web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



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
Does this look like a pro-Israel group?
Minnesota Univ. Student Official Compares Group Backing Israel with KKK
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Sacks

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

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

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

Vayeitzei_lecture

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

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.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

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.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

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?

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?

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: