web analytics
December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



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
Soldiers check Palestinian Authority Arabs for knives,explosives, guns, screwdrivers and anything else that can be used to murder.
Palestinian Authority Terrorist Tries to Kill Soldier at Checkpoint
Latest Judaism Stories
Knesset and Menorah

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

What if, at the moment of the late brother’s death, the surviving brother cannot effect yibum because the widow is a niddah?

The Torah lists twenty-one close relatives a man may not marry.

In the same way as a married woman is precluded from marrying another man without a get, so too is this widow prohibited from marrying another man without chalitzah.

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?

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: