Me'amer

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Me'amer is the prohibition of gathering on Shabbat.

Biblical prohibition

  1. It is biblically forbidden to gather two fruits which lie under the tree on which they grew. [1]
  2. The biblical prohibition of Me’amer applies to fruits, vegetables, grass, twigs, and the like. [2]
  3. Consolidating things which grew from the ground (such as dates) into one mass is also biblically forbidden because of Me’amer even when done indoors. [3]

Things which grow from the ground

In the place where they originated

  1. Fruits, (leaves, or twigs) which fell from a tree (even if it fell from before Shabbat) and remained under the tree may not be collected. [4]
  2. Raking leaves for a constructive purpose is biblically forbidden and raking leaves just in order to remove them is forbidden rabbinically. [5]
  3. Sweeping sawdust for discard is rabbinically forbidden. [6]

Not in the place where they originated

  1. If the fruit aren’t in the place where they grew (they were moved) and are scattered in a field they may not be gathered and put in a basket; however, one may collect a few and eat them. However, if the fruits fell in one area one may gather them into a basket unless they fell among sand or dirt. [7]
  2. If fruits or nuts fell and scattered in the house, according to some authorities, it is permissible to collect the scattered fruit, however, according to others, it is forbidden to gather the fruit, but if it impairs proper Kavod Shabbat or not respectful for guests one may sweep it into a pile and then pick them up and if that’s not possible one may even gather them into the fruit drawer (of the refrigerator) or a bag. [8]
  3. Fruits scattered on a table one be collected. [9]
  4. Pearls of a necklace fell and scattered over a large area, if the pearls are natural, according to Ashkenazim, it’s forbidden to collect the pearls on Shabbat, however, if they fell in one place it’s permitted. On the other hand, according to Sephardim, it is permitted to collect the pearls. [10]
  5. It is forbidden to string together diamonds or natural gems. [11]
  6. It is forbidden to make a bouquet of flowers on Shabbat. [12]

Things which do not grow from the ground

In the place were they originated

  1. It is rabbinically prohibited to collect shells off the beach. [13]

Not in the place where they originated

  1. It’s permissible to collect toys scattered across the floor or siddurim scattered around a shul. However, according to Sephardim it’s preferable not to pick up the toys by hand but rather to sweep them into the toy box. [14]
  2. It is permitted to collect silverware scattered on a table. [15]
  3. The minhag to throw candies or nuts in shul for the aliyah of a groom (or the like) and the children collect the candies is not prohibited because of Me’amer. [16]

Sources

  1. Hilchot Shabbos (Rabbi Shimon Eider, vol 1, pg 82), 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 305)
  2. Mishna Brurah 340:37 explains that the biblical prohibition only applies to fruits, vegetables, grass, twigs, and other items that ground from the ground.
  3. S”A 340:10 writes that pressing dates into a mass or stringing figs together is a Toldah of Me’amer and is forbidden. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 305, 9) explains that this applies equally to consolidating anything which grew from the ground even when done indoors. See also Mishna Brurah 340:38 who says that consolidating dates indoors is also forbidden.
  4. Mishna Brurah 340:37 writes that collecting fruit from the place where they grew is biblically prohibited. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (chap 26, note 87) is in doubt whether it is considered in the place where it grew if the fruit fell off the tree and rolled on the ground, (however, if it was picked up, moved, and then dropped, certainly it’s not in the place where it grew).
  5. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 307)
  6. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 307)
  7. Mishna Brurah 340:27 explains that collecting fruit not in the place where they grew is not Me’amer. Nonetheless, he concludes with a reference to S”A 335:5. S”A 335:5 writes that if fruit was scattered here and there throughout a field it is forbidden to gather them into a basket but one may gather them a little at a time to eat them, however, if they fell in one spot one may put them in a basket unless they fell among sand or dirt. Mishna Brurah 335:17 explains that the prohibition in this case is not Me’amer (because the fruit didn’t grow in the courtyard) but still there’s a prohibition of Uvda DeChol (a weekday activity that involves excessive effort) which only applies if they are scattered or amongst sand or dirt. [Therefore, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 26:24 rules one may not collect fruit, leaves, or twigs in the place where they grew, however, if they were scattered in the field one may not collect them but can be collected a little at a time in order to be eaten. However, if they are in one place one may collect them unless they are mixed with sand for leaves one may only take one at a time in order to eat.]
    • Those who are lenient: 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 312), Hilchos Shabbos (Rabbi Eider, vol 1, pg 85, Me’amer note 41), Nishmat Shabbat (335:145), and Or Letzion (vol 2, 43:7) agree that there’s no concern of Uvda DeChol with fruit that scattered in the house. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 312) says that the same is true of nuts that fell and scattered. [Chut Sheni (vol 2, pg 51) on the one hand writes that there’s no Uvda DeChol when doing something that has no resemblance of a Melacha such as collecting toys made from something that grows from the ground (such as wood), however, he forbids collecting fruit scattered in the house or nuts scattered in the Shul.]
    • Those who are strict: Chaye Adam (Shabbat, 13:1), Kitzur S”A 80:10, Brit Olam (Me’amer #7, pg 32), Ayil Meshulash Me’amer (Siman 7, pg 173), Menuchat Ahava (vol 2, 5:6), Orchot Shabbat (18:85, pg 509) and Sh”t Shevet HaKehati 2:148 agree that there is Uvda DeChol even if the fruit was scattered in the house. See also Eliyah Rabba (end of 335) who seems to agree. [Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 5, pg 2) quotes the dispute between the Az Nidbaru and Or Letzion and leaves it unresolved.] Kitzur Shulchan Aruch writes that certainly if the fruit isn't scattered, (but in a pile, ) in the house there's no prohibition in collecting the fruit.
    • [What is the opinion of the Mishna Brurah? S”A 340:9 rules that it’s forbidden to collect salt in the area of an evaporated salt deposit and the same is true for gathering anything in the place where it grew. The Mishna Brurah 340:37 points out that it’s permissible in terms of Me’amer to gather things in a place other than where they grew, for example it’s permissible to collect fruit which was scattered in the house. ]
    • [However, upon analysis the Mishna Brurah concludes his above statement with a reference to S”A 335:5. S”A 335:5 writes that if fruit was scattered here and there throughout a field it is forbidden to gather them into a basket but one may gather them a little at a time to eat them, however, if they fell in one spot one may put them in a basket unless they fell among sand or dirt. Mishna Brurah 335:17 explains that the prohibition in this case is not Me’amer (because the fruit didn’t grow in the courtyard) but still there’s a prohibition of Uvda DeChol (a weekday activity that involves excessive effort) which only applies if they are scattered or amongst sand or dirt.]
    • [Based on this reference of the Mishna Brurah, Sh”t Az Nidabru 14:17 argues that the prohibition of Uvda DeChol (a weekday activity that involves excessive effort) would apply equally if fruit were scattered in a field or a house. However, 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, Me’amer, note 35) understands the Mishna Brurah to mean that there’s no prohibition at all collecting fruit in the house.]
    • Are there are permissible ways of gathering the fruit? The Beiur Halacha (335:5 s.v. Echad) writes that according to the Bet Yosef it’s only forbidden to collect into a basket or field utensil, but it would be permissible to gather fruit into a pile, however the Gra argues that it’s only permissible to collect the fruit one at a time in order to eat it. Therefore, even though Ayil Meshulash (Siman 7, pg 174) held that it was Uvda DeChol to collect fruit scattered in a house, nonetheless, he concludes that in cases of need such as where having scattered fruit impairs Kavod Shabbat or isn’t presentable in front of guest one may collect the fruit in a pile, fruit drawer, or bag. Similarly, Orchot Shabbat (18:85, pg 509) holds that there’s an issue of Uvda DeChol gathering fruit even inside the house but permits sweeping them into a pile (and gives no explanation why the latter is permissible).
    • Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 26:24 writes that fruit which scattered in the house may be swept together and then picked up. It’s possible that he agrees with those who are lenient or that he holds that even if it’s an issue one may be lenient when gathering them in a pile and not a basket.
  8. Ayil Meshulash (Siman 7, pg 175), Halachos of Shabbos (Rabbi Shimon Eider, vol 1, pg 85)
  9. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:22 compares the case of pearls which fell and scattered to fruits that fell and scattered in a courtyard where they don’t grow (S”A 335:5) that there is an issue of Uvda DeChol unless they all fell in one place. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 5, pg 6) permits collecting the pearls because it’s not the place where they grew.
  10. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 308) explains that there is a prohibition of Me’amer in consolidating diamonds or natural gems because they occur naturally on earth, he also mentions that it may violate Makeh BePatish. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 5, pg 6) agrees.
  11. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 313, note 42) explains that gathering flowers for a useful purpose such as a bouquet is an issue of Me’amer (as well as Makeh BePatish), however, he notes Igrot Moshe 4:73 who is uncertain that it involves Me’amer but would agree that it involves Metaken.
  12. S”A 340:9 rules that gathering salt in a salt deposit is forbidden rabbinically because it looks like gathering things which grew from the ground. Mishna Brurah 340:36 explains that it’s not biblically prohibited because salt doesn’t grow from the ground. Similarly, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:39 forbids collecting shells off the beach.
  13. Ayil Meshulash (Siman 7, pg 174) explains that there’s no prohibition of Me’amer nor Uvda DeChol collecting siddur in a shul or toys on the floor. Halachos of Shabbos (Rabbi Eider, vol 1, pg 85) and Practical Halachos of Shabbos (pg 25) agree. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 2, pg 391) agrees that it doesn’t involve Me’amer but holds that it’s preferable not to touch the toys by hand because of Muktzeh.
  14. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 2, pg 307)
  15. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 5, pg 7), Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's comment on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:10. Menuchat Ahava (vol 2, 5:6) extends it even to nuts. Rabbi Mansour on Dailyhalacha.com agrees.