- Question: [Sunday, 1st Elul, 5782]
I was walking on Shabbos day with a friend of mine and his shabbos hat flew off his head. It was very hot and sunny outside. This entered us into the discussion regarding whether or not it is permitted for him to rewear the hat, which naturally protects him from the sun, and if doing so transgresses the prohibition of Ohel? If so, then what is one to do in such a case; stay next to his hat until the sun goes away?
There is no Halachic issue involved in wearing a Shabbat hat, even if it consequently protects one’s face from the sun. Thus, in the above scenario, there was no issue with your friend picking up the hat and placing it back onto his head, even though it also gives him shade from the sun.
Explanation: It is forbidden for one to make even a temporary tent on Shabbos for the sake of protection from the sun or rain and the like. Accordingly, the Poskim discuss whether the wearing of a hat to give protection from the sun falls under this prohibition or not, and if so then under which circumstance. Some Poskim rule that the prohibition does not apply to a hat at all. Other Poskim rule that it does apply to a hat, but only if it extends one handbreadth beyond the head, and only to a hat that is made with hard material. It is debated as to how hard the material must be to be subject to the prohibition, and some authorities rule that the prohibition only applies to a flat extension and not to one which is curved. The final ruling is that it is proper to be stringent in this matter. According to all opinions, the prohibition does not apply when wearing the hat for non-protection purposes, such as part of one’s dress code. Accordingly, there is no prohibition against wearing a Shabbos hat on Shabbos as part of one’s Shabbos dress code even though it also consequently protects him from the sun, as the main intent is for the purpose of the dress code. Accordingly, in the above case that one’s Shabbos hat flew off his head while walking under the sun, it remains permitted to put it back on and continue receiving protection from the sun, being that it is worn as part of one’s dress code and he would wear it even if the sun was not out.
Sources: See Admur 301:48; Michaber 301:40; Shabbos 138b; M”A 301:51; Taz 301:27; 315:8; M”B 301:152; Nimukei Orach Chaim 301:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 315:17