Sunday, January 11, 2009

Parshas VaYichi:Snow onShabbos

It snowed in my hometown this Shabbos and I would like to take credit for it. Early last week I couldn't figure out what to talk about this Shabbos. Then I noticed a few posts discussing snow and shoveling snow on Shabbos. I had briefly looked into it a few years ago and I figured I might as well talk about it this week even though there was no connection to the parsha. Then, on Shabbos it snowed and I had my connection. It must have been hashgacha that caused it to snow just so my shiur would be inyanei d'yoma. (and for all you rationalists out there, yes I know the Rambam's shitta on hashgacha). After opening shiur with the above remarks, one of the people in the shiur told me that maybe I should have spoken about Moshiach. I guess there is always next week. anyway,onto the shiur.

I already wrote about it over here , but I will repost it with some additional he'aras.

Is Snow Muktzeh?

Most poskim hold snow that fell before Shabbos is not muktzeh. If it fell on Shabbos, then there is a question of nolad.

1) The Pri Megadim says that rain is nolad. According to this snow should also be nolad.

2) The Minchas Shabbos and other achronim ask on the Pri Megadim that this is against a gemara mefureshes. The gemara in Eiruvin 46b concludes that rain is not nolad because it is contained in clouds. The clouds act as a container that holds the rain and the rain is in existance before Shabbos. The Mishna Berura paskens this way in Siman 338.

Based on this, most poskim that I saw learn that snow is also not nolad. This includes the Be'er Moshe (chelek 1 siman 20) and the Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchaso (SSK) in Perek 15.

The SSK does bring an interesting question from Rav Shlomo Zalman zt"l in Perek 10 (where he discusses the issue of making ice). Rav Shlomo Zalman asks that even if rain is not nolad, the snow is not formed until after it leaves the clouds. Therefore, why isn't snow nolad? He answers that if item A turns into item B and item B is worse than item A, there is no issur of nolad. Since snow is worse than rain, there is no nolad. I can't say I fully understand this sevara but ayim sham where he discusses this at length.

3) Rabbi Bodner in his muktzah book quotes Rav Moshe zt"l that snow is nolad and also muktzeh machmas gufo because it is not used by anyone. Therefore, even if snow fell before Shabbos it is muktzeh.

When it comes to shoveling snow, muktzeh should not be a factor in determing if you can shovel snow. Even if you hold snow is muktzeh, you can move muktzeh that will cause harm. If the snow will cause people to slip you would be allowed to move it.

Shittas Lev Avraham (Siman 49)

The Lev Avraham is one poseik who I saw is machmir on this issue and he brings three reasons to assur shoveling snow.

a) Tircha

There is a halacha in Shulchan Aruch (siman 333) that one is not allowed to clean out your storehouse on Shabbos because it involves tircha. The Lev Avraham says that shoveling snow would violate this issur.

My only question on this is what exactly is the geder of Tircha? It seems that according to this halacha one would not be allowed to move tables and chairs on Shabbos either. Rabbi Ribiat in his sefer addresses this issue and he wants to say that the issur of tircha only applies to actions that are not part of day to day activity. Therefore, since people will move tables and chairs when necessary, it is considered a daily activity and not subject to this issur. Cleaning out a warehouse is not done everyday and therefore it is assur.

According to this hagdara maybe one can argue that shoveling snow is not tircha. Granted we don't do it everyday but that is only because it doesn't snow everyday. If it snowed everyday, maybe it would be a daily activity and be comparable to moving tables and chairs.

Uvda D'Chol

The Lev Avraham also writes that shoveling snow is uvda d'chol.

My question on this is what makes it uvda d'chol. I would not call snow shoveling an activity that you would only do during the week. You shovel when snow falls, regardless of when it happens. However, I did see the Mishna Berura writes that playing chess with a set you use during the week is uvda d'chol, and therefore, you should have a set used exclusively for Shabbos. According to this maybe snow shoveling would also be uvda d'chol. I think one would first have to define the geder of u'vda d'chol and see if shoveling snow fits into that geder. (obviouslly, the Lev Avraham felt it did)

Mashva Gumos

The 3rd reason to assur it is that by shoveling snow you might come to level the ground (ayin siman 337). Even if the ground is paved we are still gozeir because you might do it on a dirt floor.
The problem with this reason is that the Biur Halacha points out if most of the city's streets are paved, this gezeirah doesn't apply. The Machzeh Eliyahu (siman 68) asks this question and says that this reason would not apply.

Bottom Line

I only saw a few poskim discuss this issue. The Nishmas Shabbos was meikil when there is hezek d'rabbim. However, I don't have the volume where he discusses his reasoning so I don't know what he does about the tircha or uvda d'chol issue.

The Lev Avraham as mentioned was machmir. The Machzeh Eliyahu was also machmir based on the reasons of the Lev Avraham.

Rabbi Frand has a tape on it which I was able to download from his website. I believe he concludes that b'sha'as hadchak if it is a real tzorech you can be meikil and shovel.

I didn't address the Har Tzvi, which I mentioned over here .

The other 2 issues are having a non-Jew do it for you and putting down salt. In both these cases even the machmirim are matir it. I'll try and discuss it later.

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