8. The prohibition to break a complete/sturdy vessel on Shabbos

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8. The prohibition to break a complete/sturdy vessel on Shabbos:[1]

If [a barrel] is whole [meaning it never broke and was then refurbished] it is forbidden to break it even in a way that one is not making for it a nice opening, because breaking a complete structure is forbidden even by vessels. Furthermore [another reason] is due to a decree that one may come to intend to puncture in it a nice hole in order that it contains an elegant opening.

The allowance to ask a gentile to break a sturdy/complete vessel on Shabbos:[2] Nevertheless through a gentile one may be lenient to [ask him for the purpose of a Shabbos need] whether to break the locks and whether to remove the hinges and metal panels.

The reason for this allowance is:[3] because there are opinions[4] who say that there is no building and destroying [prohibition] by vessels including even to build a sturdy [complete] structure and to destroy a complete [sturdy] structure. [According to this opinion] it was only said that one who reassembles a chest of drawers and a box and portable tower in a strong way, and similarly that one who reassembles a vessel made up of individual parts in a strong way, that he is liable for a sin offering, because he has fixed a vessel and is [thus] obligated [for the offering] because [he has transgressed the prohibition of] “Making a finishing touch”, [and not because of the building prohibition]. Thus when one destroys an item that is firmly assembled, and even if he destroys and breaks a vessel made completely of a single part, this does not contain any prohibition when done for the sake of Shabbos, and one may rely on this opinion regarding asking a gentile to do so when needed to be done for a Shabbos need.[5] [Likewise, one may ask a gentile to destroy it in a case of great need, even if it does not contain a Shabbos need.[6]]



May one ask a gentile to make a hole inside a vessel on Shabbos?[7]

The allowance to ask a gentile to destroy a vessel is only if the vessel is being damaged through the gentile’s actions. However, if the vessel is benefiting. Such as to make a hole into a barrel, then according to all opinions it would be forbidden.  [Although seemingly it would be permitted in a case of great need, or need of a Mitzvah, if the hole is only being made for entering or exiting as is always the rule by Shevus Deshvus.]


May one ask a gentile to fix a vessel on Shabbos?[8]


What is the definition of a Shabbos need?[9]

It is only permitted to destroy an un-sturdy structure if one needs to remove something from within the item in order to use that content for Shabbos. For example, if an un-sturdy vessel contains food, one may break through it in order to eat food that is in it. However, to destroy it in order to hide something in it is forbidden even by a non-sturdy structure.



[1] Admur 314:1; 313:19: [As well as] if one breaks a complete structure [not made of parts], then this is [considered] destroying a sturdy structure and is thus liable for destroying.

[2] Admur 314:17; Michaber 314:7

[3] Admur 314:17

[4] Hagahos Maimanis 23:1 in name of Reim; Yireim; Rashi Shabbos 47a; Gr”a in M”B 314:7

[5] Admur ibid; See Q&A for the definition of a Shabbos need.

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may only be lenient to ask a gentile to break the vessel if it is a case of great loss, or the need of a Mitzvah. [M”A 314:11 in name of Rashal; M”B 314:37]

[6] M”B ibid; and so rules Admur in 307:12 being that it is a Shvus Deshvus in place of a great need, as it is Soser Shelo Al Menas Letaken.

[7] Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 7; See M”B 314:34 in name of Chayeh Adam

[8] M”B 314:34 in name of Chayeh Adam; Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 7

[9] Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 18

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