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.)

8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing Upon Seeing a Dear Friend or Loved One

Question: If one travels overseas, returns home more than thirty days later, and is happy to see his wife or a dear friend when he returns, must one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees his frie......

Read Halacha

The “Mechaye Ha’Metim” Blessing

In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who sees a truly dear friend or relative after thirty days f not seeing him and is happy to see him recites the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing him. The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who se......

Read Halacha

Disassembling Doors and Windows on Shabbat

Question: May one remove a door from its hinges or a window from its frame on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is building. However, just as it is forbidden to build something or add anything to a standing edifice on Shabbat, it......

Read Halacha

Giving Birth on Shabbat

Question: If a pregnant woman knows that there is a reasonable chance that she will be giving birth on Shabbat (for instance, if her due date is on Shabbat) and as a result, if she begins experiencing contractions on Shabbat, Shabbat will have to be desecrated on her behalf by travelling to the hosp......

Read Halacha


The Forbidden Work of Building on Shabbat

Question: May one sweep the dirt and small rocks in the front yard of one’s home on Shabbat? Answer: One of the thirty-nine forbidden works on Shabbat is building, as the Mishnah (Shabbat 102b) states, “One who builds on Shabbat, even if it is a small addition to an existing edifice, ......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding Eggs or Garlic that were Left Peeled Overnight

Things Forbidden Because of the Danger they Pose The Gemara (Niddah 17a) states in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that if one does any one of five specific things, one takes his life into his own hands (meaning that one is endangering himself). One of these things is eating an egg, garlic, or ......

Read Halacha

Tu Bishvat Customs

Tonight, Sunday night, marks Tu Bishvat. There are unique customs observed on the night of Tu Bishvat, as we shall explain. The Prohibition of Fasting and the Customary Reading of the Zohar It is forbidden to fast on the day of Tu Bishvat. Some customarily hold an order of learning on the eve of......

Read Halacha

Baby Monitors on Shabbat

Question: May one place a baby monitor (intercom) in a baby’s room on Shabbat in order to be able to hear if the baby cries and to be able to adequately care for his/her needs? Answer: At first glance, it would seem that the baby monitor is similar in the way it works to a microphone which ......

Read Halacha