The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.For final rulings, consult your Rav.
Broken Glasses on Shabbos
EYEGLASSES THAT BREAK ON SHABBOS
Before we see if and how broken eyeglasses can be fixed on Shabbos, we will
list the halachic violations that may be incurred when doing so. Our
discussion covers the two most common mishaps - a temple (earpiece) breaking
off from a frame, and a lens popping out of a frame. There are three areas
It is Biblically forbidden to firmly attach two objects on Shabbos and Yom
Tov, either because of boneh or tikun mana, a form of makeh b'patish(1). It
makes no difference whether the objects are fitted into each other tightly
or screwed into each other tightly. [Even though a minority view holds that
the Biblical prohibition applies only when the items are forced together but
not when they are merely screwed into each other(2), in practice we should
follow the stringent view(3).] Accordingly, it is strictly forbidden to
screw a temple onto a frame on Shabbos and on Yom Tov(4).
Even inserting the screw into the hinge without tightening it is forbidden,
since the normal tendency is to tighten the screw and one can easily forget
himself and inadvertently tighten it(5). This Rabbinical prohibition is
called shema yitka, lit., "liable to be firmly attached." The decree of
shema yitka, applies only on Shabbos, not on Yom Tov, since the Rabbis felt
it would cause undue hardships and interfere with Simchas Yom Tov(6).
As an added precaution, the Rabbis forbade handling the detached objects and
rendered them severe muktzeh. The case which the Shulchan Aruch(7) discusses
involves a kirah, a four-legged stove, whose leg (or legs) became detached.
The halachah is that both the base and the detached legs may not be moved,
since one may easily forget and reattach the legs to the stove, thus
violating a Biblical prohibition. Since this Rabbinical prohibition
originated with the case of a stove, it became known as gzeiras kirah, "the
decree concerning the stove."
In the following cases gzeiras kirah does not apply:
If the leg is broken or missing and can no longer be re-attached. In such a
case the stove is not muktzeh, since we no longer fear that the detached
parts will be re-attached(8).
If the leg was detached before Shabbos and the stove was being used even
though it was missing a leg(9).
On Yom Tov, gzeiras kirah does not apply(10).
As mentioned above, the Shulchan Aruch uses a stove as his case in
point(11). The Rama adds that the same rules apply to a bench whose legs
became detached. Most later-day poskim(12) agree that all similar objects
are included in this Rabbinical prohibition(13). It follows, therefore, that
the halachos concerning a temple which becomes detached from its frame will
be similar to the cases of the stove and the bench mentioned above.
Based on these principles, we can now answer the following questions:
Q: Can the temple be screwed back onto the frame?
A: Strictly forbidden, according to all views.
Q: Can the screw be inserted into the hinge without tightening it?
A: No. The prohibition of shema yitka applies. On Yom Tov, however, it is
Q: May one wear the glasses while only one temple is attached?
A: On Yom Tov, yes.
On Shabbos, however, it depends: If the detached temple or screw is lost,
it is permitted to wear the frames minus the temple, since gzeiras kirah
does not apply. If the detached temple and screw are accessible, the frames
become muktzeh. If, however, it is acceptable to be seen in glasses that
have a missing temple, the glasses may be worn(14). If it would be
embarrassing to be seen in such glasses, gzeiras kirah applies and the
frames are muktzeh(15).
If the temple broke off before Shabbos and the glasses were already worn in
their broken state, all poskim agree that it is permitted to wear them on
Shabbos, regardless of whether the other temple or screw is missing or
Q: Can the temple be attached to the frames using a wire or a pin?
A: If the original screw, or a replacement, is available, then the frames,
temple, and screw are severe muktzeh, based on gzeiras kirah. Consequently,
they may not be moved at all on Shabbos. If the screw is lost and no
replacement is available, then gzeiras kirah does not apply. It would be
permitted to attach the temple to the frames using a pin or a wire, provided
that it will be removed within 24 hours. The pin or wire may not be
tightened or firmly wound around the frame.
On Yom Tov, since shema yitka and gzeiras kirah do not apply, it would be
permitted to attach the temple using a pin or wire [as stated above],
regardless of whether or not the screw is lost.
Q: There are frames (usually plastic ones) that hold the lens in place
merely by exerting pressure on the lens; there is no screw involved. What
can be done if a lens pops out of such frames?
A: If the lens pops out because the pressure on it has slackened (e.g., the
frame expanded slightly due to wear and tear), then it may be
reinserted(17). If, however, the lens is knocked out forcibly and would have
to be forced back in, then the poskim differ in their opinions. Some are
stringent and forbid re-inserting it on the grounds of tikun keli(18), while
others do not consider this an instance of tikun keli since the lens can be
re-inserted with minimal pressure(19).
Q: What can be done if the frames break in half?
A: Nothing. Since they can no longer be worn, the frames are a severe
muktzeh and may not be moved for any reason.
1 Mishnah Berurah 308:37.
2 Taz O.C. 313:7. See Minchas Yitzchak 4:122-21.
3 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 313:32, based on the view of the Magen Avraham. [See also
Binyan Shabbos (Boneh, 2nd editon, pg. 309) who quotes Harav E. Auerbach's
view that the lenient opinion was referring to objects which - although
screwed into each other - can still be adjusted or turned, but not to
tightly connected objects like a temple attached to frames.]
4 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 519:12.
5 Rama O.C. 313:6. Chazon Ish O.C. 50:10, however, disagrees and permits
loosely inserting the screw without tightening it. In his opinion, shema
yitka only applies when the pieces are tightly fitted together. See Hebrew
10 Since gezeiras kirah only applies if shema yitka applies as well.
11 For this reason, this Rabbinical prohibition is known as gzeiras kirah,
the decree of the stove.
12 Ketzos ha-Shulchan 109:10; Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav Y.S. Elyashiv
(quoted in Shalmei Yehudah, pg. 86); Knei Bosem 1:19.
13 A minority view maintians that gzeiras kirah applies only to the two
cases specifically mentioned in the original sources: a stove and a bench.
This is the opinion of Imrei Yosher 1:102, Chelek Levi O.C. 101, and Beis
Yisrael, 12, quoted in Tzitz Eliezer 9:28-9.
14 Harav M. Feinstein (Sefer Tiltulei Shabbos, pg. 148); Az Nidberu 8:33.
15 Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav Y.S. Elyashiv, quoted in Shalmei Yehudah,
16 Rama O.C. 308:16.
17 Harav S. Y. Elyashiv (Shalmei Yeudah, pg. 88); Az Nidberu 8:33; B'tzeil
18 Harav S. Y. Elyashiv, ibid; Shraga ha-Meir 3:43; Shemiras Shabbos
K'hilchasah 15:79; Binyan Shabbos, pg. 149. According to this opinion, the
frames and the lenses would now be muktzeh, due to gzeiras kirah.