Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Temporary and Almost Temporary Knots

Sewing and tying are two ways to create a permanent connection.   Buttons and buckles are often used to create temporary connections; that is connections that by there very nature are meant to be  broken.  Buttons and buckles, in fact, are only used to create temporary connections, so it is always permitted to button/unbutton and buckle/unbuckle on Shabbos.  That's true even if the intent is to leave the connection till after Shabbos (putting on my shoes for mincha), or the garment came into Shabbos connected (my suit jacket Friday night).  Sewing is almost always meant to be permanent, and so is essentially forbidden on Shabbos.  (There are some possible exceptions.)

Knots are funny because they can be used both for temporary and permanent connections.  Knots that are meant to be undone soon (preferably within the day, but up to a week in case of need) are permitted l'chatchila.  Tying shoes, putting on a gartel, cinching my robe closed; all no problem.  Knots that are meant to be permanent because they are creating something, such as to form a loop in a camel's nose to which I can attach his leash, are forbidden m'd'oraisa.  Knots that are meant to last a long time to perform a useful function, attaching a rope to a bucket so I can draw water from a well for example, are generally prohibited by Rabbinic decree; but, of course, there is wiggle room there.

Then there are knots that perform some useful function -- and I definitely want them to remain until that task is completed -- but then I couldn't care less what happens.  One example of that is new paired garments (shoes and mittens, for example) that are tied together to prevent them from becoming separated until they are sold.  The manufacturer certainly wants that knot to remain in place until sold.  After that, however, he couldn't care less what happens.  The pokim allow cutting those knots off.  (Cutting is generally preferred to untying because it's less work and destructive; both factors increasing the permissibility.)  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach says the heter is because any knot meant to be undone cannot be categorized as permanent.  R' Nissim Karelitz says the reason is because the knot is intended to prevent the items from being functional, so (again) it is by nature temporary.

Another kind of knot that I don't care about after some time is tying a plastic garbage bag closed before disposal or taping closed a dirtied disposable diaper.  In both cases I really, really want the knot/tape to stay solid until it gets to the dump, but don't give it a second thought once it is gone.  This is worse than the glove/shoe case, because these knots are never likely to actually be undone.  There is also the fact that taping a diaper closed is more like sewing.  There is also the fact (mentioned above) that some sewing is also by nature temporary and so there my be some leniency in undoing it.

Out of time/space, though; we won't be able to sew up all the knotty issues today.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…