Parsha Encounters



Parshas Shemini:

Shabbos and Yom Tov Away from Home

Rabbi Ephraim Friedman

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

In today’s age when people travel across the country and across the globe with great frequency, it is quite common that an individual will spend Shabbos or Yom Tov in a time zone which is different than that of his home. There are a number of interesting sha’alos in halacha which result from this and I will attempt to address some of these sha’alos.

Mechiras Cometz
One question which many people encounter this time of year is with regard to the sale of chometz. If you reside in America and will be spending Pesach in Israel, where do you sell your chometz? The simplest thing to do would be to contact your local Rav before your departure and authorize him to sell your chometz for you on Erev Pesach as usual. Perhaps, however, this is not the correct thing to do. For when the Rav sells your chometz in America at ten or eleven o’clock in the morning, at your current location in Israel it is already late in the afternoon, and the latest permissible time to own chometz has long passed. [Needless to say, your observance of the Yom Tov and its related laws and practices must be in accordance with the local time. This has nothing to do with the fact that an American visiting Israel for Pesach is obligated to observe two days of Yom Tov on both ends of the holiday.]

One might argue that although the observance of Pesach may have begun for you based on local Israeli time and you could not own any chometz which is located there, perhaps you may still retain ownership of chometz which is located in a part of the world where the prohibition has not yet begun. And in fact, one of the gedolei haAcharonim seems to take this position. See Sha’alos U’tshuvos Oneg Yom Tov 36 who discusses a reverse case where the prohibition of owning chometz has begun at the location of the chometz but not at the location of the owner. He rules that the halacha is determined by the location of the chometz and it is therefore rendered valueless in this case and must be destroyed.

However, the vast majority of Achronim disagree with this approach (although they may agree that one should be stringent in the above case and dispose of the chometz by the earlier time). They maintain that the main factor to consider is the location of the owner of the chometz. In as such, an American spending Pesach in Israel must arrange for his chometz to be sold prior to the zman issur hanoah according to Israeli time. (The simplest way to do this may be by arranging for mechiras chometz with a Rav in Israel once you arrive.) A resident of California who is spending Pesach in Chicago or New York should arrange for his chometz to be sold prior to the zman in the city where he will be located. At the same time, it is also proper that one not own any chometz located in a city where the zman has arrived, even if at the owner’s location the zman has not yet arrived. Therefore, an Israeli resident spending Pesach in America, or a New Yorker spending Pesach in L.A. should have his home town Rav sell on his behalf any chometz which he is leaving behind. In all such cases, one should stipulate with the Rav that he is not authorized to purchase the chometz back on his behalf until Pesach has ended in both of the two locations. (See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:94. See also Piskei Tshuvos 443:1 for many additional sources.)

Shvisas B’heima
A second area of halacha where time differences play a major role is that of shvisas b’heimah – the resting of animals on Shabbos. The Torah states that a Jew is obligated to see to it that any animals he owns are not made to do melacha on Shabbos. This halacha has relevance even for city dwellers with regard to pets. One’s pets may not be led to perform any melachos on Shabbos, including the melacha of hotzo’ah (carrying). If the animal walks outside with a tag hanging from its neck (such as one for identification purposes) the owner is in violation of this halacha – unless of course the area is enclosed by a valid eruv.

The following question must be addressed. If an animal owner is located in one time zone and his animals are located elsewhere, when are the halachos of shvisas b’heimah in effect: when it is Shabbos at the owner’s location or when it is Shabbos at the animal’s location? If I am in Israel for Shabbos and a neighbor in America is looking after my dog, may he walk that dog on Friday afternoon when it is already Shabbos for me, although the dog has a tag around its neck, or may he not?

This question is actually a subject of discussion in the writings of a number of Achronim. One of these Achronim (Sha’alos U’tshuvos L’vushei Mordechai Vol. 2:47) is inclined to rule that the animal’s location is the critical factor. According to this, in the above case it would be permissible for my American neighbor to walk my dog on Friday afternoon. However, the consensus of Achronim is to the contrary. They state that the location of the owner, not that of the animal, is what counts. Accordingly, if you leave your pet or other animal in the care of a neighbor, you would be well advised to bring to his attention that he shouldn’t have the animal do any melacha at a time that it is Shabbos for you. ( See Sha’arim Mitzuyanim B’halacha 87:1 and Ta’arich Yisroel Pg. 203 quoting HaGaonim Rav Elyashiv and Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a. See also pgs. 213-214 for a unique perspective on this matter from HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l.)

Other Areas
There are numerous other areas of halacha where a differnce in time zones may play an important role. For example:

T’chum Shabbos – The mishna in Mesechta Beitza (37a) states that one’s possessions are bound by the same t’chum as their owner. Consequently, if when Shabbos begins an article of mine is located somewhere outside of my t’chum, it is governed by the rule governing articles which have left their t’chum and may not be moved – by anyone – more than four amos. If an article of mine is located in a time zone different than mine when exactly does this restriction apply to it?
Neiros Chanukah – If one is away from home during Chanukah and his wife lights neiros in their home, he is yotzei the mitzvah as well. What will the halacha be if the husband is in a different time zone so that when his wife lights at home the evening has not yet arrived in his location? See Halichos Shlomo Vol.2 Chapter 13:4; Minchas Yitzchok 7:46; Moadei Yeshurun page 4 no. 8. (Note: In many cases the husband will be required to light at his current location even if his wife is lighting at their home within the same time zone. It is not our intention to provide any actual halachic guidance on this matter within this short paragraph.)

Oso V’es B’no – One may not slaughter a calf on the same day as the mother animal was slaughtered (Vayikra 22:28). If the mother animal was slaughtered in America at 3:00 P.M., may one immediately slaughter the calf in Israel where it is already the next day? See Meshech Chochmah (ad. loc.)

One who is faced with any of these sha’alos, or any one of a number of sha’alos which can arise as a result of travelling across the globe, should consult with a Rav who can provide him with proper direction.


Rabbi Friedman is a full-time member of the Kollel, as well as the Moreh Hora’ah of Beis HaMedrash Mikor HaChaim.

Halacha Encounters

Halacha Encounters

Clapping and Dancing on Shabbos

Rabbi Avi Weinrib

With Purim lingering in the air and the rest of Adar still to follow, feelings of joy and happiness permeate throughout our community. Memories of the singing and dancing on Purim cause one to break out in spontaneous eruptions of joy, especially on Shabbos. However, we have all heard about restrictions on Shabbos regarding clapping and dancing. What exactly are these restrictions, and what is the basis for them?

The Background

The Mishna in Beitza [36b] rules that it is forbidden to clap one's hands, bang on one's thighs or dance [on Yom Tov]. Tosfos explains [Shabbos 148b] that since these actions were generally done to the accompaniment of musical instruments, the Sages were concerned that if one of the instruments would break one might come to fix it on Yom Tov or Shabbos. Fixing an instrument on Yom Tov or Shabbos would be a violation of the Melacha D'Oraisa of Maka BiPatish. [As an aside R' Yerucham Levovitz [Daas Torah Chaya Sora 24-3] offers a fabulous insight as to why we see some of the decrees of Chazal as a bit farfetched. He explains that unfortunately we do not fully appreciate the severity of a sin and how detrimental it is to us. If we would only realize how serious sins are, we would fully understand why it was necessary to place so many fences around them. We can compare it to a train approaching a busy thoroughfare. Before it arrives, there are signs, flashing lights, and descending gates, which are there well before the train arrives, and go up only after there is no chance of any damage being done. Since the consequences of being struck by a speeding train are so severe, the more precautions there are, the better. How much more so is a sin, which is so damaging to our body and soul.  The Sages in their infinite wisdom saw it as necessary to place many safeguards around sin.] Most Poskim are of the opinion that this prohibition against repairing instruments would apply today as well. Tosafos [Beitzah 30a] maintains that since we are not experts in repairing instruments this forbiddance is no longer relevant. The Poskim struggle with Tosafos. Firstly, as a rule, even when the reason given no longer applies, unless a spiritually greater court would actually uproot the decree it would still be in effect. [See Bais Mayer 339-1 Igros Moshe O.H. 2 Siman 100]

Secondly, according to Tosafos would it also be permitted to actually play musical instruments as well? The consensus of the Poskim is that even according to Tosafos, only clapping and dancing would be permitted, and not the playing of actual instruments. [See Shut Shaar Ephraim 36 Eliyahu Raba O.H. 339-1 Biur Halacha ibid s.v. ulisspek]

The Halacha

The Shulchan Aruch [O.H. 339-3] rules that it is forbidden to clap one's hands, bang on one's thigh or dance on Shabbos. The Rema quoting Tosafos teaches that some say that nowadays, since we are no longer experts in repairing instruments the decree is no longer applicable. However, the Poskim do not fully concur with Tosafos. The Mishna Berura [S.K. 8] only permits this on Simchas Torah where clapping and dancing is a Mitzvah in honor of the Torah. However for any other reason, even other Mitzvos such as a Sheva Berachos it would not be permissible. [In many Chasidic circles the custom is more lenient based on the Minchas Elozer [Volume 1 Siman 29] who permits dancing and singing for those who are caught up in the joy of Shabbos since for them it is considered a Mitzvah.]

What is Dancing?

Stepping back for a moment, it is incumbent upon us to define what is included in the category of dancing. There is obviously a difference between walking around in a circle and dancing. The Toras Shabbos [O.H.339-2] based on a Yerushalmi defines dancing as the action when one picks up his first foot, then before it fully returns to the ground, the second foot has already begun to rise. Any form of moving around in a circle that would not include this would be permitted.

Only to the Tune?

The Aruch HaShulchan [339-9] raises another point. He maintains that the only clapping and dancing that was forbidden was where one is in tune with the song. Only in such a scenario is the clapping or dancing intrinsically connected to the song and there is a worry one could come to fix the broken instrument. Any form of clapping or dancing, which is sporadic and not done in tune, would be permitted. Although some Poskim disagree with the Aruch HaShulchan, many see this a basis for those who are lenient in these matters.

Banging and Snapping

Included in this decree would also be banging on a table or the like with or without any utensil. Snapping one's finger along with singing would also be included.

Clapping not Associated with Music

The Poskim rule that only clapping connected to song would be included. Clapping, snapping or banging to get another's attention, wake someone up or silence an audience would be permitted [ O.H. 338 Mishna Berura S. K. 2,4].  Clapping for applause would also be permitted [Oz Nidbiru  Vol 13-14].

In an Abnormal Fashion

Clapping and banging was only forbidden in a normal fashion. If done in an abnormal way, for instance clapping against the back of one's hand, this would be permitted, as it would serve as a reminder, and would not lead to fixing any instruments. [O.H. 339-3]


Any form of music with one's mouth was never included in the decree. Therefore one would be allowed to whistle a tune or melody on Shabbos. This would be true even with the aid of one's fingers [Aruch Hashulchan O.H. 338-7].

Door Knockers

Included in the decree was any instrument that is made for the express purpose of making noise, being that it is similar to a musical instrument.  Therefore it is forbidden on Shabbos to use a door knocker, bells, or play with a rattle even not in tune. However, one can knock on a door even with a utensil such as a key as long as not being done to a tune. [O.H. 338-1]

Rabbi Weinrib learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.

Now Available Online!

The Five Minute Hilchos Tefillah Shiur is available in Real Audio format on the Chicago Community Kollel website at:

Come and hear over 60 5-minute shiurim on the laws, customs and deeper meanings of our daily Tefillos.

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for a future edition of Halacha Encounters?  Please email with your questions or suggestions.






Copyright 1999 to present by Chicago Community Kollel