Measuring on Shabbos-Part 1

Measuring on Shabbos:[1]

The prohibition:[2] It is forbidden to measure [or weigh[3]] anything on Shabbos [or Yom Tov[4]].[5] This applies whether with one’s hands or with a measuring tape [or with a vessel[6]].[7] This applies whether for business or personal related purposes.[8] [This applies whether one uses a mechanical or digital measuring item or weight machine.[9] Thus, on Shabbos one may not use a measuring cup or measuring spoon to measure how much of a spice to enter to a certain food.[10] Likewise, one may not measure his weight or height on Shabbos.[11] Accordingly, all instruments which are designated for measuring are Muktzah on Shabbos in the status of Keli Shemilachto Leissur, such as a ruler, measuring tape, measuring stick, scales.[12]]

Measuring with one’s hands by estimation:[13] It is forbidden to measure or weigh even with one’s hands, as stated above. However, it is permitted for one to measure or weigh “Beamud Hadas,” which means using one’s hands to evaluate the amount with a rough measurement. Thus, one may pick up a piece of meat to measure an estimate weight of it.[14] However, one may not pick up an item with a known weight in one hand and then lift up a second item in his second hand for the sake of comparing its weight.[15]

Measuring without purpose:[16] Even when measuring mundane matters that do not contain a mitzvah, the prohibition only applies if the intent of the measuring is for some purpose. If, however, one is measuring for no purpose of all, and is simply using the measuring tool Kimisasek [i.e. out of habit and boredom[17], or according to some Poskim[18] also for the sake of play and fun] then it is permitted to be done.

Using a measured vessel without intent to measure:[19] It is permitted for one to use a vessel which contains a specific measure for food on Shabbos so long as one has no intent to measure the content upon using it [even if one intends that it be a full vessel of food]. [Accordingly, one may fill up an entire cup with a drink in order to drink the entire cup. Likewise, one may fill an entire teaspoon with sugar or coffee with specific intent of this amount.[20] Furthermore, one may use a measuring cup to have a drink if one is not intending to measure anything in it.[21] Likewise, one may use a baby formula spoon which contains measuring lines to scoop up formula for a baby if one does not intend to take a specific amount.[22]]

Measuring food for animals:[23] It is forbidden to measure food for his animals.[24] Rather one is to give the animal food based on a rough estimation.


May two people measure who is taller, back to back?[25]


May one measure length or height by comparing it to an item with a known length or height?[26]


May one measure the length of a floor by counting how many tiles it contains?[27]

This matter requires further analysis.

Coming up in Part 2:

Measuring for the sake of a Mitzvah


[1] See Admur 306:18; 308:88; 323:1; 324:2; Regarding Yom Tov: 456:9; 504:9; 506:1; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24-25

[2] Admur 306:18 “It is forbidden to measure anything on Shabbos”; 308:88 “Clocks, the custom has spread to forbid moving it….because [its main function for which] it was produced [is] to measure the time or the shadow [of the sun], and it is thus synonymous to the measuring that is prohibited to do on Shabbos.”; 323:1 “It is forbidden to mention the measurement when borrowing something, such as a measurement of wine, as it is considered a mundane act for the lender to measure for him that which he is asking, as it is forbidden to measure anything on Shabbos due to it being a mundane act and desecration of Shabbos.” 324:2 One may not measure barley to give to his animals… as measuring is prohibited on Shabbos due to it being considered a mundane act.”; Michaber 306:7; Rambam Shabbos 23:13; Ula in Shabbos 157b

[3] See Admur 500:6

[4] Admur 456:9“If one desires to kneed dough on Yom Tov, one must beware to measure the flour from before Yom Tov, as on Yom Tov itself it is forbidden to measure even for the sake of a Mitzvah”; 504:9 “Even though it is forbidden to measure on Yom Tov”; 506:1It is forbidden to measure on Yom Tov due to Uvdin Dechol”; Michaber 506:1; Shmuel Beitza 29a; M”B 618:21; Kaf Hachaim 486:3; 618:37, 45; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:25

[5] The reason: As this is considered a mundane act and desecration of Shabbos [i.e. Maaseh Chol Vezlizul Deshabbos]. [Admur 306:18; 323:1; 324:2; 506:1 regarding Yom Tov; M”A 306:16; Tosafus Shabbos 126b] As it appears like one is selling. [Admur 506:1; Rashi Beitza 29a] See Chasam Sofer Shabbos; Keren Ledavid 72; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24

[6] Admur 323:1

[7] Admur 306:18; 500:1 regarding weight

[8] Admur 324:2; 323:1; 506:1 regarding Yom Tov

[9] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24

[10] See 504:9 for letter of law in previous times, and law today regarding Yom Tov, however, regarding Shabbos this would certainly always be forbidden; See also M”B 504:22

[11] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 162

[12] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 167

[13] Admur 324:2 regarding barley for animals; 456:9 and 506:1 regarding flour; 500:6 regarding weighing meat

[14] Admur 500:2

[15] Admur 500:1

[16] Admur 306:19; Raba Bar Rav Huna Shabbos 157b and Rashi ibid; Avi Haezri in Tur 306; Kaf Hachaim 306:64; See Igros Kodesh 20:341

[17] Pirush Rabbeinu Chananel; Igros Kodesh 20:341 that so is the implication of Admur ibid

[18] Tur ibid in name of the Avi Haezr; See Igros Kodesh 20:341 for both possible interpretations in Misasek, with the second explanation being the opinion of the Tur ibid in name of the Avi Haezri

[19] See Admur 323:1; Rama 323:1; Beitza 29a and Rashi there

[20] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24

[21] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24

[22] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 166

[23] Admur 324:2

[24] The reason: As measuring even for non-business related matters is forbidden due to it being a mundane act. [ibid]

[25] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 162

[26] Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 162

[27] SSH”K 29 footnote 94; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:24 footnote 163

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