Halacha for Thursday 8 Tammuz 5779 July 11 2019

Opening a Faucet and Soaking Seeds in Water on Shabbat

Soaking Seeds on Shabbat
We have been asked regarding people who have a pet parrot at home and they must soak different kinds of seeds in order to feed them to the parrot. Is this permissible on Shabbat or not?

At first glance, it would seem that this should be prohibited based on what the Rambam writes (Chapter 8 of Hilchot Shabbat) that if one soaks wheat or barley kernels on Shabbat, he is liable for transgressing the forbidden work of planting. Nevertheless, in truth, this is only prohibited when one soaks the seeds for several hours until they are soft and ready for planting. However, if one soaks them for only an hour or two and immediately places them before the birds, this is not prohibited. Maran zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat Part 4, page 17. We have written this several years ago in the Halacha Yomit.

Nevertheless, we must add that in general, the owners of parrots and other birds usually intend for the seeds to sprout completely in which case all Poskim agree this is forbidden. Additionally, this only applies to wheat or barley seeds; however, regarding sesame or flax seeds which immediately upon becoming wet stick to one another, it is forbidden to soak them in water on Shabbat because of the prohibition of kneading (see Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 340, Section 12). In general, seed mixes meant for parrots and other exotic birds include seeds that stick together like flax seeds and there is a Torah prohibition of soaking them in water on Shabbat.

Opening a Faucet When the Water Will Eventually Flow to the Garden
The Poskim discuss a scenario where there is a sink where people wash their hands and the water that enters the drain flows through a pipe and eventually spills out onto a patch of earth where plants are growing. Is one permitted to use such a sink on Shabbat or does this constitute the forbidden work of “planting”?

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l addresses this issue in several places (Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 27, Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat Part 1, page 135, and Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat Part 4, page 10) and concludes that according to the letter of the law, one may act leniently and use such a sink on Shabbat when one intends to wash one’s hands and not to water the plants.

His reason for this leniency is because the pouring of the water is not being done directly by the individual; rather, this is being done in an indirect fashion, for the water is first poured into the sink and it then flows on its own until it reaches the ground. This cannot be considered a direct watering like one who waters plants with a hose and aims the water directly towards the ground. Since the individual’s intention is not to water plants at all and only wishes to wash his hands, at the very worst, this only constitutes a rabbinic prohibition and when one does not have in mind to perform the forbidden action at all, this does not constitute any prohibition whatsoever. Maran zt”l quotes many sources to support his opinion and writes that the Chatam Sofer and other great Poskim rule likewise.

Nevertheless, clearly, one may only be lenient to use such a sink when one has no intention of watering the garden and is only using it to wash one’s hands and the like. However, if one is doing so in order to water one’s garden, this will be prohibited on Shabbat.

Summary: Regarding a sink whose pipes lead the water poured into it onto earth where plants are growing, one may use such a sink on Shabbat as long as one intends only to wash one’s hands and not to water the plants.

One may not soak seeds in water on Shabbat unless one is doing so for a short period of time, such as for an hour or two, in order to feed them to a bird or animal in one’s possession. Nevertheless, seeds which stick together immediately upon becoming wet, such as sesame or flax seeds, may not be soaked in water at all.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

“Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (The Twelfth Blessing of the Amida)

Question: In the Blessing regarding the heretics in the daily Amida prayer, how should one end the twelfth blessing: “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (He who smashes enemies and humbles the wicked) or “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Minim” (He who smashes enemies and humb......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha


How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah. The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a ......

Read Halacha

Deceit and Trickery

One may not deceive or trick others when it comes to monetary transactions. Monetary Deceit If one knows that one’s merchandise is flawed or faulty, one must reveal this to the buyer. For instance, if one wishes to sell his home and he knows that the ceiling is full of mold because of a bu......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha