6. The laws of puncturing a hole into a vessel on Shabbos

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6. The laws of puncturing a hole into a vessel on Shabbos [Halachas 6-10]

Important note 1: The following laws only relate to a hole which one intends to make in a vessel that he plans on continuing to use, and is thus fixing the vessel by doing so. However, if his intent is to break through the vessel to remove that which it contains then its laws will be discussed in Chapter 2 Halacha 1 under the laws of destroying.

Important Note 2: The following laws brought below [Halacha 6-10] is only with regards to vessels that do not hold 40 Seah and are not attached to the ground. If a vessel holds 40 Seah [or is attached to the ground] then it has the same laws as making a hole in a wall for all matters[1] which will be discussed in Chapter 2 Halacha 11 under the building prohibition-see there!


A. The Biblical prohibition:[2]

Making a hole in the walls or floor of one’s house:[3] One who hammers a peg into the wall in order to hang vessels and the like on it, is liable for [the] building [prohibition]. [Furthermore] even if one did not [yet] hammer the peg [into the wall] but drilled a hole in the wall in which the peg will be inserted into, he is liable for [the] building [prohibition] on this hole [that he drilled] since this hole is an accessory for the building which is the inserting the peg. Similarly, one who makes a hole in the floor of his house to drain out the water is liable for [the] building [prohibition].[4]

Making a hole for entering and exiting in an item detached from the ground:[5] However, one who makes a hole in an item that is detached [from the ground] he is not liable, unless the hole was made in order to have items entered through it and taken out from it. For example, the hole that is made in a chicken coop which is not attached to the ground, which is made in order to enter light and let out air, this hole is a complete opening, and one is liable in making it for the “Fixing a vessel” [prohibition] which is an offshoot of the “Makeh Bepatish” prohibition, as explained in chapter 302 [Halacha 5]. Whether one made a hole in [a plank of] wood or metal[6] or in a vessel, he is liable on doing so for [the] “Finishing Touch” [prohibition], if the hole is made in order to enter things through it and to take things out from.

The prohibition to intentionally make an elegant opening for the vessel:[7] [However, this stipulation by a vessel which is detached from the ground, that it is only Biblically prohibited to make a hole if the hole is meant for inserting and removing is only] as long as that [upon making the hole] one does not intend to puncture it into a nice hole so that it be an elegant [looking] opening for [the barrel].[8] However, if one does do so then he has fixed the vessel [on Shabbos] and is liable for [the] “Making a Finishing Touch[9]” [prohibition].[10]

Making a hole in a vessel which can hold 40 Seah:[11] A large barrel or other large vessels which hold 40 seah carry with them the building and destroying [prohibition], and has the same law as a wall.


B. The Rabbinical prohibition in making a hole for entering or exiting:[12]

[The above was only with regards to the Biblical prohibition, However,] the Sages decreed [against making] any hole [on Shabbos] even if it is made only for removing items from it or only for entering items into it. [The reason for this is] because [if this were to be allowed] one may come to make a [type of] hole that he is liable on [which means a hole that is meant for entering and exiting]. Due to this [decree] one may not puncture a new hole in a barrel for the wine to flow from [this hole]. [Furthermore] even if it already has a hole and one [simply] wants to add to it and slightly widen it, it is forbidden.

Making a hole in order to remove the content of the item and then throw out the item[13]: It is allowed to break an un-sturdy vessel in order to remove its content so long as one does not intend to make a nice hole. However, by a sturdy vessel it is forbidden to break it even in a way that one is not making for it a nice opening, because breaking a complete structure is forbidden even by vessels that are not attached to the ground. Furthermore [another reason it is forbidden to make a hole in a sturdy vessel] is due to a decree that one may come to intend to puncture in it a nice hole in order so that it have an elegant opening. See Chapter 2 Halacha 13 “The laws of destroying vessels” for the full details of this subject. 


Summary-Making a hole in a vessel not attached to the ground which does not hold 40 Seah:

Important Note: See note 1&2 above

Biblically: Is Biblically forbidden due to the prohibition of fixing a vessel when made for both entering and removing items through it[14], or when intentionally made into an elegant hole[15]. It never carries with it the building prohibition.[16]

Rabbinically: Is Rabbinically forbidden when made for only entering items into, or for only removing items through it[17].

May one widen an already existing hole? It carries the same laws as one who initially makes the hole on Shabbos both by walls and vessels.[18] 


It is permitted to make a hole in a vessel if all the following conditions are fulfilled:

1. One plans to throw out the vessel after removing its content, rather than fix a hole in the vessel for permanent use.[19]

2. One does not intend to make a nice hole.[20]

3. The vessel is defined as an un-sturdy structure. [21]



May one ask a gentile to make a hole inside a vessel on Shabbos?

If he does not plan on throwing out the vessel then it is forbidden. See Chapter 2 Summary of “The laws of destroying vessels” [Halacha 13-16] and Q&A there! 


[1] See 314:5 and 313:17-18

[2] Admur 314:2

[3] Admur ibid; Taz 314:2; Terumos Hadeshen 64; Based on Rav in Shabbos 103 and Rashi there; See Michaber 314:12

Other opinions: Some write one transgresses the prohibition of Makeh Bepatish by hammering a nail into the wall. [M”B 314:8 based on Shmuel in Shabbos ibid] However, see M”B 314:11 and 52 that making a hole in a wall is prohibited due to Boneh.

[4] Admur ibid; M”A 314:3 in name of Rashdam 4; M”B 314:8

[5] Admur ibid; M”A 314:3 in name of Rambam 23:1; Raba in Shabbos 146a; M”B 314:8

The reason: Some say this is because it is not the common practice to make a hole in only one direction, and hence if it is common practice then even one direction would be a Biblcial prohibition. [Shaar Hatziyon 314:9] However, Admur writes the reason is because it is not considered a complete opening, Vetzaruch Iyun as in 302:5 Admur rules that even a partial fixing is considered a Biblical prohibition of Makeh Bepatish. Thus, one must say that this only applies when one is doing the partial fixing of a full job of fixing. If, however, the partial fixing is faulty then it is similar to a shinuiy and one is not Chayav.

[6] Vetzaruch Iyun from Halacha 14 that when such a hole is made on the cover a barrel one is not Biblically liable because it can be removed. Perhaps However, this refers to making a hole in them for purposes of keeping items inside the hole and for removing them.

[7] Admur 314:1; Michaber 314:1; Mishneh Shabbos 146a and Rashi there; Beitza 33

[8] See Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 17 footnote 131 that the definition is any specific form of hole that benefits the person. Vetzaruch Iyun from the added words of Admur “so that it be an elegant [looking] opening for it [the barrel]” which implies that only if the opening makes the vessel look elegant is it forbidden.

[9] Lit. “Hitting with a hammer”. This refers to any finishing touch that one does to a vessel.

[10] Admur ibid; P”M 314 M”Z 1

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one is only Biblically liable by a nice hole if it is made to enter and exit. [Taz 314:1; M”B 314:10]

[11] Admur 314:5; as well as 313:18, brought below in Chapter 2 Halacha 2B; Rama 314:1; Terumos Hadeshen 64; M”B 314:2

[12] Admur 314:3; M”A 314:3 in name of Rambam 23:1; Raba in Shabbos 146a; M”B 314:8

[13] Admur 314:1

[14] Admur 314:2

[15] Admur 314:1

[16] Admur 314:5

[17] Admur 314:3

[18] Admur 314:2 and 3

[19] Otherwise this is a problem of Tikkun Keli .

[20] Otherwise this is a problem of Tikkun Keli .

[21] Otherwise, this is a problem of Soser/Destroying.

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