Earplugs – May one use earplugs on Shabbos?

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May one use earplugs on Shabbos?[1]

Wax or silicone earplugs: It is forbidden to use wax earplugs on Shabbos if they are required to be shaped to fit into one’s ear on Shabbos.[2] However, some Poskim[3] rule that it is permitted to use them on Shabbos if they were prepared from before Shabbos for the measurement of one’s ear hole.[4] However, some Poskim[5] are stringent even in such a case.

Foam earplugs:[6] Foam earplugs are permitted to be used on Shabbos without restriction. There is no resemblance of a prohibition in doing so.


[1] Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:6 [old]; 11 [new]

[2] SSH”K 14:39 [old] 45 [new]; Shraga Hameir 5:23; Mishnas Yosef 5:77; Chut Shani 2:248; Mishneh Berurah Lemaaseh 314:69 in name of the Shevet Halevi; Shalmei Yehuda 10:21 in name of Rav Elyashiv

The reason: This is forbidden due to the smearing prohibition [See Admur 314:20] as well as a possible fixing a vessel prohibition, being that he has to form the wax around his ear and in the hole for it to properly stop out the noise.

The smearing prohibition: See Admur 314:21 One who smears a poultice, which means that he smoothens and levels the grooves that are in it, as well as one who smears wax or tar and anything of the like which is a material that can be smeared down until it smoothens its surface, then this is an offshoot of [the] “smoothing of hide“ [prohibition], which is [a prohibition against] scraping the wool or the hair off the hide until its surface is smooth, which is a primary prohibited action being that this was done in the Tabernacle as explained in chapter 302 [Halacha 15]. Therefore, one may not seal a hole with wax or similar things even if one does not enter the wax into the hole but rather only places it onto the opening of the hole in which case it does not appear like one is fixing a vessel with this stuffing being that the stuffing is not entering into the thickness of the walls of the vessel of the hole area and rather is only on the opening of the vessel on its back. Furthermore, even if this wax is not prohibited to be moved such as in a case that it was prepared to be used from before Shabbos, nevertheless it is forbidden to seal with it due to a decree that one may come to smear the wax to attach it to the walls of the vessel which surround the hole to the point that he smoothens its surface there and will then be liable for “smoothening”. Even with fat or congealed oil it is forbidden to seal with due to a decree [that one may come to seal with] wax. It is forbidden to connive here to [plug with the fat and congealed oil and tell others that] he only intends to hide [the fat in the hole] even if he is a Torah Scholar, as since with wax it is very easily possible for one to come to be liable for a sin offering, [meaning that it is very possible] that he will forget and will smear it in the way it is done usually during the week, in order so that the sealing be well firm, therefore [the Sages] also prohibited [sealing] with fat and oil due to a decree [that one may come to smear with] wax and the like.”

[3] Shraga Hameir 5:23

[4] The reason: As in such a case there is very minute smearing that must be done, and such a minute amount is insignificant.

[5] Mishnas Yosef 5:77; Az Nidbaru 3:21

[6] Mishnas Yosef 5:77; Shraga Hameir 5:23; Kinyan Torah 1:63; Miluim on SSH”K ibid; Shulchan Shlomo 314:14; Piskeiy Teshuvah 314:6 footnote 22; See Maharshag 2:126

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