QUESTION: Is it permissible to wind up a [mechanical] baby swing or
up toy on Shabbos(1)?
DISCUSSION: Winding up a baby swing set could possibly be a
violation of a
Shabbos Labor, either 1) tikun mana, fixing or creating an object, which
is a prohibition derived from makeh b'patish, or 2) boneh, building. Let
There is a general agreement among the poskim that one is not allowed to
wind up a stopped watch on Shabbos. The Chayei Adam(2) rules that winding
a stopped watch is Biblically prohibited because of tikun mana. The
winding is considered an act of repair, as a clock or a watch are meant to
run continuously and are therefore in a "broken" state when they have
stopped. Although in the past some poskim(3) have disputed this logic(4),
the majority of the poskim(5), including the Mishnah Berurah(6), rule
stringently and do not permit winding a stopped watch. Such is the
prevalent custom and it may not be changed(7).
The Chazon Ish(8), too, considers winding a watch a Biblical prohibition.
Unlike the Chayei Adam quoted above, though, he prohibits it for a
different reason. He maintains that by winding a watch one is "bringing to
life" a piece of machinery which has been "dead." When this is done by
tightening parts (as in winding a watch where the loose parts of the
spring are tightened up), it is considered boneh, building(9).
A major practical difference between these two arguments would be in
regard to winding up toys. If we were to follow the Chayei Adam's logic as
to why it is prohibited to wind up watches, then a strong case could be
made to permit winding toys. Harav S. Z. Auerbach(10) introduces two basic
arguments to prove that there is a fundamental difference between the
winding of a watch and the winding of a toy. In brief:
Winding a watch sets it for a long period of time
it). A toy, however, "runs" for a few minutes and then stops.
Since the purpose of a watch is to show the time at all times, when
is stopped, it is considered "broken", and winding it is
considered "fixing" it. A toy is not malfunctioning when it does not run.
It is made to run at specific times only. Thus, when it is stopped, it is
not considered "broken." Winding it does not render it "fixed." In other
words, winding does not "fix" it; rather, it makes it usable, which is
The above arguments, however, hold true only if we were to follow the
Chayei Adam's logic for prohibiting winding watches. Were we to follow the
Chazon Ish's reasoning, however, then there would be no difference between
a watch and a toy. In both cases the "dead" item is being "brought to
life" through the winding process. There is a strong possibility,
therefore, that it would be prohibited to wind up toys, either Biblically
or by Rabbinic decree(11).
It seems that winding up a baby swing is similar to winding up toys.
L'chatchilah, therefore, one should refrain from winding up a baby swing
on Shabbos, in deference to the opinion of those who prohibit it(12). When
absolutely necessary, however, since the Mishnah Berurah rules like the
Chayei Adam, one has an authority to rely on if a crying baby cannot be
quieted unless the baby swing is activated. Even then, it would be
preferable if the winding were done by a non-Jew(13). If a non-Jew is
unavailable, a minor should be asked to do it(14). If a minor is
unavailable, an adult should wind the swing, with a shinui, in an unusual
QUESTION: Is it permitted to touch, lean or sit on a tree on
DISCUSSION: Since it is Biblically prohibited to tear a branch or a
from a tree on Shabbos, the Rabbis erected numerous 'fences'
[precautionary measures] in order to prevent this transgression. [It is
for this reason that Chazal forbade riding an animal on Shabbos, since it
is easy to forget and pull a branch off a tree while riding an animal(16).
As an extension of this edict, the Rabbis declared all animals to be
It is Rabbinically prohibited, therefore, to:
Shake a tree on Shabbos(18). One may touch a tree if it will not shake
Climb, sit, or lean heavily [e.g., to tie one's shoes] on a tree on
Shabbos(20). One may sit on a dead tree stump(21).
Swing from a branch or from an object directly connected to a tree.
a swing or a hammock which is connected to a tree may not be used on
Shabbos(22). 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
forbidden to be used(23). If, however, poles are connected to two trees
and a swing or hammock is attached to the poles, they may be used,
provided that the trees are sturdy and will not move or bend.
To place or hang an object [e.g., a jacket, a sefer] on a tree on
To remove an object from a tree on Shabbos. Even before Shabbos, it
prohibited to place [or leave] items on a tree that are usually used on
Shabbos, since one could easily forget and remove them from the tree on
To smell a growing, edible fruit while it is growing on a tree, since
could easily lead to picking the fruit from the tree in order to eat it
(25). It is even forbidden to eat - on Shabbos - a fruit that has fallen
off the tree on Shabbos. It is permitted, however, to eat it immediately
All trees - whether fruit bearing or barren, living or dead - are included
in these Rabbinical decrees(27). But the restrictions apply only to the
part of the tree which is higher than ten inches from the ground(28).
Trees and bushes which do not grow to a height of ten inches are not
restricted in any way(29).
1 Obviously, a musical swing set is prohibited, and is the not the subject
of our discussion.
3 Panim Me'iros 2:123; Ya'avetz 1:41; Kesav Sofer 55; Sho'el u'Meishiv
6:53 and others.
4 In their opinion, a watch is made initially as an object that must be
constantly wound. When it is stopped, it is not considered broken, and
winding it does not fix it.
5 See Da'as Torah 338:3 and Minchas Shabbos 80:241.
6 338:5. See also 252:50.
7 Kesav Sofer 55 and Minchas Shlomo 9.
8 O.C. 50:9.
9 This is similar to the view of the Chazon Ish concerning the usage of
electricity on Shabbos.
10 See Minchas Shelomo 9 and Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 16, note 39. See
also Be'er Moshe 6:32 for a concurring opinion.
11 Harav M. Feinstein is orally quoted (Sefer Tiltulei Shabbos, pg. 28,
note 36) as Biblically prohibiting wind-up toys (even according to the
logic of the Chayei Adam); Harav S.Y. Elyashiv is orally quoted (Shalmei
Yehudah 5:12) as prohibiting wind-up toys "just like it is prohibited to
wind up a watch." Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Minchas Shelomo 9, Tikunim u'Miluim
to Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 16, note 39) writes that according to the
logic of the Chazon Ish, it may be rabbinically prohibited to wind up toys.
12 Rabbi P.E. Falk (Zachor v'Shamor, sec. 38, pg. 33).
13 Since a non-Jew may do any forbidden labor for a small child's needs;
O.C. 276:1; 328:17. See also Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 338:19.
14 Based on Rama O.C. 259:7; Magen Avraham 269:1; Mishnah Berurah 277:15.
See also Rama O.C. 362:7 and Mishnah Berurah.
15 See also Children in Halachah, pg. 217, who permits winding a swing
after first activating it by pushing, since many poskim agree that one is
allowed to wind a watch which has not stopped; see Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 338:17-
18. This leniency is debatable.
16 O.C. 305:18.
17 O.C. 308:39.
18 Unless mentioned otherwise, Yom Tov has the same halachos.
19 Rama O.C. 336:13.
20 O.C. 336:1; 336:13 and Beiur Halachah.
21 Aruch ha-Shulchan 336:18. Mishnah Berurah's position, however, is not
22 O.C. 336:13.
23 Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, vol.
1, pg. 62).
24 Mishnah Berurah 336:12 based on O.C. 277:4 and 514:6. [See explanation
by Harav S.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 330.
See also a more lenient opinion in Tehilah l'David 277:7.]
25 O.C. 336:10.
26 O.C. 322:3.
27 Mishnah Berurah 336:1. There are some poskim who are lenient in the
case of a tree which has completely dried out; see Mishnah Berurah, ibid.
and Aruch ha-Shulchan 13.
28 Mishnah Berurah 336:21.
29 O.C. 336:2. However, if the tree or bush which are under 10 inches high
are fruit-bearing, some poskim prohibit those as well; Mishnah Berurah
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Torah.org. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross email@example.com.
Rabbi Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770
A Little Background Information
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755
Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770
Shlomo Katz - 5767
From the Mouth of a "Turned Off" Student
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759
The Right Size Portion
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772
Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768
Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774
A Fundamental of "Foundation"
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763
For Shame or Pride
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766
Those Small Jars
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758
Getting Together Again, For Good
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767
A Dialog That Got To The Heart of The Matter
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763