Putting up a roofing/hovering for protection purposes

Important Note: The following law only relates to a flat roofing/hovering[1]. It does not relate to making slanted roofing, such as a tent, which its law will be discussed in Halacha 3!  

 

A. To initially open a hovering on Shabbos:[2]

The law: It is forbidden to make a tent, which refers to [any] roofing which hovers over a person in order to guard him from a given matter, such as [to protect him] from the sun or from the rain or from another given matter.

The prohibition applies even by a temporary tent which has no walls: [This applies] even if [the roof] is temporary [meaning] that it is not made to last and even if there are not any walls under it, such as is the case with one who spreads a mat over four poles. Nevertheless since it is made in order to tent and protect it is [therefore considered] a complete tent and the Sages prohibited it even though it is [only] temporary due to a decree [that one may come to make] a permanent tent which is an offshoot of [the] building [prohibition].

What is the minimum amount of space that a roofing must hover over to be prohibited?[3] Any tent which does not have the space of a handbreadth [under it] is not considered a tent at all [and is thus permitted to be made].

Making a tent to prevent pain:[4] The [Sages] permitted to make a temporary tent [if needed in order to reduce] the pain of a live person and not for the pain of corpse. [See footnote[5]]

 

B. To further open a hovering that was opened from before Shabbos:[6]

Adding to a temporary tent that was made before Shabbos: The [Sages] only forbade to initially [make a tent] on Shabbos, however if a temporary tent had been made from before Shabbos then it is permitted to add to it on Shabbos, such as for example if the mat was spread out from before Shabbos a handbreadths worth, which is the measurement required for [a roofing item to be] considered a tent, then it is permitted to open it completely on Shabbos and to add more mats to it, as all this is only adding to the handbreadth tent which was made the day before. [Furthermore] even to spread it over walls is allowed in this case.

Is the rolled up material included in the handbreadth? This measurement of a handbreadth that was mentioned does not include the rolled material, meaning that even if it was rolled up and placed [on walls] from before Shabbos and there is in the thickness of the circumference of the rolled material the amount of a handbreadth and more, nevertheless there needs to be coming out of [this roll] a handbreadths worth of material spread out for tenting.

The reason for this is: because the circumference of the rolled material does not appear like a tent at all.

Panels of a hovering within three handbreadths of each other:[7] [A hovering which had its panels set up before Shabbos then] even if none of [the rods] have a one handbreadth width, if they are within three handbreadths of each other then they are considered a tent, as [all items] within three handbreadths [of each other] are considered connected, and it is thus permitted to spread on them mats on Shabbos. [See Q&A]

The allowance to add a temporary roofing to an already existing roof only applies if it is not common to set it there permanently[8]: The Sages were only lenient to allow one to add to a temporary tent in a case that it is not usual at all to permanently leave it the way that it has been spread, such as by spreading mats over poles or on the ship as written above [in Halacha 2 and 8] as [by these cases] it is not usual at all to permanently leave the mats there the way they have been spread on Shabbos, and the same applies for all similar cases [that it is not usual to permanently spread a roofing there that it is permitted to be added to on Shabbos].

 

C. Examples:

Placing mats over the frames of a roof:[9]

Wood [rods] which have one end inserted into the wall of a ship and its other end is bent into a dome form until it reaches the other wall [of the ship], and it then has mats spread over them to provide protection from the sun or rain, then if the wood [rods] have a width of a handbreadth, even in only one of the rods[10]  then it is permitted to spread mats over them on Shabbos being that by doing so one is only adding on to a temporary tent which was made before Shabbos.

Spreading a roof over rods that are within three handbreadths of each other: Furthermore even if none of [the rods] have a one handbreadth width, if they are within three handbreadths of each other then they are considered a tent, as [all items] within three handbreadths [of each other] are considered connected, and it is thus permitted to spread on them mats on Shabbos.

 

 Spreading a sheet over a baby’s crib: [11] 

Similarly a baby’s crib which has metal panels [over its top] and one [wants] to spread sheets over it to protect [the child] from flies, then if the panels are positioned as explained [meaning are a Tefach wide, or are within three handbreadths of each other] then it is allowed to spread a sheet on them on Shabbos. [However] if [it is] not [positioned this way] then it is forbidden.  [See Q&A regarding spreading a netting over a crib]

 

Making a tent over the corpse to protect it from the sun:[12]

A corpse which is in the sun and there is no other place to be move it to, or [there is but] they do not want to move it from its place, then it is permitted to build over it a temporary tent through deception [initially making it seem that it is being done] for the need of the living.

How it may be done: This is done as follows: Two people come along and sit on the two sides [of the corpse, one on each side], on top of the ground. [When it gets] hot for them below [on the ground] due to the heat of the ground that the sun heated, then [in a private domain] each person brings his bed there and sits on it[13]. [When] it gets hot for them above, each one brings a mat and spreads it over the bed for shade[14]. [Afterwards, they both may depart], each one overturns their beds, and removes them[15]. In this manner, the division [needed for shade] is created on its own accord, [as it were], for the two mats are back to back near each other and their two ends are located on the ground on either side of the corpse[16].

The reason why one may not initially spread the mat over the body is because:  The [Sages only] permitted to make a temporary tent [if needed in order to reduce] the pain of a live person and not for the pain of corpse[17]. Therefore they required [people] to initially come sit [by either side of the corpse] until they are [too] hot below [sitting on the ground], in which case they may then bring beds to sit on.

[Now], even though the beds have no use at all in making the tent, [nevertheless they are brought] so that it appear that the spreading of the mats are not being done in order to make a tent over the corpse by attaching both [mats] together[18], but rather [the mats are being brought] in order so each one spread it over himself to shield him from the sun, [as by bringing out the beds one makes it evident that they are bothered by the heat] as [people see] that also when it was [too] hot for them from below [while on the ground] each one brought his bed and sat on them [so they say that the same applies here].

For this reason [too] they need to overturn and remove their beds from there and [thus consequently] position the spreading of the mats [over the floor] so that also here it should appear that the spreading of the mats was not done for the sake of the corpse but rather to shield themselves from the sun, as when it was [too] hot for them below they brought a bed and sat on it, and now when they have gotten up [and are ready to leave], they overturned it and brought it back.

 

Making oneself a toilet out from stones:[19]

Large stones which are organized to create a seat with a hole which one sits on in fields by the area designated to be used as a bathroom, is permitted to be organized on Shabbos, being that [doing so] is a temporary structure that is not made to last, and a temporary structure is only prohibited to [be made] Rabbinically, and due to respect of humanity they did not apply their decree [in this case].[20]

Nevertheless, to make a form of a tent with a roof is forbidden even though it is only a temporary tent. 

 

May one open or close the roofing of a Sukkah?[21]

If this [roof] door [i.e. the removable roofing of the Sukkah] has hinges with which it is opened and closed, then it is like a complete opening and is permitted to open and close it on Shabbos and Yom Tov and doing so does not contain the Building or destroying prohibition.[22] [However if there is a Tefach between the roofing and the Sechach then it is forbidden due to the Ohel prohibition.[23]]

 

Summary: Hoverings made for protection

To initially set up:

It is always forbidden to initially set up a roofing on Shabbos for protection purposes even if there are no walls under the roofing.

If the roofing is made for permanent use then it is Biblically prohibited. If made for only temporary use then it is Rabbinically forbidden.

Examples: One may not initially spread a sheet over a baby carriage.[24]

What is the minimum amount of space that a roofing must hover over to be prohibited?[25] One handbreadth. If it does not have a handbreadth of empty space under it then it is completely permitted.

May one set up a temporary roofing in order to prevent pain? “The Sages permitted to make a temporary tent if needed in order to reduce the pain of a live person“.[26] However this only applies when one is making the tent with an irregularity, such as by holding it up with ones hands as opposed to supporting it on something.[27]

 

To add on to an already existing roofing:

One is allowed to add on to a previously made roofing on Shabbos if all the following conditions are fulfilled:

  1. The previously made roofing extends at least the width of a handbreadth from the area that the roofing is rolled up, or does not but the roofing has two bars within three handbreadths of each other set up before Shabbos, and they are the length of a handbreadth from one to the other.
  2. The currently added roofing is only being placed for temporary use.
  3. It is not common at all to have the added roofing remain there permanently.[28]

Regarding placing a sheet over a bar and the like to form a slanted roofing such as a tent-See Halacha 2!

 

Examples:

Making a tent over a corpse:[29] One is allowed to set up a tent over the corpse in order to shade it from the sun in the following way: Two people, each sitting on the side of the corpse after feeling hot on their bottom brings a bed and lays on it, then when they feel hot on their top they bring mats and place it over them, and then depart and move the beds, having the mats slip over the corpse, leaning on each other by their top, thus forming a tent over the corpse.

-May one open or close the roofing of a Sukkah?[30] This may be done if the roofing is resting within hinges and is thus opened and closed similar to a door, [and only if there is not a Tefach space between the roofing and the Sechach].

 

Q&A

May one hold up a hovering using his hands?[31]

Some opinions[32] rule that in all cases that making a tent is forbidden, it is forbidden to do so even when holding it up with ones hands, unless it is a case of pain as explained above.  However other opinions[33] hold that a hovering may be held up with ones hands if it has no walls underneath it.

 

Does roof netting have the same law as does a sheet?[34]

No. Netting which has more open space than actual cloth within the parameters of the netting is not considered a roofing and thus does not contain the Tent prohibition.[35]

 

May one on Shabbos set up non-Muktzah panels within three handbreadths of each other?[36]

If done without intent to spread a covering over them: Is allowed[37] but is questionable whether one is allowed to spread a sheet over them if he later changes his mind[38].

If done with intent to spread a covering over them:[39] Is forbidden, and if one went ahead and did so it remains prohibited to spread a covering over them.

 

Practical Q&A

May people hold open a sheet or a Tallis to grant shade or protection from rain?[40]

Some opinions[41] rule that it is forbidden. However other opinions[42] hold that a hovering may be held up with ones hands if it has no walls underneath it.

 

On Simchas Torah may people spread open a Tallis over the Chasan Torah and children by Kol Nearim?[43]

Yes. In this case it is permitted according to all opinions being that its intent is not protection but rather a sign of respect.[44]

 

May one open or close a rain umbrella on Shabbos?[45]

No. This matter is discussed extensively in the Poskim of previous generations[46]. The final ruling of this issue is that doing so is forbidden due to the Ohel prohibition[47], as well as due to it being a mundane act[48].

 

May one use an umbrella that was opened from before Shabbos? [49]

It is forbidden[50] to use an umbrella on Shabbos even if it was opened from before Shabbos, and even in an area which has an eiruv.

 

May one open a sun umbrella?[51]

Not attached to the ground: Is forbidden just like a rain umbrella.

Attached to the ground: Some Poskim[52] rule that it is permitted to be opened and closed, while others[53] prohibit this. It is implied from Admur[54] like the stringent opinion!

 

May one open or close a sun roof or roof window?[55]

Yes. One may do so according to all opinions[56].     

 

May one open or close an umbrella which extends past the roof of one’s house?[57]

Yes. One may do so according to all opinions[58].

 

May one place a netting over a crib or ones bed to protect it from insects?[59]

If the netting has more open space than actual cloth within its parameters then it is allowed.

 

May one open the hood of a baby carriage on Shabbos?[60]

If the hood was not attached to the carriage from before Shabbos[61]: Then even in cases that it is permitted to attach the hood, it is forbidden to be opened[62]. However there are Poskim[63] which are lenient[64].

If the hood was attached from before Shabbos but was not opened a handbreadths width: Some Poskim[65] rule that it is permitted as since the hood was already connected from before Shabbos to the stroller, it is no different than opening a door on its hinges, or a folding chair. Many other Poskim[66] however rule that it is forbidden to open or close it even if it was attached from before Shabbos being that in this case ones intent is in truth for a roofing protection, in contrast to a folding chair and the like. It is implied from Admur[67] like the stringent opinion!

If the hood was attached and opened a handbreadth from before Shabbos:[68] Then it is permitted to further open it and to close the part which was further opened.

 

May one spread a sun or rain cover over a baby carriage on Shabbos?

If the hood was not opened a handbreadths width from before Shabbos: Some Poskim[69] allow one to open the hood of the carriage and then add to it the covering as this is similar to adding to already made roofing.

Many other Poskim[70] however rule that it is forbidden to open the hood and thus according to them it would remain prohibited to place over the carriage a sun or rain cover.

If the hood was opened a handbreadth from before Shabbos: Then it is permitted to add a cover to it.

 

May one open an umbrella that is attached to a stroller from before Shabbos?[71]
Some opinions[72] hold that this matter is subject to the same dispute mentioned earlier regarding opening the hood of a stroller on Shabbos. Others[73] hold that in this case it would be forbidden even according to the previously mentioned lenient opinions.

 

May one form the plastic stroller covering into a tent over the floor from before Shabbos and place it on his stroller on Shabbos if need be?

Yes, however one must take caution not to fold the plastic on Shabbos after removing it. Rather he is to place it back into the tent position.[74]

 


[1] Such as a wedding canopy.

[2] 315/1

[3] 315/19

[4] 311/11

[5] However even this only applies when one is making the tent with an irregularity, such as by holding it up with ones hands as says here, as opposed to supporting it on something. [Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1]

[6] 315/2

[7] 315/8

[8] 315/17

[9] 315/8

[10] Meaning that at least two rods were placed in this position on the boat in order to spread the sheets over them thus forming a tent. Thus if one of these rods had a handbreadths worth, then it is allowed.

[11] 315/8

[12] 311/11

[13] Lit. This one brings his bed and sits on it, and this one brings his bed and sits on it

[14] Lit. This one brings his mat and spreads it on the bed, and this one brings his mat and spreads it on the bed

[15] Lit. This one brings overturns his bed and removes it, and this one overturns his bed and removes it.

[16] Thus forming a miniature tepee over the corpse.

[17] However even this only applies when one is making the tent with an irregularity, such as by holding it up with ones hands as says here, as opposed to supporting it on something. [Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1]

[18] Meaning by having them touch each other and form a tepee.

[19] 312/15

[20] Regarding the problem of Muktzah there are opinions that say that this is only referring to stones that have been designated before Shabbos to be used for this purpose. However others learn that even if not predestinated the Sages allowed one to move it. [Mishneh Berurah 25] [It seems from the Alter Rebbe like the latter as a) Why didn’t the Alter Rebbe mention the case is referring to designated stones, and b) if the stones were designated for this, then the structure made out from them is permanent not temporary.

[21] 626/20

[22] Why the closing of the awning does not pose an Ohel prohibition: It requires further analysis why one is allowed to open and close the awning of the Sukkah. Why does this action not contain a prohibition of Ohel? The Chazon Ish 52/6 rules the reason this scenario does not pose a prohibition of Ohel is because the hovering is attached to hinges and is it is thus considered like one is opening a folding chair. However this explanation is not acceptable according to Admur, as explained in Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 8 based on Admur 315/13, that Admur rules even hoverings that are attached to hinges may not be opened due to the Ohel prohibition. One can answer that the case here is discussing that there is not a Tefach of space between the awning and the Sechach and hence it is not considered an Ohel [as rules Admur in 640/10]. However it requires further analysis why Admur did not stipulate this into the case. Alternatively the reason why this specific Halacha does not discuss the Ohel prohibition is because it is discussing a case that the Sukkah was made inside a house and part of the ceiling has a window which is opened so the Schach be directly under the heavens. Opening this window does not pose an Ohel prohibition as one is allowed to add a temporary Ohel to an Ohel which was already extended a Tefach before Yom Tov/Shabbos, and in this case when one closes the window he is simply adding that hovering to the already existing ceiling. In conclusion the result of the above explanation in Admur is that if one built a Sukkah outside of his home and built an awning over it, this awning may only be opened and closed on Shabbos if there is not a Tefach of space between the awning and the Schach.

[23] See previous footnote.

[24] 315/8

[25] 315/19

[26] 311/11

[27] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1

[28] 315/17

[29] 311/11

[30] 626/20

[31] Piskeiy Teshuvos 315/8

[32] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1

[33] Tehilah Ledavid 315/9; Minchas Shabbos 80/224; Chazon Ish 54/60

[34] Piskeiy Teshuvah 315/1

[35] So rules Beir Moshe 6/97 and SSH”K 24/11 in name of Rav SZ”A.

[36] Piskeiy Teshuvah 315/4

[37] Rav Akivah Eiger being that we do not say Levud Lehachmir. 

Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol from Admur 626/14: “Even if the supports are within three handbreadths within each other, nevertheless we do not say the concept of Lavud, and therefore one may eat under the Kosher Schach. The reason that we do not say the concept of Lavud here is because this status is only given when there is no interval between the two items that are in proximity of three handbreadths. Thus here since the Schach intervenes the concept of Lavud does not apply.” This implies that if not for the kosher Schach having been there, we would say Levud even Lehachmir

[38] So rules Rav SZ”A  in SSH”K 24 footnote 40

[39] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 11

[40] Piskeiy Teshuvos 315/8

[41] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1

[42] Tehila Ledavid 315/9; Minchas Shabbos 80/224; Chazon Ish 54/60

[43] Piskeiy Teshuvos 315/8

[44] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 1

[45] SSH”K 24/15

[46] Opinions which prohibit it: Nodeh Beyehuda Tenyana 30 [he says it could be Biblically forbidden]; M”B in Biur Halacha “Tefach”; Mamar Mordechai; Chayeh Adam, Sharreiy Teshuvah; Ketzos Hashulchan 120/13; SSH”K 24/15.

Opinions which permit it: Chasam Sofer 72 rules that it involves no prohibition at all, and he rules that one may be lenient to have it opened by a gentile. Chazon Ish 52/6 rules it does not contain an Ohel prohibition but is not to be done because it is Uvdin Dechol. The reason behind those which claim that it does not contain an Ohel prohibition is because they say it is similar to a folding chair which was allowed. [Chazon Ish ibid; Noda Beyehudah ibid in name of Chacham Hamatir]

Opinion of Admur: Seemingly according to Admur it is clear that that it is forbidden to open or close an umbrella as all matters made for protection may not be spread due to the Ohel prohibition even if a) it hovers over a person and is moving [as we see clearly from Admur’s ruling by the hat case] and even if b) it was attached before Shabbos and only needs to be extended [as Admur depends the allowance of opening the folding chair because it is not made for protection]. Hence all the reasons of allowance brought by the questioner in Teshuvas Nodah Beyehudah are rejected by Admur, as does the Noda Beyehudah himself.

[47] All Poskim mention above rule it is forbidden due to creating an Ohel.

[48] Chazon Ish

[49] Ketzos Hashulchan 120/13; So rules also Chazon Ish 52/6 [brought in SSH”K 24/15] that it should not be done due to it being a belittling of Shabbos. 

[50] From SSH”K 24/15 it is implied that it should not be done but is not such a clear prohibition.

[51] SSH”K 24/15

[52] SSH”K 24/15 based on Chazon Ish 52/6

[53] See below “May one open the hood of a baby carriage on Shabbos” for the different opinions there and seemingly this dispute would apply here as well.

[54] 315/13 :Any temporary tent which one has no intention into making into a tent [the Sages] only prohibited spreading over walls which one [had already] set up under it on Shabbos if the roofing had not been attached on its walls from before Shabbos. However if [the roofing] had already been attached to them from before Shabbos but it was placed there folded, then it is permitted to spread it out and set it up on Shabbos.”

[55] SSH”K 24/15

[56] As it is similar to a door which opens and closes on its hinges. [Admur 626/20, see above example regarding roof of Sukkah]. As well one is merely adding an extension to an already existing roof, which is allowed according to all when done for temporary use. 

[57] SSH”K 24/15

[58] As one is merely adding an extension to an already existing roof, which is allowed according to all when done for temporary use. 

[59] See above!

[60] Piskeiy Teshuvos 315/6

[61] SSH”K 24/13

[62] SSH”K 24/13, as rules Ketzos Hashulchan regarding question brought earlier if one may set up on Shabbos panels within 3 handbreadths of each other, in which case he rules that it is forbidden.

[63] Az Nidbaru 3/24

[64] Seemingly they hold that once it is attached it is considered like a door and is thus allowed to be opened.

[65] Chazon Ish 52/6; Bris Olam 14; Shraga Hameir 3/37; Beir Moshe 6/87 based on Chazon Ish; SSH”K 24/13

[66] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 8; Igros Moshe 4/105; Sheivet Halevy 3/54; Minchas Yitzchak 10/26 leaves this matter in question although leans to be lenient in a case that the hood also forms side walls when opened.

[67] 315/13 :Any temporary tent which one has no intention into making into a tent [the Sages] only prohibited spreading over walls which one [had already] set up under it on Shabbos if the roofing had not been attached on its walls from before Shabbos. However if [the roofing] had already been attached to them from before Shabbos but it was placed there folded, then it is permitted to spread it out and set it up on Shabbos.”

[68] Ketzos Hashulchan ibid

[69] Rav SZ”A in SSH”K 24 footnote 46

[70] Ketzos Hashulchan 120 footnote 8; Igros Moshe 4/105; Sheivet Halevy 3/54; Minchas Yitzchak 10/26 leaves this matter in question although leans to be lenient in a case that the hood also forms side walls when opened.

[71] Piskeiy Teshuvos 315/6

[72] Az Nidbaru 11/24

[73] Beir Moshe 6/108

[74] So writes Piskeiy Teshuvos 315 footnote 22, as a moveable tent is still called a tent. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol as according to this it should be permitted also to wear a baseball cap for sun protection being that it was already a tent from before Shabbos.

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