12. The prohibition of plugging a hole on Shabbos

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12. The prohibition of plugging a hole on Shabbos:[1]

The law: Just like it is forbidden to puncture any hole due to the decree of fixing a vessel as was explained above [in Halacha 3], so too it is forbidden to plug any hole being that this is similar to fixing a vessel.

Plugging it with wax, cloth, and a non-Muktzah rock:[2] Therefore it is forbidden to plug the hole of a barrel even with a material that does not smear[3] and that does not involve one coming to [transgress the] squeezing [prohibition][4], such as for example plugging it with a pebble or pieces of wood which was prepared for this use from before Shabbos and is thus not forbidden to be moved [i.e. is not Muktzah].

Plugging it with food and the like in order to hide the food in the hole: However, if one places a given food or anything of the like into the hole in order to hide it there, and this consequently also plugs up the hole, then it is allowed.

Cunningly stuffing the hole with food: [Furthermore] it is allowed for a Torah Scholar to connive and use this loophole to plug the hole with a given food or anything of the like, and then tell to anyone who sees him doing this that he only intends to hide [the food in the hole].

The reason for why a Torah Scholar may do is: because even if he would do this in a non-conniving way [meaning that] he would tell them [his true intentions that] he is doing so to plug it, [nevertheless] this would [still] only be a Rabbinical prohibition [and thus we do not prohibit him to connive in doing so].

As well [in addition to the above it is allowed] because being he is a Torah Scholar [allowing him to connive in doing this] will not lead him to [eventually] do it in a non-conniving way.

May an ignoramus also cunningly stuff with food? However, by an ignoramus [the Sages] did not allow him to connive [in doing this] because he may come to do so even in a non-conniving way, [meaning that] he will not say at all that he is doing so in order to hide [the food], but rather in order to stuff the hole.

Other Opinions: [However,] there are opinions which allow this to be done even by an ignoramus.

The Final Ruling: One may rely on the latter opinion to be lenient by Torah Scholars, to allow them to connive in doing this even in today’s times that we no longer have people that are categorized as [true] Torah Scholars with regards to other issues.

Plugging a hole with a commonly used material:[5] All the above is with regards to stuffing the hole with an item which is not common to stuff with, However, it is permitted to plug it with [a type of] wood that is commonly used as a plug, such as to plug a tap into the hole made to take out wine through, even if it is not made to be opened and closed regularly but rather only on distant occasions.[6]

The reason for this is: because it does not appear like one is fixing a vessel with this stuffing since it is always commonly stuffed with this wood. However, an item which has not been made into a tap is forbidden to plug the hole which is made to remove the wine through[7] [even] if the tap got lost, unless one is a Torah Scholar which is cunningly doing so as was explained.


Regarding plugging a hole using wax, fat or other smear able materials-See “The Laws of Mimacheik-Smearing”


Summary-May one plug up the hole of a vessel on Shabbos?[8]

With items not commonly used for plugs: Is forbidden to be done with uncommon plugging materials due to it being similar to fixing a vessel. However, it is permitted for one to place food [other than fat and congealed oil[9]] and other items of the like into the hole if one’s intention is to conceal the items rather than stuff the hole. A Torah scholar may even enter the above items with intention to stuff the hole as long as he lets others know that his intention is to conceal the item.

With items that are commonly used as plugs: Is permitted to plug a hole with a commonly used plug even if one plans to leave it there for some time.


[1] Admur 314:20; Michaber 314:11

[2] Admur ibid; Rambam 23:3; Bach; Poskim in M”B 314:47

Other opinions: The Michaber ibid rules that one may always stuff the hole which is above the wine, and hence wine does not leek through. Vetzaruch Iyun in Admur which at first rules like the Rambam which forbids all types of holes without differentiation, and then in the end of the Halacha writes that it is forbidden to stuff the hole which wine leaves through, hence implying that by other holes it is allowed.

[3] Such as soft wax and the like

[4] Meaning that it is not an absorbing material such as is a cloth, and thus it has no worry that one may come to squeeze it.

[5] Admur ibid; M”A 314:15; M”B 314:48

[6] Nevertheless, the above allowance is only to insert the tap semi-firmly, and only if the barrel does not hold 40 Seah. [M”B 314:20; Tehila Ledavid 314:15-16  See next!]

[7] Vetzaruch Iyun as this implies that by other holes it is allowed in which the wine does not leave through this is allowed. This follows the Michaber ibid. Now, in the beginning of this Halacha Admur rules like the Rambam which forbids all types of holes without differentiation. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[8] Halacha 20

[9] Halacha 21

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