7. Making a hole in a barrel

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7. Making a hole in a barrel:

A. Chopping off the top of a barrel:[1]

A person may present a barrel of wine before his guests, and cut off its head (the definition of the head of the barrel is the area of the lid which is the [most] elevated area of the barrel when [the barrel] is resting [on its bottom] in which the surrounding area slants downwards from all sides) with a sword from underneath its lid. Meaning that one cuts the surrounding opening of [the barrel] together with the lid that is covering it.[2]

The reason the above is allowed:[3] Now although through doing this one makes a new opening in the barrel, [nevertheless] this does not pose a problem because for certain one has no intent to make a new opening [by doing so], being that it is not at all usual to make [an opening] this way, to chop off the head of the barrel in order to make an opening. Rather one intends [in doing so] to look good, to show his generosity before the guests by him widening for them the area that the wine can be taken from.

Restrictions on the above allowance:[4] [However,] this is [only allowed] if the barrel was broken and then glued back together with tar and also does not hold 40 seah, in which case doing so does not carry with it the destroying [prohibition] as explained above.


B. The prohibition to make a hole in the side of the barrel:[5]

[Although chopping off the top of the barrel is allowed if it is an un-sturdy structure and does not hold 40 Seah,] nevertheless it is forbidden to make a hole in the body of the barrel even with a spear, in which one makes a large hole that is not similar to an opening, because nevertheless he is for certain intending to make a hole [by doing so]. Meaning that since he does not want to open the lid on a constant basis for whatever reason that he has, therefore he has made this hole to remove the wine with at all times that he does not wish to open the lid, in which case this is a complete opening which is made for exiting purposes which the Sages prohibited.[6]

The reason why here we do not say that he is doing so to show his generosity is because:[7] If he had intended to [make the hole in order to] make himself look good then he should have opened the lid, being that through there one can take out a lot more wine then is able to be taken out through the hole that he made.


C. Making a hole in the lid of a barrel:[8]

Making a hole on the top of the lid: However, it is permitted to make a hole in the lid from above in order to take out wine through it even if the barrel is whole[9] [i.e. meaning was never broken and then glued back together].

The reason for this is:[10] because it is not usual at all to make an opening in the lid from above, [as one] rather just takes off the lid. Therefore, this hole which is on top does not appear and is not considered to be an opening at all. Thus the [Sages] did not prohibit [making a hole] within the lid, as since even if one were to make a complete hole [in the lid,] [meaning that the hole was made] for entering wine into and to remove wine from it, one is [nevertheless] not Biblically liable as [opposed to the law] for one who makes [such a hole] in the barrel itself [in which case he is liable].  [The reason for why one is not Biblically liable by a hole made in the lid is] because the lid is not considered attached to the barrel even when it is placed on the opening [of the barrel], rather it is an individual item. Therefore the hole [which is made in it] is not considered made to enter and remove [wine] through it, as when one removes and enters [wine] through this hole it is as if he is removing and entering it through the mouth of the barrel alone [without the lid being attached to it], as this hole in the lid does not at all help one in removing and entering [wine into the barrel] being that even without this [hole] one would be able to enter and remove [the wine] through the mouth of the barrel. Now, although the mouth is sealed with the lid [nevertheless] this is not considered a complete sealing since the lid is not considered attached to the barrel [and thus we do not consider the hole in the lid to be of any real help]. Thus [being that making a hole in the lid is never Biblically prohibited even when made to enter and exit through] therefore [the Sages] were not overly strict to forbid even making a hole which is only made to remove [wine] from it, when made in an area that it is not common to make an opening from which [by a barrel refers to the area that] is above on its top.[11]

Making a hole on the side of the lid:[12] However, it is forbidden to make a hole on the side [of the lid], meaning in the area where the barrel slants downwards.

The reason for this is:[13] because it is common to occasionally make an opening on its side, such as when one wants the barrel to be open to constantly be able to remove wine from it and he does not want to remove the lid [permanently for this purpose] in order so dust or waste not fall in the wine, and he therefore makes an opening on its side.

Making a hole on the top of the actual barrel:[14] However, to make a hole in the actual barrel[15] is forbidden even on its top, even though it is not common to make an opening there, as since if [this hole] were to be made to enter and remove [wine] through it then he would be Biblically liable even though it was made on its top, therefore even when the hole is only made to remove [wine], it is Rabbinically forbidden even when made in its top.



One may chop off the top of an un-sturdy structured barrel [i.e. an earthenware barrel which has been broken and re-glued together] which does not hold 40 Seah in order to show benevolence to his guests. One may also make a hole on a removable lid of a barrel even if the barrel is considered a sturdy structure. One may not However, make a hole on the side of the lid or on the side of the barrel. If the barrel is completely closed and does not contain a removable lid, it is forbidden to make a hole in any part of the barrel including its top.

If a barrel holds 40 seah or is a sturdy structure making a hole in the actual barrel is forbidden in any situation due to the destroying prohibition.

In summary: One can only make a hole in a barrel in one of two cases:

1. Chop off the top of an un-sturdy barrel.

2. Make a hole on the lid of even a sturdy vessel, for the sake of exiting or entering alone.



May one make a hole in the cover of a vessel?[16]

It is permitted if the cover is removable and for whatever reason one would rather remove the content through making a hole, and it is not common to make a hole in such an area, and the hole is only being made for use in one direction, either for exiting or entering, but not both.


May a corivon cork opener be used on Shabbos?

It should only be used if one does not press the air into the wine.[17]


Question: [Thursday, 20th Menachem Av, 5781]

In our family we follow the ruling that it is forbidden to open bottle caps on Shabbos. This Shabbos we ran out of wine and needed to open a new bottle which was not opened from before Shabbos and did not know what to do. The wine bottle has a regular metal cap, and we do not have any bottles with a cork that can be opened. What are we to do?



In such a case, you may simply puncture the top of the cap using a pointy knife, making sure not to cut through any letters or pictures, and pour the wine through the hole that was created. Once a hole has been made you may then even open the cap as usual. However, in order to avoid a question of revealed wine regarding the remaining wine in the bottle, you should either pour the wine into a decanter, or cover it with a cup and the like.


Explanation: According to all opinions, it is permitted to make a hole in the cover of a vessel, and hence even according to those who are stringent not to open wine caps on Shabbos, they are allowed to puncture a hole into it. The only thing that needs to be avoided is the erasing prohibition which can be transgressed if one ruins a picture or letter. Now, once the cap has a hole in it, it is no longer considered a usable vessel and therefore may be twisted off the wine bottle even according to those who are generally stringent, being that the reason for their stringency is due to Tikkun Keli, and once a hole has been made so it can no longer hold liquids and properly cover the bottle, it is no longer able to become a Keli.


Sources: See regarding making a hole in a cover: Admur 314:14; Michaber 314:6; M”A 314; See regarding the allowance to twist off the cap once a hole is made: SSH”K 19:18 footnotes 71-72



[1] Admur 314:13; Michaber 314:6; Braisa Shabbos 146a

[2] Meaning the following: The lid is made in a way that it inserts within the top of the barrel, and is thus surrounded by the top area of the barrel. One then cuts off the entire lid by cutting the barrel from under the lid, thus consequently also cutting with it the top edge of the barrel that surrounded the lid.

[3] Admur ibid; Gemara ibid and Mefarshim there; M”B 314:23 in name of Rambam and Rashal; See Shaar Hatziyon 314:25

[4] Admur ibid; M”A 314:7; M”B 314:23

[5] Admur 314:13; Michaber 314:6

[6] Admur ibid; Taz 314:4

[7] Admur ibid; Gemara ibid; M”B 314:27

[8] Admur 314:14; Michaber 314:6

[9] Admur ibid; M”A 314:8; M”B 314:28

[10] Admur ibid; M”A 314:8

[11] This implies that it was only permitted due to a joint of three reasons: a) that one would never be Biblically obligated on such a hole even if made to enter and exit, and b) that it is unusual to make a hole in such an area and c) That one is making the hole only for exiting. However, if one of the above is lacking then it remains Rabbinically prohibited.

[12] Admur 31414; Michaber 3146

[13] Admur ibid based on Rashi ibid

[14] Admur 314:15; M”A 3148

[15] Such as if it does not have a lid and rather is completely sealed on top and bottom, or if it has a lid and one wants to make a hole on its bottom side which is part of the barrel.

[16] Halacha 14

[17] The reason: As it is permitted to make a hole in a cover. However, this only applies if it goes one way, such as to remove the wine. However, here that it is made also to enter gas, seemingly it should be forbidden. However, seemingly if your intent in entering the gas is only to remove the wine, then it would remain permitted, as its like sticking a hand through the hole to get the item. However, if one’s intent is to leave the gas there for preservation, then seemingly it would not be allowed, Rabbinically, as it is made for exit and entrance.

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