Halacha for Thursday 16 Cheshvan 5780 November 14 2019

Laying a Mouse Trap on Shabbat

Question: May one lay a mouse trap on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed that one of the forbidden works on Shabbat is trapping; one who traps an animal on Shabbat is liable for the Torah prohibition of Shabbat desecration. We have written that if one traps animals which are usually trapped, such as, birds, fowl, fish, and the like, one is liable by Torah law. If the creature is not of a species that is usually trapped, such as flies and mosquitos, the prohibition to trap them on Shabbat is only rabbinic.

If Trapping a Mouse is a Torah Prohibition
Regarding mice, the Mishnah (Shabbat 107a) states that one transgresses the Torah prohibition of trapping on Shabbat when trapping any one of the eight swarming creatures mentioned in the Torah (which include: A weasel, mouse, great lizard, gecko, land-crocodile, lizard, sand-lizard, and chameleon), for these creatures have skins and hides and people would commonly trap these creatures in order to make user of their skins. Thus, we see that trapping a mouse on Shabbat is a Torah prohibition.

The Opinions of the Magen Avraham and Maran zt”l
The Magen Avraham (Chapter 316, Subsection 9) writes that just as one is forbidden to set traps to trap any other animal on Shabbat, one may likewise not lay a mouse trap on Shabbat. Other great Acharonim rule likewise.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Part 5 (page 119) that if one traps mice in one’s home, one certainly has no intent to use any part of the mouse’s body and one is therefore not liable according to Torah law, for this can be considered “a work the direct outcome of which is not necessary” which is only considered a rabbinically forbidden work. He proceeds to quote the Geonim who rule likewise. After discussing the words of various Poskim, Maran zt”l concludes that it seems that there is no prohibition to lay mouse traps on Shabbat since the mouse is not trapped immediately and only after some time in addition to the fact that trapping mice is not a Torah prohibition. On the other hand, in his Responsa Yabia Omer (Volume 3, Chapter 20) he quotes the Tosafot and Rabbeinu Chaim Ohr Zarua who rules stringently on this matter and forbid setting any trap for any kind of animal on Shabbat. This includes trapping harmful mice on Shabbat and these opinions maintain that one may not place traps to catch them on Shabbat based on the edict of our Sages.

Thus, halachically speaking, it seems that one should act stringently and not lay mouse traps on Shabbat. However, to lay them before the onset of Shabbat is not prohibited whatsoever.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

Some Details Regarding the Prayers of the Days of Awe

Anyone who appreciates the loftiness of the Days of Awe customarily tries to recite all prayers of these days with much precision and care. There are many Machzorim on the market containing several versions for various texts, some which can be relied upon and others which cannot be relied upon at al......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles on Rosh Hashanah and the Issue this Year

The Laws of Candle-Lighting on Rosh Hashanah On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily light Yom Tov candles before the onset of Yom Tov similar to the way we light them on Erev Shabbat. If the candles were not lit before the onset of Yom Tov, a woman may even light the candles on Yom Tov i......

Read Halacha

Should One Cry on Rosh Hashanah?

Question: What is the proper way to behave during the prayers of Rosh Hashanah: Should one arouse himself to cry during the prayers in order for Hashem to pity us and grant us all of our requests or should one pray amid great joy? Answer: The Mitzvah to be Glad on Rosh Hashanah The Poskim deli......

Read Halacha


Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Custom of Kaparot and the Custom of Maran zt”l

Question: Should one fulfill the custom of Kaparot specifically using chickens or should one merely use money? Answer: It is customary among all Jewish communities to perform Kaparot on Erev Yom Kippur by slaughtering chickens for every member of one’s household. It is customary to use a ro......

Read Halacha

Preparing for the Day of Judgment

During the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, every single member of the Jewish nation must contemplate his/her actions and perform some sort of self-introspection in order to ascertain how one can improve one’s actions and Mitzvah observance so as to guarantee one’s self powerful defenders o......

Read Halacha