3 July 2009 - 11 Tammuz 5769 - י"א תמוז ה' אלפים תשס"ט
Bo'geh - Building Print E-mail

Building is one of the thirty-nine avos melachos as building was required to assemble to walls of the mishkan. It is defined as the bringing together of individual components to form a whole building or other structure. There are many other activities associated with building that are included in the Torah and Rabbinic prohibitions.

The Torah prohibits building where the final result is permanent. The Sages however expanded the prohibition in order to include results which are meant to be temporary as well.

Similarly, the prohibition covers much more than the ‘building itself’, one may not make improvements on the ground. This would include removing dirt to level the floor and digging for the purposes of improvement (strengthening the foundation).  Rabbinic law prohibits digging even if there is no beneficial result to be achieved.

Building a structure is likewise prohibited whether the structure is affixed to the ground or not.  This would include pitching a tent.

Under this category, landscaping activities are also prohibited, such as erecting a fence or gate or enclosing gardening in a wall of rocks for protection.

Repairing or adding an addition to a building is prohibited. This includes attaching an object to a structure, including a doorknob or bookshelf. Replacing a tube of toilet paper onto the role is permitted because it is clearly not part of the house. Putting up a loose curtain is also allowed so long as it is dangling and will not prevent people from passing through it. Similarly, decorative items may be hung on hooks on the wall, but the hooks themselves must be affixed to the wall prior to Shabbas.

Large utensils must not be joined together, even loosely, such as a door to a track. Small utensils may be affixed if it is done loosely and not for the first time. One is permitted to unfold and fold even though it results in the creation of a structure, such as a stroller, crib, chair, table or playpen.

Impermissible repairs would include putting nails or hooks into a wall or thumbtacks into a bulletin board. One may not repair a detached shower rod, a door that has come off its hinges, a mezuzah that has fallen, or replace a window screen or cover a broken window. Additionally, one may not clean a rain gutter, repair a toilet lever or replace the toilet seat. Authorities are split on the use of a plunger.


Adapted from the Shabbos Home by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen

Jewish Times Asia is published by Asia Publishing Group Ltd. © Copyright 2009.
Material in the newspaper or on this site may not be used or reproduced in any form or in any way without permission from the editor.
While every effort has been made to ensure the content is true and accurate, the publisher is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the printed text.