9. Unplugging the hole of a barrel of wine

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9. Unplugging the hole of a barrel of wine:[1]

A barrel [of wine] which had a hole that was plugged up, even if it was plugged with one’s hands[2], [or] with wood or another item, it is permitted to open it on Shabbos. However, this is only allowed when [the hole in the barrel] is above the [area of the] sediment [which lies on the bottom of the barrel], However, if it is parallel to the sediment then it is forbidden to open it, (unless it is meant to be constantly opened and closed as is the case with the tap of a barrel).

The reason for this is because:[3] since the [hole] is so low [in the barrel] all the weight of the wine rests on it, and one [thus] needs to plug it up well, [and] therefore when one opens it, it is considered like one is opening a new hole. However, when [the hole] is above the sediment in which case one does not need to plug it well, it is not considered as if one is opening it for the first time.

Unplugging the hole of a wooden barrel:[4] There are opinions[5] which say that [the Sages] only permitted to unplug an old hole by an earthenware barrel being that the plugs [of such material] are not well firmed into the hole, However, by a wooden barrel in which the hole is well firmed with the wood used to plug it and one [also] cuts the protruding part[6] of [the wooden plug] with intent so it not be removed, then [removing or drilling through this plug] certainly appears like [making] a new hole and it is [thus] forbidden.

Other Opinions:[7] [However,] there are opinions that argue on this [and rather permit this to be done even by a wooden barrel].

The Final Ruling:[8] One may rely on the latter opinion in a case of great need, to be lenient regarding a [disputed] Rabbinical prohibition.


Summary-May one unplug a hole of vessel, such as the stuffing of the hole of a barrel?

It is always permitted if the plug is meant to constantly be removed and returned.

If not, then by a barrel of wine and the like, if the hole reaches within the area of the sediment on the bottom of the barrel, it may not be removed.[9] Even when the hole is above the sediment area if the barrel is made of wood then it may not be removed unless in a case of very great need.[10]


[1] Admur 314:6; Michaber 314:2

[2] Meaning that one intentionally did so.

[3] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid

[4] Admur 314:8; Michaber 314:3

[5] Kol Bo

[6] Lit. Its head

[7] Admur 314:8; Elya Raba 314:4; M”B 314:19

[8] Admur 314:8; See M”B ibid in name of P”M and Chayeh Adam

[9] Admur 314:6

[10] Admur 314:8

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