MBY 317:1-7 Knots and loops (abridged – part 2 - final)
Please review our last lesson before reading this one…
The Shulchan Aruch (Rav Yosef Karo, the ‘Mechaber’) rules in accordance with the Rambam and Ri”f’ interpretation – both its stringency and its leniency. The Rama (Rav Moshe Isserles) appears at first to rule straight according to the Rashi and Rosh interpretation, but in the end of his words, his conclusion is to adopt the stringencies of both.
Therefore: If a knot is either long-term (according to the stricter interpretation of more than 24 hours) OR it professional, it is prohibited (at least mid’rabanan - rabbinic prohibition.) The Rama also adds a sweeping statement: Since we are not expert enough to differentiate between the professional and amateur knots of Talmudic times, we must be strict and consider any knot which is tight and durable to be a professional knot! Practically, then, the only type of knot that is permissible to tie on Shabbos is a loose knot which is not intended to remain for 24-hours, OR something which is “not a knot”, in which case, it could be tied even for 24 hours or more.
“Not a knot”?!
A bow-knot is a knot; a slip-knot is not! Rabbi Ribiat (The 39 Melachos, vol. III, pp. 795-796) explains the difference between the two as follows: “A slip-knot (called an ‘anivah’) is not a halachic knot and may be made on Shabbos even if tight and meant to remain permanently. This is because a slip-knot is so designed as to make it possible to undo the knot without reversing the original process that created the knot… A bow-knot, such as the type used to tie one’s shoes, is actually a kind of slip-knot formed over a single knot. The halachic term for this is ‘anivah al gabei kesher’ (lit. a bow on top of a knot.) A bow-knot differs from a slip-knot in that it is formed out of the beginnings of a true ‘kesher’ (knot). The two laces are wound once around each other before the loops are formed and bound. The initial winding of the two laces is actually a rudimentary kesher. Making this rudimentary kesher by itself would be completely permitted, as it cannot hold for any length of time. However, with the formation of a bow-knot, the entire knot system becomes firm and lasting. Hence, the formation of the bow-knot causes the initial rudimentary knot to evolve into a type of semi-permanent knot which may not be made on a permanent basis. Therefore, one is permitted to make a bow-knot only if it is made to be undone within 24 hours.” (Ed. I admit, the logic here is hairsplitting and difficult!)
Tying/untying shoes. A regular bow may be made (common because it is not durable, as it can be released easily) if it will be untied within 24 hours. Another knot over the bow may not be made, because that becomes professional.
Tying/untying a necktie. Some poskim (authorities) consider a standard tie to be a slip-knot, and according to them, it may be tied even if one does not intend to untie it on Shabbos (i.e. but rather loosen it and slip it off his head). According to other poskim, it is not a standard slip-knot, and therefore may not be tied for 24 hours, but for less it can, because it surely is not professional.