Boneh

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The basic definition of Boneh is creating or assembling any kind of structure. In order to be culpable for Boneh, one need not even build the entire structure; even contributing to the building process can be enough to be culpable. The classic example of the av melacha of Boneh would be the construction of a permanent structure, like a house.[1] The amount of Boneh that one must do to be culpable is any amount.[2]

Two Primary Principles of Boneh

  1. Creating a shelter ("asiat ohel") [3]
  2. Assembling pieces to create a form or structure ("me'dabek chalakim") [4]
  3. Performing either of these actions constitutes a Torah-prohibition, as both of these actions were done in the construction of the Mishkan. An action that involves both of these principles is the av melacha of Boneh. [5] Pitching a tent, even if it does not require assembly, would be asiyas ohel and a toldah of Boneh.[6]

Building shelters and tents

  1. Setting up a functional installation attached to the ground is a violation of Boneh (building). For example, it's forbidden to erect a post in the ground or tomato stake to support a tomato plant. [7]
  2. Laying bricks, setting up rocks as a border to a garden, putting down rocks for landscaping purposes (like chips around a tree or on a road or path), and building a fence are all violations of Boneh (building). [8]
  3. Building a Sukkah is forbidden as Boneh (building). [9]
  4. Building any functional land structure whether it is permanent or temporary is forbidden. [10]
  5. However, using an object as it is normally used such as closing a door is permitted. Similarly one may replace a removable paper towel roll or removable toilet paper holder. [11]

Adding on to a existing structure

  1. Just as it is forbidden to create even a temporary structure on Shabbat, it is forbidden to add onto a permanent structure even if the addition is temporary.[12]
  2. In previous centuries it was common to have dirt floors and it would be forbidden to put down new sand as it is left as a permanent layer of the floor and is a violation of Boneh (building). [13]
  3. Putting down a large area rug which is meant to remain there for more than 7 days is forbidden as it is considered something that can become nullified to the floor. [14]
  4. Tiling a floor, wallpapering a room, installing a doorknob are all forbidden as adding to an existing structure. [15]
  5. According to many poskim it is permitted to rehang a picture that fell on Shabbat as long as the picture isn't expensive and rare. [16]
  6. One should not replace a mezuzah that fell on Shabbat because of issues of adding to an existing structure and muktzeh. However, if it is lying on the floor one pick it up in a abnormal way such as by using the palms of both hands. [17]

Digging and filling a hole

  1. When people used to have dirt floors, if there was a hole in the floor, filling it up would be a violation of Boneh. [18]

Assembling objects

  1. One of the biggest limitations in the melacha of Boneh is its application to keilim, moveable vessels that are not attached to the ground. Ein binyan b’keilim is a concept that appears in several Gemaras[19] and is the subject of an enormous machlokes[20] among the rishonim, achronim, and poskim. Despite the all-encompassing implication of “ein binyan b’keilim,” most rishonim and poskim say that there are situations when one can make a kli and be chayav on a biblical level for Boneh. The general consensus among most rishonim is that Boneh does apply to keilim when one makes a kli in its entirety[21] or if one uses strength and craft (chizuk v’umanus) in the process of making it.[22]
  2. Making a utensil loosely is permitted if it usually is made loosely, but it is forbidden to fit it together tightly or even loosely if it usually fits together tightly.[23] For example, constructing an army cot from pieces that come apart on Shabbat or Yom Tov is forbidden since the legs fight in tightly.
    1. If a shtender is made of multiple pieces it is forbidden to construct or reassemble if it is apart unless it is so loose that the pieces would wobble in their sockets.[24]
  3. Covering a pot with a cover tightly is permitted since it is meant to be opened and closed all the time.[25]
  4. A shtender which can have its height adjusted with a knob but isn't frequently adjusted, according to many poskim it is permitted to adjust the height on Shabbat, and according to others it is forbidden.[26]
  5. Making an earth vessel such as an oven or barrel before it is hardened in the kiln is a violation of Boneh. [27]
  6. One shouldn't untangle Tzitzit strings on Shabbat because this involves Tikkun Kli (fixing of a vessel). [28]
  7. One shouldn't make a paper boat or paper hat by folding the paper since this involves creating a vessel. [29]
  8. One may fold a napkin regularly, but one shouldn't fold it in a special shape, such as is normally done in honor of guests. [30]

In the Mishkan

  1. The melacha of Boneh was done in the Mishkan when they placed the kerashim, the planks that made up the walls, into their sockets.[31]

Building a tent

  1. It’s forbidden to set up the roof of a tent, permanent or temporary, on Shabbat, even if one there are no walls. Additionally, it’s forbidden to add onto a tent structure, however, a temporary addition to an existing structure is permitted. [32]
  2. It is forbidden to set up a tent out of blankets even if it is meant to be temporary. [33]

Adding an existing structure

  1. It’s permitted to make a temporary addition to an exisiting tent. Therefore, if there is a Tefach of roof already opened before Shabbat one may continue to add a temporary addition to that roof, but one should only add to the existing roof starting from the side which is already roofed. [34]
  2. One may not put a mat on top of polls or walls even if the mat is rolled up if there is a Tefach of width to the roll of the mat. Even if the rolled mat was put there before Shabbat one may not unroll it on Shabbat, however, if a Tefach of the mat was already unrolled then it is permitted to continue to unroll it on Shabbat. [35]

Roof which is attached

  1. If a roof was attached before Shabbat with hinges or another permanent connection it is permitted to spread out that roof (which was attached) on Shabbat. [36]
  2. It is permitted to open the hood of a baby carriage if it was attached from before Shabbat, however, it was attached on Shabbat one may not spread it one Shabbat. Once the hood is open it is permitted to add a temporary additional roof but one should start to add to that roof from the side which is already covered (by the hood). [37]

Practical Examples of Building

Folding table

  1. It is permitted to open a folding table. [38]
  2. It’s permitted to add a table leaf to extend a table on Shabbat (for temporary use), however, one should take it apart unless one needs the space on that Shabbat. [39]
  3. One should not remove a drawer from a table if there’s a depth of a Tefach in the drawer, however, it is permitted to remove a drawer from a dresser because even after removing the drawer there still remains a roofed structure in the dresser. [40]
  4. It is permitted to spread a tablecloth even if it hangs over the side of the table. [41]

Umbrella

  1. The Rabbis forbade opening and closing an umbrella on Shabbat. Furthermore, they forbade using an umbrella that’s already opened from before Shabbat. [42]
  2. An umbrella is muktzeh since it cannot be used [43]

Binoculars

See Binoculars and Telescopes on the Games on Shabbat page

Setting up a Mechitza

  1. It’s permissible to set up a partition as a mechitzah in shul between men and women on Shabbat. [44]

Saltshakers

  1. It is permitted to open and close a saltshaker on Shabbat. [45]

Pot covers

It is permitted to cover or remove the cover on a pot on Shabbat. [46] Some say that one may not cover a pot which is larger than 40 seah. [47]

Glasses

  1. Some poskim permit a glasses lenses to be replaced by a non-professional [48] while others forbid. [49]

Hanging up Pictures

  1. Some say that on Shabbat it’s permitted to hang or remove a picture on a nail already in the wall. [50]

Bottle caps

  1. See the Opening_bottles_and_containers#Bottle_caps page.

Ice cubes

  1. Some are lenient to allow making ice on Shabbat and don't consider it to be constructing ice cubes. [51] In terms of preparing for after Shabbat, see Hachana.

Watches

  1. It is forbidden to wind a watch which has stopped working on Shabbat. [52] Some say that one may wind it if it is still working. [53]

Shtender

  1. Some say that it is permitted to adjust the height of a shtender if (1) the parts aren’t held tightly and (2) the parts are frequently opened and closed (as is common which shtenders in shul). However, if the parts fit tightly or it isn’t opened and closed frequently (as is common which shtenders in a house) it’s forbidden. The pieces are considered held loosely if one isn’t considered if the parts move around where they are joined. [54] However, some poskim are lenient in all cases. [55]

Play pen

  1. Some sat that it is permitted to set up a baby’s play pen only if (1) the parts aren’t held tightly and (2) the parts are frequently opened and closed. However, if the parts fit tightly or it isn’t opened and closed frequently it’s forbidden. The pieces are considered held loosely if one isn’t considered if the parts move around where they are joined. [56] However, some permit it if it is used frequently. [57]
  2. It is forbidden to cover a play pen with a blanket to protect it from the sun or bugs. However if the blanket was spread over the pen from before Shabbat at least a tefach in width (not including the part which was rolled up) then one may spread it out fully on Shabbat. One should make sure not to remove the blanket totally rather leave at least a Tefach spread out. [58]

Baby basket

  1. It is permitted to adjust the height of a baby’s basket if (1) the parts aren’t held tightly and (2) the parts are frequently opened and closed. However, if the parts fit tightly or it isn’t opened and closed frequently it’s forbidden. The pieces are considered held loosely if one isn’t considered if the parts move around where they are joined. [59]

Sukkah Schlock

  1. It is permitted to put a rainproof cover (like a plastic tarp) on top of the Sachach of a Sukkah on Yom Tov as long as it is clear that one is only doing so to protect the sukkah and also the covering is within 3 tefachim of the sachach. When putting on the cover one should be careful not to move the Sachach because it is Muktzeh. [60]

Beds

  1. It is permitted to spread a bed sheet even if it hangs over the side of the bed. [61]
  2. It is forbidden to put together a crib on Shabbat. [62]

Building a wall

  1. It’s forbidden to build a permanent wall which means that it is meant to last a few days. [63]
  2. It is permitted to erect a temporary wall even to protect from the sun or wind; for example it’s permitted to set up temporary walls around a sick person’s bed [64]
  3. It’s permitted to place a cloth in place of a broken window, but one may not use nails or thumbtacks. [65]
  4. It’s permitted to set up a Parochet (curtain) in front of the Aron in Shul on Shabbat as long as it doesn’t have a width of a Tefach as a roof. Some only permit if there are doors besides the curtain while others forbid unless there are doors. [66] If it is a large Parochet it should only be put up by two people so that it doesn’t fold over and form a tent on Shabbat. [67]

Curtains

  1. It’s permitted to set up a curtain in place of a door even if it’s attached at the bottom and top only if it is meant to be set up temporarily (less than a few days). [68]
  2. Some permit setting up a curtain even for many days (permanently) if it is only attached at the top and not the bottom. However, others hold that this is biblically forbidden. Even according to those who permit when put up a large curtain one must make sure to put it up with two people so that it doesn’t fold over while trying to put it up and when it folds over it will form a tent on Shabbat. [69]
  3. Setting up a curtain in place of a window is the same as a door (if it’s temporary it’s permitted, if it’s permanent some permit if one only attaches it at the top while others forbid.) [70]

Links

Sources

  1. Rav Eli Baruch Shulman highlighted a Rashi in Beitzah, 11b (s.v. d’ein binyan b’keilim) that says the reason that there is no binyan by keilim (according to Beis Hillel) is because Boneh applies only to binyan batim.
  2. Mishnah, Shabbos 102b. The Gemara says this is learned from the Mishkan where they would fill up wormholes in the kerashim with melted lead.
  3. Rambam 7,6 This was done in the Mishkan when the walls and rooftops were assembled.
  4. Rambam 11,13 and 22,27 This was done in the Mishkan when the planks were assembled.
  5. Rambam as explained by the Even Ha'ezel 10,17. For instance, Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 7:6 writes that making cheese on Shabbos is a violation of Boneh, as it involves combining pieces together to create a new object.
  6. Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos, 10:13
  7. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1005)
  8. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1006)
  9. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1010)
  10. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1012) explains that if it is a construction that can't be taken apart and only can be broken then it's forbidden biblically whether it is permanent or temporary and if it is a assembly that can be dismantled then building it for temporary purposes (less than 7 days) is a rabbinic violation and building it for permanent purposes is biblical violations.
  11. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1014-5)
  12. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:67
  13. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1015)
  14. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1017 and 1019) explains that since it is only a loose addition it doesn't become nullified to the floor unless it is put there for 7 days.
  15. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1016-7)
  16. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1019) explains that that according to many opinions hanging a picture isn't a violation of adding to a existing structure because it retains it's own function similar to putting a potted plant on the floor or a vessel in the breakfront even though it will remain for a long time. On pg 1038 he writes that it's permissible to rehang it unless it is a expensive and rare painting because it would be muktzah and according to some poskim it's muktzeh once it was attached during the onset of Shabbat.
  17. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 4, pg 1038)
  18. In Gemara (Shabbat 73b) Rava says that if one fills in a hole with dirt inside the house, one has violated Boneh. Rambam (Shabbat 10:12) rules that flattening the ground indoors, by flattening a mound or filling in a hole is a violation of Boneh. Mishna Brurah 337:6 writes that if one intentionally fills the holes when sweeping one would violate Boneh.
  19. Shabbos 102b, 122b and Beitzah 11b are some examples
  20. According to Rashi Shabbat 74b s.v. ve’iy there is no issue of boneh when constructing a utensil and only if it is attached to the ground is it boneh, altogether either way it’ll be macah b’patish. However, Tosfot s.v. chavita argues that creating a kli is also boneh as the gemara Shabbat 102b cites the opinion of Rav who holds that assembling a shovel is boneh. Maginei Shlomo Shabbat 102b answers Tosfot’s question based on the Ramban (Milchamot Shabbat 37a) who explains that many other amoraim disagree with Rav and hold that there's no boneh in constructing utensils. See Peni Yehoshua Shabbat 74b for another answer. Nonetheless, the conclusion of most rishonim is that it is boneh to create a utensil from scratch like Tosfot. This is the opinion of Baal Hameor (on Rif Shabbat 37a s.v. ayil), Ran (37a s.v. makshu), Ramban (102b s.v. rav), and Rashba (102b s.v. hay). For further reading, the sefer Binyan Shabbos (Part 1) dedicates several chapters to this topic.
  21. Chiddushei HaRamban, Shabbos 102b, s.v. Rav Amar. Also see Tosfos, Shabbos 74b, s.v. Chavisa
  22. Tosfos, Shabbos 102b, s.v. Hai. It should be noted that Rashi (Shabbos 47a, s.v. Chayav Chatas; Beitza 11b, s.v. d’ein) seems to be of the opinion that there is no concept of binyan b’keilim at all. However, Rashi says (Shabbos 47a) that there are cases, like making a kli in its entirety, when one would be chayav for makeh b’patish.
  23. The Gemara Shabbat 47a cites a dispute whether constructing a bed in a loose fashion is permitted but everyone agrees if it is tight it is forbidden. The Shulchan Aruch 313:6 rules that if it is loose it is permitted. Rama 313:6 writes that it is only permitted to assemble a utensil in a loose fashion if it is normally loose, however, if it is usually tight and you just made it loose once there is a concern you'll make it tight this time. The Bet Yosef cites this concept from the Hagahot Ashuri Shabbat 3:23 and infers it from the Rambam 22:26.
  24. Shulchan Aruch 313:6 cites a dispute whether constructing a cup is similar to constructing a bed. Mishna Brurah 313:45 explains the dispute is whether a cup which is which put together tightly but not hammered together is judged like a bed or not. Mishna Brurah 313:46 writes that initially we are strict to assume that it is the same halacha as a bed but if there's a need of Shabbat we are lenient. Lastly, Mishna Brurah 313:47 equates a shtender made of pieces to a cup. Shulchan Aruch 313:6 only permits constructing a bed if it is loose. Biur Halacha 313:6 s.v. darka cites the Raavad who explains that loose means that it is so loose that it would wobble in its socket.
  25. Mishna Brurah 313:45
  26. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Meor HaShabbat (v. 2 Letter 32:3) holds that it is permitted to adjust the height of a shtender with a knob which tightens and loosens, even if it is only infrequently adjusted, since the shtender is like covering and uncovering a pot, which was a utensil before and after the use. However, Minchat Yitzchak 9:38 disagrees since the shtender is only infrequently adjusted unlike a pot cover. See Dirshu (Mishna Brurah 313:45) and Peninei Halacha Shabbat 15:6.
  27. Rambam (Shabbat 10:13)
  28. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 15:94
  29. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 16:21
  30. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 28:17
  31. Yerushalmi Shabbos, 7th and 12th Perek
  32. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:1-2
  33. Menuchat Ahava (vol 3, 23:8), Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:1-2
  34. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:6
  35. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:5, 7
  36. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:13
  37. Chazon Ish OC 52:6 holds that it is permitted to open and close the roof of a baby carriage and it isn't considered like creating an ohel to protect from the sun. His reasoning is that it since it is attached to the carriage opening it is like extending a preexisting ohel. Also, it is like opening and closing a door which is built to do that. See Rama 626:3 regarding opening and closing a shlock for the sukkah and Mishna Brurah 315:27 regarding shtenders. In that piece Chazon Ish is disagreeing with the Nodeh Beyehuda OC 2:30 regarding umbrellas. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:13 agrees and is lenient. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Chazon Ovadia (Shabbat v. 5 p. 302) writes that one should be strict for those are strict. Yalkut Yosef 315:12 quotes those who are strict and concludes that it is proper to leave it a tefach (excluding the folded part) open before Shabbat and extend it or fold it up on Shabbat.
  38. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:23
  39. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:23, Practical Laws of Shabbat (Rabbi Rafeal Soae, vol 2, pg 146), Rivivot Ephraim 1:222:3. Chazon Ovadia (v. 5, p. 315) writes that it is permitted to add a leaf to a table and it doesn’t involve constructing an ohel, since part of the ohel was already in place (and it is temporary).
  40. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:24 (and note 85)
  41. Mishna Brurah 315:31, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:25
  42. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:15, Biur Halacha 315:7, Ben Ish Chai (second year Shemot #8), Noda Biyehuda 1:30, Rabbi Eli Mansour, Rivevot Ephraim 7:105 and 2:115:61. see however Chatam Sofer OC 72 who is lenient
  43. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:15
  44. Yalkut Yosef (vol 2, 315, pg 531), Rav Soloveitchik (cited in Nefesh Harav pg. 170)
  45. Minchat Shlomo 1:11:4 says that this isn't an issue of boneh since it isn't typically screwed on tightly.
  46. Yalkut Yosef (pg 506)
  47. Or Letzion (vol 2, chap 28:5)
  48. Yalkut Yosef (pg 512)
  49. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 15:77
  50. Yalkut Yosef (pg 527)
  51. Yalkut Yosef (pg 515)
  52. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:19
  53. Yalkut Yosef (pg 512)
  54. Or Letzion (vol 2, 27:3). Sh"t Minchat Yitzchak 9:38 prohibits in any event
  55. Yalkut Yosef (314, pg 504), Shulchan Shlomo 313:7, Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 6:32.
  56. Or Letzion (vol 2, 27:1)
  57. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:23
  58. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:9
  59. Or Letzion (vol 2, 27:1)
  60. Mishna Brurah 640:25, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:12
  61. Mishna Brurah 315:31, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:25
  62. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:23
  63. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:26
  64. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:27
  65. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:27
  66. Rama 315:1, Mishna Brurah 315:7
  67. S”A 315:12, Mishna Brurah 315:8
  68. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:27
  69. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:28 quotes the opinion of the Rama 315:1 and Mishna Brurah 315:6 as being lenient against the Chazon Ish 52:13 who is strict, but don’t resolve or take a side in the dispute. The Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata insists on putting it up with two people based on the S”A 315:12
  70. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:29