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Chapter 87:8
Animals on Shabbos

8. One who has a Gentile helper who rides the animal out into the public domain in order to allow it to drink, does not have to prevent him from doing so on Shabbos. The reason for the prohibition against riding on Shabbos, is not because the person is considered a burden (carried by the animal) (1), since "a living being carries itself" (carrying a living being on Shabbos is only a Rabbinic prohibition, which the Sages did not apply to one's animal) (2). Rather, the prohibition against riding applies to the rider himself, that is, a Jew is not allowed to ride on Shabbos (3). Thus, this prohibition does not apply to a Gentile. [There is no prohibition against the Gentile's] placing of a saddle or saddlecloth on the animal to enable him to ride it, for they are not considered entities in their own right, but rather auxiliaries of the rider. He may not, however, place other articles on the animal (4).


(1) As we've seen, one may not allow one's animal to carry a burden on Shabbos.

(2) In other words, according to Biblical law, because a living being carries its own weight to a certain extent (sleeping babies are always heavier to carry!), one does not violate the prohibition against carrying on Shabbos, when one carries a living being on Shabbos. The Sages later made an enactment prohibiting a person from carrying a living being on Shabbos, but did not extend the prohibition to one's animal (See Shulchan Aruch 305:22).

(3) There is a rabbinical prohibition against riding or even making use of an animal's body on Shabbos or Yom Tov (Beizta 19a). The reason given by the Talmud Bavli is a concern that one may break off a tree branch (a biblical violation of Shabbos) in order to strike it while leading it along or riding it. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the reason for the rabbinical prohibition is a concern that one may come to lead the animal into a public domain with a load on its back, which we saw is Biblically prohibited (Aruch Hashulchan 305:16).

(4) Other articles would be considered a burden.

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