Chaim, however, prohibits it other than in extenuating circumstances, in which cases he does permit a Jew to ask a non-Jew to do it for him on Shabbat. Reb Moshe Feinstein explains that whereas the opening of food cans is required for Shabbat itself, the opening of letters is not, and therefore remains prohibited as a melachah de’rabbanan.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Melachah: Creative And Destructive Acts”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Chaye Zisel Braun
Funeral for Chaye Zisel Braun Underway [photos]
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race

Rabbi Sacks

The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit

Bible1

Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

We are told that after returning home from Ne’ilah and breaking our fast, the first activity we should engage in is building a sukkah.

In addition to Yom Kippur, there is at least one other instance when a person may fast on Shabbat – the case of a ta’anit chalom, in which a person wishes to fast to prevent an ominous dream from becoming reality.

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/melachah-creative-and-destructive-acts/2012/12/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: