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.
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
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
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
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
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