Halacha for Tuesday 21 Cheshvan 5780 November 19 2019

Spraying Poisons Against Pests on Shabbat- The Bottom Line

A Synopsis of What We Have Learned Thus Far
Yesterday, we have explained that one may place an animal onto grass on Shabbat in order to let it graze there. Although the animal will be detaching grass from the ground, since this action is not connected to the individual at all, it is permissible.

The Poskim explain this matter two different ways. The Even Ha’Ozer writes that the primary factor regarding the laws of Shabbat is one’s intention. Thus, since the individual placing the animal on the grass does not intend for the actual forbidden work of detaching grass to come about; rather, one only wishes for the animal to eat. Thus, this forbidden work has no correlation to the individual.

On the other hand, the Bet Meir explains that the determining factor regarding the laws of Shabbat is the performance of the forbidden work through the individual’s toil. However, we are not concerned about a forbidden work that is performed on its own without the individual’s participation (although it is forbidden for one to have work done for him on Shabbat through an animal).

The Connection to Our Scenario
Let is now discuss the association between the above and our case. According to the Even Ha’Ozer who writes that the Torah is concerned about the individual’s intent while the forbidden work is being performed, it would be forbidden to put out or spray poison against pests on Shabbat since one’s intention is to kill these pests, which is a forbidden work on Shabbat.

According to the Bet Meir, on the other hand, who writes that as long as the individual is not performing the forbidden work on his own on Shabbat, there is no prohibition, it will be permissible to put out poison on Shabbat, for the pests will come to eat it on their own and die.

Halachically speaking, after deeply analyzing the words of the Poskim regarding this law, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that one may put out poison against mice and other pests on Shabbat in order for these pests to eat the poison and die. However, spraying poison directly onto pests is certainly forbidden on Shabbat.

It is therefore permissible to spray poison against pests as long as they have a way to escape (i.e. if the window is open) and one does not spray it directly on them since it is not certain that they will die as a result. However, spraying directly on them which will certainly kill them is forbidden on Shabbat. (See Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 3, Chapter 20 and Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 5, page 112 and on.)

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

Honoring One’s Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law

The Yalkut Shimoni states: “David told Shaul, ‘My father, you shall surely see the corner of your coat in my hand’” (which means that David called Shaul his father). Our Sages derived from here that one is obligated to honor one’s father-in-law just as one is obligated ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

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. Similarly, if one, G-d-forbid, loses a son, daughter, brother, or sister, one should recite Kaddis......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Honoring Parents After Their Passing

Just as one is obligated to honor one’s parents during their lifetime, one is likewise obligated to honor one’s parents after their passing. One may certainly not disrespect one’s parents after their death. The Baraita (Kiddushin 31b) states: “Whenever one mentions a Torah......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Rising Before One’s Father or Rabbi- Maran zt”l’s Response to his Grandson

All of the laws of honoring and revering one’s parents apply equally to both a son and daughter. When we sometimes focus on a father and son or a mother and daughter, this is meant as a mere example and illustration. When one sees one’s parents passing in front of him, one must rise b......

Read Halacha

Who Must Bear the Financial Burden of Caring for One’s Parents?

We have discussed previously that part of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is serving one’s parents food and drink as they wish. Included in this is that when one’s parents are elderly and can no longer care for themselves, their sons and daughters must care for their physical......

Read Halacha

A Father Who Absolves His Son from Honoring and Revering Him

The following discussion is crucial to understanding important laws regarding honoring one’s parents. In the previous Halachot, we have discussed some laws pertaining to honoring and revering one’s parents. There are certain laws that relate to a child’s obligation to honor his ......

Read Halacha

Calling One’s Father or Mother by Name

Question: May one call one’s father by his first name? Also, may one call a friend with the same name as one’s father by his first name? Answer: A child may not call his father or mother by their first name. For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Shmuel,” the......

Read Halacha