Placing door handles into a door on Shabbos?
- Case example: The handle fell off my door and I have no way of opening it, or closing and then opening it, unless the handle is reinserted. may I do so on Shabbos?
Building or fixing an item on Shabbos enters into the question of the Biblical prohibition of building [i.e. Boneh] and/or fixing [i.e. Makeh Bepatish, or Tikkun Keli]. In some circumstances, fixing an item is prohibited under Biblical law, while in other circumstances it is forbidden only due to Rabbinical law, and in other circumstances is permitted to be done and is not viewed as a prohibited form of fixing at all. The general law is as follows: Assembling parts together in a firm and professional way for the sake of permanently fixing or building an item, is under the Biblical building prohibition. Assembling parts together in a loose way, or for only temporary attachment, is merely under Rabbinical prohibition if the item is not attached to the ground, while if it is attached to the ground then it is under Biblical prohibition even if the attachment his loose. Assembling parts together very loosely is even initially allowed if this is the common way of how it is assembled. Likewise, if the assembled parts are only meant to last a very short while, as they are made to be constantly removed and replaced within that same day, then it is even initially permitted to be assembled on Shabbos. This applies even by items attached to the ground.
In general, it is Biblically forbidden to insert a door handle into the socket of a door on Shabbos. Accordingly, if a handle fell out of the door on Shabbos, it is forbidden to be replaced. In such a case, the handle becomes completely Muktzah [Muktzah Machmas Gufo], and may not be moved for any purpose in its regular method [excluding a Shinuiy]. Nonetheless, in the following cases, and in the following methods, there is room for leniency:
- Using a knife, screwdriver or other tool to open the door: It is permitted to enter a screwdriver, knife, or other tool, into the socket of the door handle for the sake of opening the door.
- If one commonly removes and reinsert the handle whenever he opens/closes the door: A door handle that is made in a recognizable way then it is meant to be constantly removed and reinserted to open and close the door, then it is allowed to be inserted or removed on Shabbos, as it is similar to a key, and is not made to last at all as a permanent fixture of the door. [If, however it is a regular looking door handle and the common way that one chooses to open and close his door is by removing and reinserting it, then it is subject to the same discussion as a loose handle which constantly falls off, as brought next.]
- A loose handle which constantly falls off: If the handle is only loosely fit into the door, and hence constantly falls off, then some Poskim suggest that it is permitted to have it reinserted on Shabbos. Nonetheless, they conclude that it is best to have it initially inserted at least partially by a child, and if needed, the adult can then fully insert the rest of the handle. [Practically, it is best in such a case not to reinsert the handle on Shabbos if it is not necessary, and to rather use a screwdriver and the like to open the door. Nonetheless, those who are lenient in the above case have upon whom to rely.]
- If one inserts the handle with intent to immediately remove: It is forbidden to reinsert the handle even with intent to immediately remove it after opening the door. Practically, this is not to be done and rather one is to use a screwdriver and the like to open the door.
It is forbidden to insert a door handle into a door on Shabbos, with exception to the following cases:
1. If the common way one opens and closes his door is by removing and reinserting the door handle.
2. If the handle is only loosely fit into the door, and hence constantly falls off, then some Poskim are lenient.
Using a screwdriver or other tool to open the door: It is permitted to enter a screwdriver, or other tool, into the socket of the door handle for the sake of opening the door.
What is one to do in a case that it is forbidden to return the handle and there is someone locked inside?
If a person is locked in the room, then a tool, such as a screw driver, is to be entered into the socket to open the door. If this is not possible, then if a baby is stuck in the room, one may even enter the handle into the socket. If an ill person or elderly man is stuck in the room, then if there could be potential danger of life involved if the door is not opened, then one is to do so. If there is no danger of life apparent for the person to remain in the room, the handle is not to be inserted.
May one ask a gentile to return the handle to the door for the sake of opening it?
Seemingly it is forbidden to ask the gentile to reinsert the handle. However, if there is a great need to open the door, or not doing so will cause a nullification of Oneg Shabbos, such as he will not be able to eat the Shabbos meals, then one may be lenient to ask the gentile to break open the lock or break the door. However if possible it is best to have a child ask the gentile to do so. Regarding asking the gentile to remove the door from its sockets, seemingly according to Admur this should be avoided, however there are Poskim who rule that it is permitted.
 See Ashel Avraham Butchach 313; SSH”K 20:45; 23:37 [new]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 308:12 [old]; 313:3 [new]
 See Admur 302:5; Mishneh Shabbos 73a; Shulchan Aruch Chapters 313-314;
Which prohibition is transgressed upon building/fixing an item, the building prohibition or fixing prohibition? In general, the building prohibition relates to building or fixing items that are attached to the ground, while the fixing prohibition relates to moveable items. [See Admur 314:17; Rashi Shabbos 47a] Nonetheless, we find that even by movable items the act of fixing them can be considered under the building prohibition and not the fixing prohibition. [See Admur 302:5 that fixing an item falls under the fixing of vessel prohibition. However see Admur 313:19-20 that it transgresses the building prohibition; Admur 313:14 regarding returning doors of a moveable vessel to hinges that one is “liable for [transgressing the] building [prohibition], or [the] “final blow’ [prohibition]”] Practically, this matter is debated amongst the Poskim, with some ruling that fixing or building an item consists of the building prohibition with others ruling that it consists of the fixing of a vessel prohibition. [See Admur 314:17] According to the former approach, it requires further clarity to understand what consists of the fixing the vessel prohibition according to their opinion.
 Admur 313:19-20; Michaber 313:6 and 9; M”A 313:11; Yerushalmi Shabbos 12:1; Rashi 47a
 So rule regarding assembling in a semi loose method that it is Rabbinical: Admur 313:19 and 21; Michaber and Rama 313:6 as explained in M”B 313:43 and 46; M”A 313:12 in name of Beis Yosef; M”B 313:43; So rule regarding assembling even very loosely if the common way is to assemble it strongly that it is nevertheless Rabbinically forbidden: Admur 313:21; Rama 313:6; So rule regarding assembling even strongly but for a temporary basis that it is only Rabbinically forbidden: Admur 313:20; Beitza 32; See Minchas Yitzchak 4:122
Other opinions: The Chazon Ish argues on the ruling of the Rama/Admur and rules that if it’s weakly attached then it’s always allowed to assemble it even if it is common to attach it strongly. The Sheivet Halevy 6:32 argues on the Chazon Ish and answers his questions on the Rama’s ruling. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 313:1]
 Admur 314:17, Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 4
 Admur 313:21; Rama 313:6
Other opinions: The Chazon Ish argues on this ruling of the Rama/Admur and rules that if it’s weakly attached then it’s always allowed to attach it. The Sheivet Halevy 6:32 argues on the Chazon Ish and answers his questions on the Rama’s ruling. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 313:1]
 Admur 313:21; see also 314:19; M”A 313:12; Taz 313:7; M”B 313:45; Aruch Hashulchan 313:31; Minchas Yitzchak 4:122
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that to strongly assemble parts together is forbidden even if it is meant not to last at all. [Tehila Ledavid; Chazon Ish]
 See Admur 314:19
 See Ashel Avraham Butchach 313; SSH”K 20:45; 23:37 [new]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 308:12 [old]; 313:3 [new]
 If it is strongly inserted, similar to how it is inserted when initially built, then it is under a Biblical building prohibition. Furthermore, even if it is inserted only slightly firmly, it would still be under the Biblical building prohibition, being that the door is attached to the ground. [See Admur 314:17, Ketzos Hashulchan 119 footnote 4] However, see Admur 259:7 who rules at the door of an item attached to the ground is only under rabbinical prohibition, enhance perhaps likewise replacing the door handle in a semi loose way would only be under a Rabbinical prohibition. Vetzaruch Iyun! Practically, the Piskeiy Teshuvos 313:3 concludes that if it is returned in only a weak way, without strengthening it inside the socket, then it is only Rabbinically forbidden, while if it is inserted strongly and screwed in with its screw then it is biblically forbidden.
 SSH”K 20:45; 23:37; Piskeiy Teshuvos 313:3; So rule regarding if the door of a home fell out of its hinges and the same would apply regarding a door handle: Admur 308:35; Shabbos ibid; M”A 308:38; M”B 308:35 [See SSH”K 20 footnote 167 who writes that it is Muktzah for this reason as it is no different than the door. However, see Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 13 and 308:24 who learns that it is only Muktzah being that it is forbidden to be fixed. Vetzaruch Iyun on his understanding.]
 SSH”K 23:37 in gloss; Piskeiy Teshuvos 308:12
 As it is permitted to use a Keli Shemilachto Lissur for a permitted purpose on Shabbos.
 The reason: As this item is not meant to last at all within the door and his hand similar to entering a key into a door for the sake of opening and closing it. [See Admur 314:19]
 SSH”K 23:32 [37 in new]; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid and ibid
 Ashel Avraham Butchach 313; See Orchos Chayim 313:3 who says that in such a case it is more lenient; SSH”K 20:43 however leaves this matter un-ruled.
 The reason: As seemingly this is similar to a door of a pit which is not made to last at all, which does not contain the destroying prohibition. [Admur 314:19] and thus here too since he knows that his re-insertion will not last at all, then it would be permitted to be done. On the other hand, perhaps we rule that since the handle is meant to remain by a door on a permanent basis it appears like one is building even in a case that it is made to be constantly removed and replaced, similar to the ruling against placing a peg by a door, brought in Admur 313:3. [See Ashel Avraham ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 313:3 footnote 15]
 Ashel Avraham ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid concludes that one should be stringent
 On the one hand one can argue that since it will not last at all inside of the door then it does not consist of any building prohibition, as rules Admur 314:19. On the other hand one can argue that since this is an item that is meant to remain attached for a while onto the door, it is therefore Rabbinically forbidden to be done less one come to leave it in the handle and transgress. [See Admur 313:21 for a similar decree against inserting semi loosely] In addition, the handle is Muktzah and hence may not be lifted and inserted irrelevant of the building prohibition. Practically, I have not seen this possible allowance recorded in any of the Poskim, hence lending to the notion that it is forbidden. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 313 footnote 13 that it may only be inserted in an irregular manner
Inserting the handle in a irregular manner: Some Poskim rule that if the handle is not easily fixable for it to remain there in a permanent way, then it is permitted to insert the handle in an irregular manner in order to open the door, such as by putting it in upside down, or only inserting it to the very tip of the socket, As there is no chance that it will remain there on a permanent basis. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 313 footnote 13-14, based on his understanding that the handle is only considered Muktzah if it is easily fixable.] Practically, however, this is not to be done being at the handle is considered Muktzah, as we have explained. [See previous footnotes that it has the status of a door of a house, and hence is not dependent on whether or not it is easily fixable.]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 308:12
 The reason: As one may even destroy the door in order to get to a baby out, as this is considered Sakana. [Admur 328:15]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 As then this is a case of actual Shvus [building through a gentile], which even the Ashel Avraham did not permit. Vetzaruch Iyun why the handle is not considered a Shevus even for a Jew, similar to the door of a pit which is only a shevus, as rules Admur in 259:7.
 As in such a case it is Shvus Deshvus, as destroying without intent to rebuild is only Rabbinically forbidden.
 Ashel Avraham Butshesh 314. See also 313:17. Now, although there Admur concludes to be stringent, that is because one intends to replace the window back, and it is thus done with intent to rebuild, just not in a better way. Here however it is being destroyed without any intent whatsoever to rebuild.
 313:17 as one intends to return the door to its socket, and it is thus a mere Shvus and not Shvus Deshvus.
 Ashel Avraham ibid. as the gentile himself does not have intent to return it.