Halacha for Tuesday 15 Iyar 5781 April 27 2021

Inflating a Pillow or Air Mattress on Shabbat

Question: May one inflate a rubber air mattress with a non-electric pump or by mouth on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 48a) states that one may not stuff a pillow with cotton or feathers on Shabbat. This means that if one has a bag of feathers as well as a pocket-like cloth (the pillow cover), the feathers may not be placed into the pillow cover on Shabbat, for this constitutes the prohibition of “repairing a vessel” on Shabbat.

The Gemara continues and states that Rav Chasda allowed stuffing a pillow with feathers on Shabbat. The Gemara explains that there is a difference between an “old” pillow and a “new” pillow. Regarding a brand new pillow which never contained feathers before, placing feathers into the pillow constitutes the prohibition of “repairing a vessel” on Shabbat, for until now, no pillow existed and now, after the individual’s actions, a usable pillow was created. On the other hand, regarding an “old”, pre-existing pillow which already contained feathers and some of its contents merely fell out, one may return the feathers into the pillow on Shabbat.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 340, Section 8) rules likewise: “Pieces of cotton and the like which fell out of a pillow may be returned on Shabbat. Nevertheless, it is forbidden to stuff a pillow for the first time on Shabbat.” This is based on the above distinction between a new and old pillow.

Based on the above, the Poskim discuss the law regarding inflatable mattresses or pillows made of rubber (or plastic or other synthetic materials) which were inflated once before the onset of Shabbat and over the course of Shabbat, it has lost some air. Is it permissible to re-inflate these objects on Shabbat or not?

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 5, page 342) that an inflatable pillow is comparable to the law regarding the pillow discussed in the Gemara and thus, as long as it was inflated once and worthy for use as a result, re-inflating it will not constitute a prohibition of “repairing a vessel” on Shabbat and will be permissible. He writes that Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and other great Poskim rule likewise.

Although Hagaon Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l ruled stringently on this matter because the act of inflating is a mundane action reserved only for weekdays and thus should not be performed on Shabbat, nevertheless Maran zt”l rebuffs his opinion based on the words of the Rambam in his response (Chapter 64) “that it is clear to anyone who understands that you shall never find anything forbidden as a result of being a ‘mundane action’ if it is not an action that can lead people to perform an actual forbidden work.” Maran zt”l quotes other Poskim who discuss this matter and therefore rules leniently on this matter as we have written above.

Summary: One may not inflate a plastic or rubber air mattress or pillow on Shabbat. Nevertheless, if these objects were already inflated before the onset of Shabbat and during the course of Shabbat lost some air pressure, they may be re-inflated on Shabbat.

Ask the Rabbi


הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha


Question: Is one permitted to eat fish with milk or butter?

Answer: The Mishnah in Masechet Chullin (103b) states: “Any meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, besides for the flesh of fish and grasshoppers.” Clearly then, according to the letter of the law, the prohibition of cooking fish with milk is not included in the prohibition of cooking......

Read Halacha

Foods Cooked by a Non-Jew

Question: We currently employ non-Jewish help in our home. She helps with things around the house including cooking our food. All of the ingredients which enter the house are kosher and we supervise her while she is cooking, such that there is no Kashrut concern with the food. May we eat the food sh......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat for the Room to Look Clean and Orderly

Question: May one make a bed on Shabbat so that it looks neat although one does not intend to sleep in it on Shabbat? Similarly, is it permissible to wash dishes which are no longer necessary on Shabbat because it is truly unpleasant and causes discomfort due to guests and the like? Answer: Appro......

Read Halacha

Coffee Prepared by a Non-Jew

Question: Is it permissible to drink coffee which was prepared by a non-Jew, such as the coffee served during flights aboard non-Jewish airlines, or does this constitute the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew or any other prohibition? Answer: Clearly, the coffee sold in many places where n......

Read Halacha