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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Shelach

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.

Meleches Kotzer

The Mekoshesh Eitzim, who publicly desecrated the Shabbos, was punished by stoning. He transgressed one of the 39 forbidden melachos--reaping. As concerning all melachos of Shabbos, the Rabbis have added many additional prohibitions, fences, to guard the individual from transgressing a prohibition of the Torah. What follows is a digest of modern-day applications of forbidden actions on Shabbos related to Meleches Kotzer--reaping.

It is prohibited to lift any flower pot, whether perforated or non-perforated, on Shabbos. In some situations the prohibition may be Min HaTorah, while at other times it is only M'iderabonon.

It is prohibited to smell a growing edible fruit while it is connected to a tree, since one may be tempted to cut and eat the fruit. It is permissible, however, to smell a growing plant or flowers which are still attached to the ground, since one can benefit from the fragrance while the plant is still attached to the ground. One may even touch growing flowers, provided their stem is soft and does not normally turn hard.

A fruit that has fallen off the tree on Shabbos may not be eaten on Shabbos, but may be eaten immediately after Shabbos.

One may not use a tree in any form on Shabbos. Therefore, one cannot climb a tree, place an object on a tree or remove an object from a tree. All trees are included, whether fruit bearing or barren, living or dead. Some authorities are more lenient if the tree is so dried up that it has no moisture left (Aruch Hashulchan).

Since one may not remove objects from a tree on Shabbos, before Shabbos one may not place [or leave] items--that might be used on Shabbos--on a tree, since he may be tempted to remove that item from the tree on Shabbos.

Although touching a tree is permissible, leaning on a tree in a manner that supports one's weight is prohibited. Thus, one may not lean on a tree to tie his shoes if the tree supports his weight.

One may sit on a stump of a dead tree (Aruch Hashulchan).

Touching, moving, walking, running or lying on grass is permissible. Some Poskim prohibit running in high grass if it may definitely result in some grass being uprooted.

Grass [that was uprooted on Shabbos] that has become stuck to one's shoes on Shabbos is considered Muktze and may not be removed in the normal manner. This is because the grass had still been attached to the ground at the time that Shabbos began.

A swing or a hammock which is connected to a tree may not be used on Shabbos. Even a swing which is connected to a chain and the chain, in turn, is connected to a ring which is attached to the tree is still prohibited to use or to place a child in (HaRav M. Feinstein). If a pole is connected to two trees, however, and a swing or hammock is attached to the pole, it may be used, provided that the trees are sturdy and will not move.

Flowers in a vase may be moved on Shabbos. They may not, however, be moved from a shady area to a sunny area so they will grow better (Chazon Ish). One may remove flowers from a vase full of water, as long as they have not grown roots in the water (HaRav S.Z. Auerbach). Once removed, they may not be put back in the water, if that will result in an additional opening [blossoming] of the flower.

Water may not be added to a flower vase on Shabbos. On Yom Tov, however, water may be added (SSK 26:26).

One may not gather individual flowers and create an arrangement in a vase, even if the vase has no water. This is prohibited due to Makeh B'patish. (IG"M OC 4:73).

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1995 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra

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