1. Biblical prohibition of making a permanent knot

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1. The Biblical prohibition of making a permanent knot:

The Principal Prohibition that was in the Mishkan:[1] Tying and untying are amongst the principal [forbidden] actions[2], being that in the [process of building the] Tabernacle, the fishermen for the chilazon would tie and untie their nets.[3] As all nets are made of many knots and these knots are permanent, and at times [the fishermen] would need to remove a rope from one net and add it to another net and [he would thus] untie it from [the first net] and [then] tie it [on the second net], [and thus we see that there existed both tying and untying in the works done for the Tabernacle].[4]

One is only liable on a permanent knot? Biblically one is only liable [on making] a permanent knot[5] [called a Kesher Shel Kayama] which is made to last forever[6], which means that he ties it with intention that it remain [tied] as long as it is able to exist and as long that he does not need to untie it.[7]

If one changed his mind to undo the knot: Now, although it is possible that he [may] need to untie it in a [very] short time and will thus untie it, nevertheless since when he ties it he does not set a date in his mind for when he will un-tie it, and it is [thus] possible that it will remain [tied] forever, [therefore] it is considered a permanent knot, and one is liable on tying it and on untying it. However, if one sets in his mind a designated time in which he will then certainly untie the knot, then even if this [designated time] is in a very long time [from now], it is not Biblically considered [a] permanent [knot] and he is [thus] exempt [from liability] whether upon tying it or untying it.

First Opinion-Biblical liability is only applicable by professional knots:[8] There are opinions[9] which say that one is [never] Biblically liable even on a knot that is meant to last forever unless it has been professionally done, which means that it is a strong and tough knot similar to the knots that the professionals make during their work[10], such as the knots of the straps for shoes and sandals which the strap makers tie at the time of making them, and the same applies for all similar cases. However, one who ties a permanent knot which is not professionally done is exempt [from liability]. For example, a strap broke and one tied it, [or a] rope tore and one tied it, or one tied a rope to a bucket or one tied an animal leash [to an animal] and so too all cases [of knots] similar to these knots which are made by amateurs [then] any person who ties them permanently is exempt [from liability].

Second Opinion -No difference between a professional and amateur knot:[11] Some opinions[12] rule that there is no difference at all between a professionally made and amateur made [knot], as even on an amateur knot one is Biblically liable if made to permanently last, and if [a knot] is designated to not last at all [then] in a situation that it is [thus] allowed to make an amateur knot then it is also allowed to make a professional knot.



What is the law of a knot that was tied without any specific intent?

Seemingly, we follow the general intent of this knot, and thus if it is always commonly left to be tied forever, or until one changes his mind to untie it, then he is liable.[13] If, however, it is at times common and at times is not common, then Tzaruch Iyun if he is liable.[14] If however it is always common to untie the knot, then he is not liable.


What is the law of a knot that was tied with intent to undo and one then changed his mind to leave it forever?[15]

In a case that it is not common to leave this knot there forever then there is never a Biblical prohibition involved.[16] Vetzaruch Iyun if there is a Biblical prohibition involved in a case that it is common, or even always common, to at times leave it tied forever in this position.[17]


Is a knot that can be undone with one hand considered a Maaseh Uman or Hedyot?[18]

From some Poskim[19] it is understood that it is considered a Maaseh Hedyot, and is hence subject to the dispute mentioned above in regards to its Biblcial status.[20] However, some Poskim[21] rule it is considered a Maaseh Uman even if it can be undone with one hand, so long as it last forever and will not untie on its own.

Is it Biblically forbidden to untie a knot when done without intent to re-tie?[22]

This matter is disputed amongst Rishonim.[23] Practically one is liable.[24] Thus a permanent knot may never be untied on Shabbos even through a gentile, even in a case of need.

May an amateur permanent knot be tied or untied by a gentile in times of need?[25]




[1] Admur 317:1; Shabbos 73a and 74b

[2] Admur ibid; Mishneh Shabbos 73a

[3] Admur ibid; Rava in Shabbos 74b

Other opinions: The Gemara ibid gives two other options of the Av Melacha a) The tying of the ropes of the tapestries to the pegs of the Mishkan. 2) The tying of torn threads in the process of making the tapestries. The Gemara asks on each Melacha stating that the tying of ropes to the pegs is not a Kesher Shel Kayama, as it was untied each time the Mishkan moved. Likewise, the tying of the threads of the sewing only contains the tying Melacha and not the untying Melacha and hence cannot serve as the source for the Av Melacha. Vetzaruch Iyun why we don’t learn the Av Melacha from the pegs, and simply learn that even a Kesher that is not Shel Kayama is Biblically forbidden? 

[4] Admur ibid; Rashi Shabbos ibid

[5] Admur ibid; Michaber 317:1; Mishneh Shabbos 113a

[6] Admur ibid; Taz 317:1; M”A 317:1; Tur and Beis Yosef 317; Rashi 11b; M”B 317:1

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that it is considered a permanent knot if it is made to last over a month, or over half a year or a year. [Beis Yosef 317 in one explanation of Rashi, brought in M”A 317:1; Rabbeinu Yerucham 14:12; See P”M 317 A”A 1]

[7] The reason: The reason why the Torah only prohibited a permanent knot is because only then is a true connection and unity made, and thus if one plans to undo the knot, even in a very long time, it is no longer a true unity and hence it is not a Melacha at all. For this reason there is no prohibition of “Chetzi Shiur” in making a knot to last for only some time. [Likkutei Sichos 14:16-17]

[8] Admur 317:2

[9] Rif 41b; Rambam [Shabbos 10:1] and Michaber 317:1

[10] So rules Taz. However, see Biur Halacha which learns that a professional knot is defined as a knot which will not be undone on its own, even if it can be undone with a single hand. The Nafka Mina between these two opinions is regarding making a loose double knot to untie on the same day, to which according to Admur would be permitted as opposed to in accordance to the Mishneh Berurah.

[11] Admur 317:2

[12] Rosh 15:1, Rashi, Tur; Rama 317:1

[13] So is implied from Admur 317 1 “Now, although it is possible that he [may] need to untie it in a [very] short time and will thus untie it, nevertheless since when he ties it he does not set a date in his mind for when he will un-tie it, and it is [thus] possible that it will remain [tied] forever”; Likewise this is implied from the ruling brought next regarding the Rabbinical prohibition: “However knots that are always for certain left [tied] for a certain amount of time and it is never usual to untie it that same day, then it is forbidden to tie them on Shabbos even casually or to untie them.”; So is also implied from 316 [Michaber 316:8; Admur 316:?] regarding the trapping prohibition that we follow the general intent of the trapping in regards to defining it as Melacha Shetzricha Legufo.

[14] From the wording of Admur ibid it is implied that he is liable even in such a case as “when he ties it he does not set a date in his mind for when he will un-tie it, and it is [thus] possible that it will remain [tied] forever”; On the other hand, in the continuation of 317:1 regarding the Rabbinical prohibition he rules that if at times it is untied within the week or within the day, then it may be tied Setam. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[15] Based on Admur 317:10

[16] So is clearly implied from 317:1, and 317:10 and many other Halachos 

[17] From the fact we make a decree against tying such a knot that is commonly left forever even with intent to undo it seems that it is a Biblical prohibition to change one’s mind, however see P”M 317 A”A 20 which implies it is not a Biblical prohibition as he states “One can say it is forbidden, but one is not liable for a Chatas”

[18] See Mishneh Shabbos 111b; Biur Halacha 317:1 “Hakosher”

[19] Taz 317:1; Admur ibid “unless it has been professionally done, which means that it is a strong and tough knot similar to the knots that the professionals make during their work”

[20] According to this approach it ends up that the Rambam; Rif and Michaber rule like Rebbe Meir in the Mishneh Shabbos 111b which states “any knot that can be undone with one hand one is exempt”, Vetzaruch Iyun as the Poskim explain that the Chachamim argue on Rebbe Meir and we rule like Chachamim, hence one must say that even according to the Rambam/Rif/Michaber, a one hand knot is considered a Maaseh Uman. Vetzaruch Iyun. [Biur Halacha ibid]

[21] M”B 317:1; Biur Halacha 317:1 “Hakosher”; This ruling is due to the fact that we do not rule like Rebbe Meir, as explained in the previous footnote, and one must hence conclude that even according to the Rambam/Rif/Michaber it is defined as a Maaseh Uman.

[22] Biur Halacha 317:1 “Dino Kemo”

[23] Some Rishonim hold it is Biblically forbidden even if performed without intent to retie. [Rashi in Shabbos 74b; brought in Tosafus Shabbos 71a] Other Rishonim however rule that it is only Biblically forbidden if one unties with intent to retie. [Rosh; Rabbeinu Chananel, brought in Tosafus ibid]

[24] Vetzaruch Iyun as in the Mishkan such knots were made with intent to re-tie?

[25] Peri Megadim 317 M”Z 5

[26] As this matter is disputed whether it contains a Biblical prohibition. This applies even if one were to hold that a Biblical doubt is only Rabbinical, as it nevertheless has a Torah root. [ibid]

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