Forms of work

The forms of work that are forbidden to be done past Mincha:[1]

The Sages only forbade one to do forms of work which fulfill all the following conditions:

  1. Melacha Gemura: The work is a complete form of work. [Meaning that it involves laborious activity, as opposed to a job which involves mere buying and selling, as will be explained below.]
  2. Kavua Work: It is only forbidden to do work past Mincha if the work requires one to settle himself over it, and takes a lot of one’s time.[2] It is however permitted to do an activity, even if laborious, which is temporary and does not take much time, such as to write a greetings letter to a friend and activities of the like.[3] [One may do temporary work on behalf of another even for the sake of receiving payment.[4]]
  3. The work is not being done for the sake of Shabbos or a Mitzvah: Settling oneself into doing a laborious activity was only forbidden if this activity is not being done for the sake of Shabbos or a Mitzvah. If however he is doing so for the sake of Shabbos, such as to sew clothing for Shabbos[5], then it is permitted for him to do so throughout the entire day. This applies whether one is working on behalf of himself or on behalf of someone else, [so long as he is doing so free of charge, as will be explained next]. Likewise, if one is doing the activity for the sake of a Mitzvah[6], such as to write Sefarim [and Chidushei Torah[7]], it is permitted to be done throughout the entire day, whether for himself, or for another free of charge.

    One is doing so for the sake of Shabbos or a Mitzvah but is receiving payment: It is forbidden for one to settle himself into a laborious activity, such as sewing a garment, on behalf of another in exchange for payment, even if one is doing so for the sake of Shabbos or a Mitzvah.[8]  It is permitted to do so free of charge as explained. The above is with exception to giving a haircut to another Jew which may be done even for payment as will be explained later on.

    One is doing a laborious job for the sake of using the money for Shabbos expenses: One who is poor and wishes to work a laborious job in order to use the money to buy his Shabbos needs[9], may do so throughout the entire day of Erev Shabbos[10] [even if the labor is not needed for the employer for the sake of Shabbos, and even if it is a professional labor[11]].

  4. The work is forbidden on Chol Hamoed:[12] In all situations that work is permitted to be done on Chol Hamoed it is likewise permitted to be done past Mincha of Erev Shabbos.[13]

 

Examples of activities that may be done after Mincha: [14]

  • Business-Buying and selling:

    It is permitted for one to do business past the time of Mincha as such work is not defined as a complete form of work.[15]

    When are businesses to close on Erev Shabbos:[16] Although businesses[17] are permitted to remain open after Mincha, nevertheless it is proper to send someone to close the shops an hour before nightfall [which is about a half hour before sunset-see footnote[18]]. The reason for this is because many times [if this is not done] a severe dilemma[19] derives, as at times an important person[20] comes into the shop, and the business negotiations continue until actual night, causing Shabbos to be desecrated.[21]

     

  • Writing a letter:

    It is permitted to write a greetings letter to a friend. [The same applies for all writing that may be written on Chol Hamoed, they may likewise be written on Erev Shabbos past Mincha. However those writings forbidden to be written on Chol Hamoed are forbidden to be written on Erev Shabbos. [22]]

     

Haircut:[23]

For a gentile: It is forbidden to give a gentile a haircut on Erev Shabbos past Mincha. This applies even if one is giving an amateur haircut, and even if he is doing so free of charge.[24] [See Q&A]

For a Jew: It is permitted to give a Jew a haircut throughout the entire Erev Shabbos, even past the time of Mincha.[25] This applies even if one is giving a professional haircut and is doing so in exchange for payment[26], as it is recognizable to all that the haircut is being done in honor of Shabbos.

 

Summary:

It is forbidden to do work 2.5 Halachic[27] hours[28] prior to sunset on Erev Shabbos unless:

  1. The work being done is for a Shabbos need of oneself, or for someone else and is being done free of charge. This is with exception to one giving a haircut to another Jew, which may be done even for payment.
  2. The work is done temporarily and not in way of that one needs to establish himself to do it. Meaning it does not take a long time for it to get done.
  3. It is being done for the purpose of a mitzvah and if done for another is being done free of charge.
  4. One is poor and is working in order to buy things for Shabbos.
  5. The work being done is not real labor. Like a counter salesman in a store.
  6. If one does not do the work now it will cause him a loss.

Likewise all work that may be done on Chol Hamoed may be done past Mincha.

 

Until what time on Erev Shabbos may a store be left open?

The stores may be left open until 30 minutes prior to sunset.

 

List of activities that may be done past Mincha of Erev Shabbos:

  • Write Sefarim free of charge.
  • Sew a garment for Shabbos free of charge.
  • Give a haircut to a Jew even for payment.
  • Buying and selling at a store.
  • Write a friendly letter to an acquaintance.

 

Q&A

May an employee work past 2.5 hours before sunset if his boss requests him to do so?[29]

If he has employed himself for that day’s work then he is obligated to work the entire day. However initially one should stipulate that he will only work up to 2.5 hours before sunset on Erev Shabbos.

 

If a gentile pays one a monthly payment in exchange for him receiving a haircut whenever he wishes, may one do so if the gentile desires a haircut on Erev Shabbos within 2.5 hours before sunset?[30]

Yes[31]. However initially one should stipulate with the gentile that he does not give haircuts past 2.5 hours before sunset on Erev Shabbos.

 

May one begin an activity, such as giving a gentile a haircut, prior to 2.5 hours before sunset, if he knows it will continue into the 2.5 hours?[32]

This matter requires further analysis.

 

May a Sofer write Mezuzas, Tefillin, or Sifrei Torah past 2.5 hours prior to sunset?[33]

If he is doing so as a hobby, or for personal use then it is allowed. If however he is doing so as part of his income then it is forbidden.[34]

 

May one perform cleaning help for Shabbos past 2.5 hours before sunset, in exchange for payment?

This matter requires further analysis.[35]

 

May one work in cleaning Shtreimals for Shabbos past 2.5 hours before sunset?

This matter requires further analysis.[36]

 

May one work to collect payment for Mikveh past 2.5 hours before sunset?

Yes, as it is similar to business which is allowed.

 

May one build his Sukkah on Erev Sukkos past the 10th hour?

Ideally one is to complete the building of his Sukkah prior to 2. 5 hours before sunset.[37] If however it is past 2.5 hours before sunset and one has still not built his Sukkah, it may nevertheless still be built.[38]


[1] 251/3

[2] Seemingly this is the meaning of “Derech Keva” written in 251/3. This wording is written in the Rama 251/1 and is based on a ruling of the Oar Zarua. It however does not mean that it is only forbidden if the work is prescheduled, and is permitted if it happened to come up, as what is the logic to differentiate. Either way if the action takes a lot of one’s time there is suspicion that one may not be able to prepare for his Shabbos needs. So also learns SSH”K 42/38-39. Perhaps however one can say it also excludes scheduling oneself to perform a certain work every Erev Shabbos for purposes of making money. So is implied from the wording of Oar Zarua, see there.

[3] As the Sages only prohibited doing work which one settles himself over, in order so one be free to deal with his Shabbos needs. [Ibid]

[4] Mishneh Berurah 251/4; Kaf Hachaim 251/11

[5] This implies that even to sew an entire garment in a professional manner is allowed. This is in contrast to the wording of the Michaber [251/2] which writes “to fix cloths”.

[6] As doing so for the sake of a Mitzvah is similar to doing so for the sake of Shabbos. [ibid]

[7] Aruch Hashulchan 251/2

[8] As in truth when payment is taken, it is considered that the activity is being doing merely for the money and not for the sake of Shabbos at all, and since it is likewise not evident to others that one is doing so for the sake of Shabbos, it is therefore not allowed. [251/4] However when done free of charge, since in truth one is solely doing so for the sake of Shabbos, it is allowed to be done even though that this is not evident to others.

[9] This includes if he needs the money merely to buy Shabbos delicacies. [Mishneh Berurah 251/5; Kaf Hachaim 251]

[10] As even on Chol Hamoed one may do all forms of labors in order so he have food to eat. Thus certainly on Erev Shabbos past Mincha, which is a lighter working prohibition, then is Chol Hamoed, one may work for food. [ibid]

[11] Just as is the law on Chol Hamoed. [see 562/2 and Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos 251 footnote 6]

[12] 251/5

[13] Such as if one doesn’t do the work now it will cause him a loss. It is beyond the scope of this book to delve into all the detailed laws of those situations in which work is forbidden to be done on Chol Hamoed, and those which are permitted. See Shulchan Aruch chapters 530-548, or Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa.

[14] 251/3

[15] This ruling of Admur follows the ruling of the Magen Avraham 251/1. However the Eliyahu Raba rules that doing business is forbidden from the time of Mincha, and so is implied to be the opinion of the Michaber. [Kaf Hachaim 251/2]

[16] 256/1

[17] This refers to stores, or any other job which involves buying and selling. In the previous Halacha the term work is defined as physical labor and not mere buying and selling.

[18] Kuntrus Achron 251/1;

In 256/1 Admur rules “one hour prior to night”. This refers to nightfall, Tzeis Hakochavim, of which usually begins 30 minutes after accepting Shabbos, as writes Admur in Kuntrus Achron ibid. Hence we wrote inside that a half hour before sunset, which equals a full hour before nightfall, the stores are to be closed. However this calculation of 30 minutes between nightfall and Kabalas Shabbos is only in accordance to the opinion of Rabeinu Tam. However according to the Geonim, which is the accustomed ruling today, the amount of time between sunset and nightfall, can be anywhere between 15-40 minutes, depending on the country and season. Thus the Ketzos Hashulchan [73 footnote 14] concludes that in Jerusalem businesses must close 40 minutes prior to sunset, being that there is usually 20 minutes between sunset and nightfall.  Although Tzaruch Iyun, as in the Kuntrus Achron Admur states that there is no power of the Sages to enforce the closing of the stores prior to 30 minutes before Kabalas Shabbos, and thus even in Jerusalem the work is to be stopped only 30 minutes before sunset. Accordingly an area which has a 40 minutes Bein Hashmashos would nevertheless need to close their stores 30 minutes prior to sunset, and each area is to calculate 30 minutes prior to its sunset. Vetzaruch Iyun, as according to this understanding Admur should have stated in 256/1 simply “30 minutes prior to Kabalas Shabbos” and not 1 hour prior to night.

Conclusion: There requires further analysis whether stores are to closed 60 minutes prior to nightfall, or 30 minutes prior to sunset.

Opinion of Mishneh Berurah: In Shaareiy Tziyon 256/3 he rules that the stores are to close one hour prior to sunset, unlike Admur which rules one hour prior to nightfall.

[19] Lit. stumbling block. Meaning it causes one to transgress a prohibition.

[20] Lit. an aristocrat

[21] The responsibility of enforcing the close of the businesses prior to Shabbos lies on the heads of the community, as the Sages expounded from the verse, “And I will put it on their necks”. [From this verse the Sages learned that the transgressions of the community which can be stopped by the community leaders, give liability to those leaders which did not try to stop them.] [Ibid]

[22] Kaf Hachaim 251/12 in name of Ben Ish Chaiy Lech Licha 20

It is beyond the scope of this book to delve into all the detailed laws of those writings which are forbidden to be done on Chol Hamoed, and those which are permitted. See Shulchan Aruch chapter 545, or Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa.

[23] 251/4

[24] As a haircut is considered a laborious activity which one must settle himself down into doing, and is thus forbidden to be done past the time of Mincha if it serves no Shabbos need. [ibid] However the Magen Avraham [251/5] suggests that it is permitted to give an amateur haircut to a gentile, as it is considered a Maaseh Hedyot.

[25] The Arizal however would not get a haircut past the time of Mincha Gedola [midday], based on Kabalistic reasons. [brought in Magen Avraham 251/5] Admur however omitted this custom of the Arizal. See Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1/130 that the Rebbe concludes regarding the time of cutting nails, which is similar to the time of the cutting of the hair, that he did not receive a directive in how to follow.

Opinion of Gr”a: The Gra is stringent against allowing haircuts past midday, although this is not the worldly custom. [Aruch Hashulchan 251/3]

[26] The reason that one may give a haircut past Mincha even in exchange for payment, in contrast to sewing for another past Mincha which must be done free of charge, this is because by a haircut it is clearly evident that it is being done for the sake of Shabbos, even if one receives payment for doing so. However sewing which is done for payment is not currently evident that it is being done for the sake of Shabbos, and is thus only allowed to be done free of charge. (Furthermore, in addition to that sewing for payment is not evident that it is being done for Shabbos, when payment is taken, it is considered that the sewer is doing so merely for the money and not for the sake of Shabbos at all.) [ibid] It requires further analysis on what the novelty of Admur is here in the parentheses, is it a totally new reason or is it an explanation of why it is not evident? Seemingly it is an additional reason which without it the law would not be understood. Meaning Admur holds that if either the activity is evident to others that it is being done for the sake of Shabbos [as by a haircut], or is not evident to others, but in truth is being done for the sake of Shabbos [as by sewing for free], it is allowed. Thus he explains why when sewing for payment it is forbidden as it is not evident, and one’s intention is not for Shabbos.

[27] The above hours are calculated in accordance to Shaaos Zmaniyos, in which one divides the total amount  of day hours by 12 in order to calculate the amount of minutes in each hour. One then times that by 2.5 and the result is the amount of minutes prior to sunset that the prohibition begins.

[28] This matter is disputed as mentioned above. The Ketzos Hashulchan [69/6] rules in accordance to the opinion which holds of Mincha Ketana, which is 2.5 hours prior to sunset. Nevertheless one who is stringent from midday, has room for his stringency.

[29] Mishneh Berurah 251/3-Shaareiy Tziyon 4; brought also in Ketzos Hashulchan 69 footnote 117

[30] Ketzos Hashulchan 69 footnote 18

[31] As if one were to refuse the gentile he would cancel the payment arraignment which is considered a matter which would cause him a loss. [ibid]

[32] Ketzos Hashulchan 69 footnote 18

[33] Mishneh Berurah 251/6; Kaf Hachayim 251/17

[34]As rules Admur in 151/3 that even a Mitzvah activity may only be done free of charge.

[35] SSH”K 42 footnote 129 leaves this matter in question as although it is recognizable that it is being done for the sake of Shabbos, nonetheless perhaps the Sages only permitted haircuts in exchange for payment as it is done to the body of the person. Vetzaruch Iyun. 

[36] SSH”K 42 footnote 129 leaves this matter in question as although it is recognizable that it is being done for the sake of Shabbos, nonetheless perhaps the Sages only permitted haircuts in exchange for payment as it is done to the body of the person. Vetzaruch Iyun. 

[37] Mateh Efrayim 625/9; M”B 625/2 [there he writes past midday it is forbidden, however according to the ruling of Admur one may always be lenient according to the opinion which holds Mincha means Mincha Ketana.]

[38] As a) It is for the need of Yom Tov, and B) It is for the sake of a Mitzvah. Vetzaruch Iyun from the wording of Mateh Efrayim and M”B ibid, although perhaps they were merely referring to by what time should one plan to have it built by, and not Bedieved if one did not yet do so.

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