Watering plants and grass on Shabbos-Part 1-washing hands and eating outside

Watering plants and grass on Shabbos-PART 1:[1]

One who waters seeds[2] on Shabbos [in order so they grow[3]] is liable for [both] the plowing and planting prohibition.[4] Therefore, it is Biblically forbidden to pour liquid over grass, plants, [trees[5]] and the like on Shabbos.

Washing hands in a garden over grass, plants?[6] Due to the above prohibition, when eating outside in the garden [or any other area which contains grass or plants] it is forbidden to wash one’s hands [over the plants, grass and the like], as by doing so one is watering them. This prohibition applies even if one has no intent to water the grass by doing so.[7] This prohibition applies by all gardens [and plants, grass and trees] whether personally owned, or owned by one’s friend, or even owned by a gentile [or is public property[8]] and one has no interest for the plants to grow. Nonetheless, in the case that one does not own the garden, it is only Rabbinically forbidden.[9]

Eating outside on the lawn:[10] [For the above-mentioned reasons, when eating outside over a lawn or in a garden which contains grass, plants or trees, one must beware not to spill or pour water over it.] Hence, it is best not to eat at all over a lawn on Shabbos if one will be drinking or using water while there, as it is very difficult to avoid the spillage of even a small amount of water.[11] [Likewise, one should not drink any water over  grass due to this reason.[12] One who is careful in this will merit to have the mitzvah of Shabbos protect him.[13]]


[1] See Admur 336:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 336:8-11

[2] Lit. Zeraim. Rashi Moed Katan 2b interprets this to mean pouring water over the roots of the plant.

[3] So is the Nussach in our Shulchan Aruch of Admur “Vehu Sheyiskavein Lehatzmiach Hazeraim Kemo Zoreia.” However, see Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 17 who changes this Nussach to read something totally different, as in truth even if one has no such intent, one is liable due to Pesik Reishei; See Koveitz Kinnus Torah 12:62

[4] Admur 336:9; 252:14; M”A 336:5; Hagahos Maimanis 8 Beis; Abayey Moed Katan 2b

The reason: As the water makes the soil soft for planting, as is done by plowing, as well as the water helps the seed to grow, which is like planting. [Admur ibid, following Nussach of Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 17; Raba and Rav Yosef ibid; See Tosafus Shabbos ibid]

[5] Mateh Yehuda 336:2; Kaf Hachaim 336:27; Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 18

The reason: Although a tree does not require one to water since in any event it is already standing and growing, nonetheless, it is biblically forbidden to do so as watering it helps to grow further and helps to develop its fruit. [Poskim ibid]

[6] Admur ibid; Michaber 336:3; Tur 336; Sefer Hateruma 235; Semag L.S. 65; Semak 281; Hagahos Maimanis in name of the Geonim

[7] The reason: As nevertheless this matter is an inevitable occurrence. [Admur ibid and 337:1; Michaber ibid]

[8] A Public garden: A public garden has the same status as personal property as all the garden visitors receive benefit from its growth. Hence, according to all it would be forbidden to spill water in such a garden. [Az Nidbaru 6:37]

[9] Admur ibid; M”A 336:6; Sefer Hateruma 244, brought in Hagahos Maimanis ibid; See M”A 336:6 in name of Sefer Hazichronos Zichron 9; Mateh Yehuda 336:2 that so is also the opinion of the Michaber; M”B 336:27; Kaf Hachaim 336:26

The reason: Even in the case that one has no interest in the growth of the plants, such as by a friends garden or a Gentile garden, and it is hence considered a Melacha Sheiyno Tzericha Legufa, it is nonetheless rabbinically forbidden. [Admur ibid and 278:4; Tosafus 103a; See Chidushei Tzemach Tzedek 49] According to this opinion, we prohibit even a Pesik Reishei Delo Nicha Lei [which is not desired by the person] even by a Rabbinical prohibition.

Other Opinions-lenient: According to the opinion who holds that a Pesik Reishei Delo Nicha Lei [which is not desired by the person] is permitted by a Rabbinical prohibition [Aruch], then it would be permitted to spill water in a garden which is not one’s property and does not belong to a friend, and hence one has no interest in the benefits gained by watering the garden. [Beis Yosef 336; M”B 336:27; Kaf Hachaim 336:26]

Other opinions regarding a friends garden-stringent: Some Poskim that it is only a rabbinical prohibition by the garden a Gentile, while the garden of another Jew is considered a biblical prohibition. [Sefer Hazichronos p. 51, brought in Kneses Hagedola 336, and brought and negated in M”A 336:6, omitted from Admur ibid] Some Poskim arbitrate that even by friends garden, if one desires that his friends garden grow, it is a biblical prohibition. [Elya Raba 336:6; Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[10] Admur ibid; Rama 226:3; Sefer Hateruma ibid

[11] Other reasons: Alternatively, the reason that one should avoid eating in a garden is because of the carrying prohibition, as certain size gardens do not have the validity of an Eiruv. [Taz 36:7; Kaf Hachaim 336:33] Alternatively, the reason is because one may come to throw a seed onto the ground and transgress the planting prohibition. [Kalkeles Shabbos; Kaf Hachaim 336:34] These reasons are negated by the reason of Admur who make specific mention of water in his reasoning.

[12] Levush 336:3; Tiferes Yisrael Kalkeles Hashabbos

[13] Aruch Hashulchan 336:22

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.