Using an instrument or vessel

Making sounds, rhythms or music on Shabbos using an instrument or vessel:[1]

Making sounds of music with an instrument: It is forbidden to make the sound of music, including a mere tune[2], on Shabbos, using any instrument or vessel, even if the instrument or vessel is not a musical instrument[3].[4] Likewise it is forbidden to make sounds of music even using one’s body[5], with exception to one’s mouth as will be explained in Halacha 3.

Making noise with an instrument: It is permitted to make noise[6] on Shabbos using an item that is not designated for noise making, so long as one does not intent to sound a tone of music with this noise. However an item which is designated for making noise[7] is not to be used to consciously make any noise.[8]

Moving an item which upon being moved makes noise or music: When permitted to move an item designated for making music[9] or noise [see Halacha 2 below regarding Muktzah], it is permitted to do so even if this music or noise will inevitably occur upon moving it, so long as one has no intent to sound this music or noise[10] [and it is not electrically based].

Asking a gentile to play music:[11] It is forbidden to ask a gentile to play music on Shabbos. However some allow doing so for the sake of a wedding.[12]

Making music to help an ill person fall asleep: It is permitted to make a tune or beat in order to help a bedridden person fall asleep.[13]

 

Examples:

  • Placing water into a punctured vessel having it drip: It is forbidden to place water into a punctured vessel, having the drops drip onto an upside down metal vessel, in order so it form a pleasant sound of“Tif Tif, Tif Tif” to help one fall asleep.[14] It is however permitted to do so for the sake of one who is sick and bedridden[15] in order to help him fall asleep.

    If however the drops are falling with much strength onto the metal, hence making loud noise rather than music, such as for the purpose of waking someone, it is permitted for one to set it up on Shabbos.[16]

  • Knocking on a door: One is not to use a door knocker to knock on a door on Shabbos, due to opinions which forbid its use.[17] Rather the custom is to knock with one’s hands on the door. Some knock with an instrument that is not designated for knocking. [Thus one may knock using a key a book or any item that is not designated for knocking.]
  • Shaking a bell: [18] One may not shake a bell in order to quiet down a child.
  • Moving a bell: It is permitted to move a bell even if doing so will cause it to make noise, if one has no intent for this noise to occur.[19]
  • Clothing with a bell attached: It is permitted [for an adult[20]] to walk with clothing which has a bell attached to it that makes sounds of music being that one has no intent to do so.[21] It is however forbidden to give these clothing to a child to wear[22] [even if the child is below the age of Chinuch[23]], [and certainly it is forbidden to dress the child in these clothes[24]] as certainly the child has intent to make the sounds of the bells while walking with the clothing.[25] Likewise it is even forbidden for an adult to wear such clothing if he consciously intends to make the sounds of the bell.[26]
  • Paroches with bells attached: It is permitted to connect to the Aron Kodesh a Paroches which has bells attached to it and makes noise upon being opened.[27]This Paroches may be opened [and closed[28]] on Shabbos without hindrance.
  • Alarm clock:[29] It is permitted to set up an alarm clock before Shabbos for it to set off its alarm on Shabbos.[30] It is however forbidden to set up an alarm clock on Shabbos even if it is mechanical [non-battery operated] being that by doing so one is consciously causing noise to be made. [31]
  • Playing a beat with an almond and the like: [32] One may not play a beat with an almond [or other item].

 

Summary:

It is forbidden to play a tune, rhythm or beat using any instrument or vessel. It is forbidden to even make mere noise using an instrument designated for noise making. It is permitted to make mere noise using an item that is not designated for this purpose.

 


[1] 338/1

[2] The definition of a sound of music is any sound which a person intends to make in an even slightly pleasant tone, as is done by music. [ibid]

[3] Meaning even if the vessel is not designated for making music it is forbidden to be used to sound music. [ibid]

[4] This is forbidden due to a Rabbinical decree that one may come to fix a musical instrument. [ibid]

[5] So sis evident from wording of Admur “It is forbidden to make a sound of music with exception to one’s mouth, but not with anything else”. So is also evident from 339/2 that it is forbidden to snap one’s fingers in playing a tone.

[6] This refers to random sounds which have no rhythm or beat such as a simple knocking on a door.

[7] Meaning even if it is not designated to make music, but mere noise, such as a metal door knocker it is not to be used. [ibid]

[8] Admur brings a dispute regarding this matter: The first opinion [Michaber; brought as the Stam opinion] rules that it is permitted to make noise with any instrument if one does not intend to sound a tone, even if the instrument is designated for music. Other opinions [Rama 338/1] however rule one may not make any sound, even a mere noise, using an instrument which is designated to make noise. Practically the custom is like the latter opinion. [ibid]

[9] So is implied from Admur regarding Bells attached to clothing that they are allowed even though they make “sounds of music”.

[10]This follows the ruling of M”A 338/1; Shach Yoreh Deah 282/4

Other Opinions: The Taz Yoreh Deah 282/2 rules it is forbidden to make noise using an instrument designated for this purpose even if one does not intend to do so. So rules also: Gr”a; Elya Raba; Shaar Efrayim; M”B 338/6 that one is not to be lenient Lechatchilah in this matter.

[11] 338/3

[12] Some opinions allow one to tell a gentile to play musical instruments by weddings which have continued into Shabbos out of respect for the Chasan and Kalah. This is allowed as the Sages did not decree against doing Rabbinical prohibitions through a gentile in a circumstance which involves a Mitzvah, and having music is the main aspect of Simchas Chasan Vekalah. According to all however it is forbidden to tell the gentile to perform a Biblical prohibition for the sake of playing music, such as telling him to fix the string of a guitar or the like, which involves the Biblical prohibition of Tikkun Keli. [This follows the ruling of M”A, however the Rama 338/1 rules it is permitted.] According to all it is forbidden to ask a gentile to play music for purposes other than a wedding. Nevertheless today the custom has become to be lenient in this, and they are not to be protested. [ibid]

[13] So is implied from the allowance of Admur to use the “tif taf” water dripping bucket. So is also learned from 328/19 That all Rabbinical prohibitions may be done using an irregularity. Vetzaruch Iyun why here no mention is made of using an irregularity.

[14] A pleasant sound helps one fall asleep. This is forbidden to be done as it is considered similar to an instrument and it thus receives the decree against using it due to fear one may come to fix a musical instrument. [ibid]

[15] Admur writes “sick”. Vetzaruch Iyun as there are different gradations of illnesses as explained in chapter 328; Bedridden; slightly sick; in great pain, in slight pain. The Halachas differ in accordance to the ailment. Seemingly however when Admur plainly writes sick he is referring to a Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana which is a person which is week in his entire body or is bedridden, and not any of the other gradations of illness. However Tzaruch Iyun on the entire case, as even for one who is bedridden it is only permitted to do a Rabbinical prohibition with an irregularity. Why then is there no requirement for an irregularity mentioned here?

[16] As the sound it makes is not similar a musical note as it is not a pleasant sound. [ibid]

[17] Admur brings a dispute regarding this matter: The first opinion [brought as the Stam opinion] rules that it is permitted to knock on a door using its knocker. Other opinions however rule one may not do so being it is an instrument which is designated to make noise. Practically the custom is like the latter opinion. [ibid] Vetzaruch Iyun if this ruling is based on Admur’s legal conclusion or based on custom. Tzaruch Iyun if when Admur wrote the custom he was intending to give a final ruling like whom we follow and hence we follow the stringent opinion based on custom, or perhaps previously when he wrote “it is forbidden to knock using the door knocker” this was the final ruling, and when he added the custom to knock with one’s hand, it was to exclude knocking with an undesignated vessel.

[18] 339/2

[19] This follows the ruling of the M”A 338/1; Shach Yoreh Deah 282/4

Other Opinions: According to the Taz Yoreh Deah 282/2 this would be forbidden. So rules also: Gr”a; Elya Raba; Shaar Efrayim; M”B 338/6 that one is not to be lenient Lechatchilah in this matter.

[20] 301/21 rules that for children it is forbidden to give them such clothing to wear on Shabbos

[21] 338/1

[22] 301/21

[23] So is implied from Admur 301/21 which mentions that doing so is “Feeding the prohibition with one’s hands” which is forbidden to be done even to children below the age of Chinuch. So is also implied from Tehila Ledavid 343/2 and so certainly learns Chickrei Halachos 4 p. 54. With regards to the seeming contradiction between this ruling and the ruling in 343/10, see Chikrei Halachos ibid; Haros Ubiurim Ohalei Torah 831 p. 79.

[24] As then certainly it is like one is feeding the child the Issur.

[25] Hence giving these clothing to the child is like feeding a prohibited food with one’s hands to a child, which is forbidden to be done.

One must conclude that a child has conscious intent to make the noise with the bells as otherwise this would contradict the ruling in 338/1

[26] As is understood from 338/1

[27] As although the bells make noise when the Peroches is moved and the bells were attached to the Paroches for the sake of letting the congregation hear the bells and know when the ark is being opened so they can stand up for the removal of the Torah scroll, nevertheless since the person opening the Peroches has no intent to make this sound, it is permitted to be done. Furthermore, even if the opener consciously desired to make the sounds, this would remain permitted as it is being done for the sake of a Mitzvah so the congregation hears and stands. Now, if even for an ill person so he fall asleep the Sages allowed even to make a sound of music, then certainly for a Mitzvah one is allowed to make a noise which is not even the sound of music. As the sounding of the bells is not in a pleasant form of tunes but is rather simply an instrument designated to make noise. [ibid]

This follows the ruling of the M”A 338/1; Shach Yoreh Deah 282/4.

Other Opinions: According to the Taz Yoreh Deah 282/2 using such a Peroches would be forbidden. So rules also: Gr”a; Elya Raba; Shaar Efrayim; M”B 338/6 that one is not to be lenient Lechatchilah in this matter.

[28] So long as one has no intent to make the noise of the bells upon closing it, as in this case there is no Mitzvah involved in closing it, as there is when opening it.

[29] 338/4; 252/16

[30] This applies even if one desires it to ring for the remainder of the day. [ibid] As although it is a noise making Melacha, of which one is to be stringent against doing even before Shabbos, nevertheless since it is common knowledge that alarms are set up the day before they ring, there is therefore no applicable suspicion that people may think it was set up on Shabbos. [252/16]

[31] This applies even if the alarm clock only sounds noise and not musical tones, as nevertheless it is forbidden to make noise with a vessel that is designated for noise making. It goes without saying that one may not set up the alarm clock if doing so causes tunes to sound and the like. [based on 252/16; 338/4 which states in parentheses that it is forbidden being that it is a vessel which is designated for noise, of which the law is that even for mere noise it is forbidden to be used ]

[32] 339/2

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