Halacha for Wednesday 15 Cheshvan 5780 November 13 2019

Setting a Trap on Shabbat

Question: May one set a trap for animals when the trap continues to operate on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that one of the thirty-nine works forbidden on Shabbat is trapping. This means that if one traps a living creature on Shabbat, one is liable for Shabbat desecration. Similarly, if one kills any living creature on Shabbat, one is likewise liable for the Torah prohibition of Shabbat desecration.

Setting a Trap on Shabbat
Clearly, if one sets a trap on Shabbat and immediately thereafter, an animal is trapped in it, one is certainly liable for the Torah prohibition of trapping on Shabbat, for there is no distinction if one traps an animal by hand or using a vessel or another utensil.

However, if one sets a trap on Shabbat and only at a later time is the animal trapped, one is not liable for the Torah prohibition of trapping on Shabbat since this does not entail a direct work which the Torah has forbidden; rather, this forbidden work is only resulting indirectly, for the trap only carries out its function at a later time, i.e. when the animal enters the trap.

Nevertheless, the Tosafot (Shabbat 17b) write that our Sages have enacted that one may not lay a trap for animals, birds, or fish on Shabbat out of concern that an animal might be caught in it immediately when one lays it, causing one to transgress a Torah prohibition. (There are other reasons to prohibit this as well.) Based on this, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 252, Section 1) forbids setting a trap for any kind of living creature on Shabbat.

It is therefore forbidden to trap wildlife on Shabbat using any kind of traps on Shabbat.

Setting a Trap on Erev Shabbat
Nonetheless, if one lays the trap before the onset of Shabbat, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) rules that this is indeed permissible, for our Sages permitted one to begin a forbidden work before the onset of Shabbat even if it will be completed on its own on Shabbat. It is therefore permissible to soak clothing in water on Erev Shabbat although the garment will continue to be laundered throughout Shabbat, in addition to several other examples.

Summary: One may set a trap before the onset of Shabbat even if animals will be trapped in it on Shabbat. It is nevertheless forbidden to do so on Shabbat. In the next Halacha, we shall, G-d-willing, discuss the law regarding mouse traps and traps for other harmful insects on Shabbat.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

Reciting The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Fragrant Objects

Question: Should one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a fragrant object which renews itself yearly? Answer: The root of this question is based on what we rule that regarding any fruit which renews itself yearly, such as berries and pomegranates, before partaking of that fruit for......

Read Halacha


Measuring for the Purpose of a Mitzvah

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that our Sages have prohibited any kind of measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov. For instance, one may not weigh various foods items or beverages on Shabbat. Although the scale is mechanical and not electronic, this is likewise a rabbinic prohibition. Measurin......

Read Halacha

Walking on Grass and Climbing a Tree on Shabbat

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is reaping. Included in this prohibition is detaching anything that grows from the ground, whether with regards to wheat and barley or anything else which grows from the earth. The Prohibition to Climb a Tree on ......

Read Halacha

Measuring on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Question: On Yom Tov when cooking is permissible, may one use a mechanical scale (not an electronic one) to weigh the ingredients one needs for cooking? Answer: Our Sages prohibited measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for this is considered a “mundane act”, i.e. an action performed speci......

Read Halacha

Question: May one set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat?

Answer: It would seem to be prohibited to set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat based on the Baraita (Shabbat 18a) which states, “One may not place wheat into a water-operated mill (before Shabbat) in order for the wheat to be ground on Shabbat.” Although no forbidden work is being per......

Read Halacha