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Removing and replacing doors and other Rabbinic prohibitions
Dedicated with gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu on the occasion of our 40th wedding anniversary!

By Mr. Jay and Mrs. Leah Starkman

29 Av 5773 / August 5, 2013

MBY 519:1-5 Removing and replacing doors and other Rabbinic prohibitions

Intro: We are well aware by now of the general permissibility on Yom Tov of certain Torah-defined melachos for the sake of ‘ochel nefesh’. What is the rule for Rabbinically-prohibited actions? This is an important question, because even where a melacha is not permitted, a similar Rabbinically-prohibited action may be, as the Rabbis relaxed certain decrees for the sake of Simchas (joy of) Yom Tov. In order to apply the principles of this siman, one must be able to: 1) Identify whether an act is prohibited by Torah law or by Rabbinic decree, 2) If by Torah law, determine whether or not it is permitted under the ‘ochel nefesh’ category or its extension, and 3) If by Rabbinic decree, determine whether or not the halacha relaxes that particular act for Simchas Yom Tov. Will we be able to make these determinations in all cases? Surely not! But in this lesson, let us witness some examples of how it works!

In the halachos of Shabbos, much is written about the removal and replacement of doors and shutters to buildings, closets and chests which were common in olden times, whose doors were often mounted with pins or slid into grooves. The following distinction is made: When dealing with the doors of a structure that is built into the ground (Heb. ‘karka’ – e.g. a building or shed), the Torah melachos of ‘boneh’/building and ‘sossair’/demolishing apply. However, when dealing with a movable structure – e.g. chest, push-cart or kiosk – only a Rabbinic prohibition is implicated. The Torah does not prohibit ‘binyan’ (building) or ‘s’tira’ (demolishing) of ‘keilim’ (vessels) per se. The Rabbis were just concerned that when assembling and dismantling movable parts of ‘keilim’, a person may do an act akin to completing a new vessel, thus violating a different melacha, namely ‘makeh b’patish’/final hammer blow, and consequently, they prohibited various types of assembly of ‘keilim’ on Shabbos.

So how do these halachos translate to Yom Tov? For ‘karka’, as ‘boneh’ and ‘sossair’ do not fit into the ‘ochel nefesh’ permit, they are prohibited on Yom Tov the same as Shabbos. For ‘keilim’, the Rabbis relaxed their decree against removing and replacing doors of the chests etc. in certain ways. Likewise, they permitted the assembly of candelabra and table and chairs in many cases, as they deemed these acts vital for Simchas Yom Tov. They did not, however, permit other things like breaking seals and ropes, or trimming cut branches on Yom Tov any more than they permitted them on Shabbos.

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