SECTION 275 The Tasks Forbidden to Be Performed on Shabbos by the Glow of the [Shabbos] Lights (1-13)

סימן ערה דְּבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת לְאוֹר הַנֵּר וּבוֹ י"ג סְעִיפִים׃

1 It is forbidden to perform any task requiring meticulous focus by the glow of the Shabbos lights1 when using an oil lamp,2 e.g., removing lice from one’s clothes, checking tzi­tzis,3 or reading a book.4 This applies even when one does not articulate the words.5 [Doing so is forbidden, as] a decree lest one forget and tilt the lamp6 to bring the oil closer to the wick so that it will burn brighter;7 [this would constitute the forbidden labor of] kindling.8

There are authorities who permit [performing such tasks by the light of] a beeswax or tallow candle [where the wax is] wound around the wick, because it is not common to tilt [such a candle] when the wick is made from an acceptable substance (see sec. 264[:11]).9 There are other authorities who forbid [doing so even with these candles], lest one clip the wick, which would constitute the forbidden labor of extinguishing.10 When necessary,11 one may rely on the first opinion.

א אָסוּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ לְאוֹר הַנֵּר בְּשַׁבָּת1 כָּל דָּבָר (א) שֶׁצָּרִיךְ עִיּוּן הַרְבֵּה,א כְּגוֹן לִפְלוֹת בְּגָדָיו,ב אוֹ לִבְדּוֹק צִיצִית,ג,3 אוֹ לִקְרוֹת בַּסֵּפֶרד,4 לְאוֹר הַנֵּר שֶׁל שֶׁמֶן,2 וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם אֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא בְּפִיו מַה שֶּׁהוּא קוֹרֵא,ה,5 גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יִשְׁכַּח וְיַטֶּהו הַנֵּר6 לְקָרֵב הַשֶּׁמֶן אֶל הַפְּתִילָה כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּדְלַק יוֹתֵר יָפֶה,7 וְיִתְחַיֵּב מִשּׁוּם מַבְעִיר.ז,8

אֲבָל בְּנֵר שֶׁל שַׁעֲוָה אוֹ שֶׁל חֵלֶב (ב) הַכָּרוּךְ סְבִיב הַפְּתִילָה, שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ לְהַטּוֹתוֹ כְּשֶׁהַפְּתִילָה הִיא כְּשֵׁרָה (עַיֵּן סִמָּן רס"דח)9 – יֵשׁ מַתִּירִים.ט וְיֵשׁ אוֹסְרִים,י גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יִמְחוֹט רֹאשׁ הַפְּתִילָה,יא וְיֵשׁ בְּזֶה מִשּׁוּם מְכַבֶּה.יב,10 וּלְעֵת הַצֹּרֶךְ11 יֵשׁ לִסְמוֹךְ עַל סְבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה:יג

2 Even if the light is permanently affixed in a cranny in the wall, and thus one cannot tilt it – and even if it is ten stories high so that he cannot reach it at all, and even if it is enclosed in a glass – [making use of it] is forbidden12 under all circumstances. For our Sages did not make any distinctions regarding this matter, and when they forbade performing a task that requires concentration by the glow of a light, they prohibited [doing so] under all circumstances.13

ב אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַנֵּר קָבוּעַ בַּחוֹר שֶׁבַּכֹּתֶליד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַטּוֹתוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא גָּבוֹהַּ עֶשֶׂר קוֹמוֹתטו שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִגַּע אֵלָיו כְּלָל, וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא סָגוּרטז בַּעֲשָׁשִׁיתיז – אָסוּר12 בְּכָל עִנְיָן, שֶׁלֹּא חִלְּקוּ חֲכָמִים בַּדָּבָר,יח שֶׁהַנֵּר שֶׁאָסְרוּ לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ לְאוֹרוֹ תַּשְׁמִישׁ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ עִיּוּן – אֲסָרוּהוּ בְּכָל עִנְיָן:יט,13

3 Nevertheless, this prohibition was only issued with regard to an individual [reading] alone. Two people, by contrast, may read together, because if one will attempt to tilt the lamp, the other person will remind him. [This leniency applies] only when they are reading the same subject matter; then, one pays attention to what the other is doing. If, however, one is reading about one subject and the other is reading about another subject, even if the two are on the same page, each one is engrossed in his subject and he will not pay attention to what the other is doing. Therefore, they are [then both] forbidden to read [by the glow of the light].

Moreover, even if they are reading about the same subject, but one is reading from one book and the other is reading from another book, they are forbidden to read [by the glow of the Shabbos lights], because each one is engrossed in his [particular] book and he will not pay attention to the other’s actions. It therefore is forbidden to recite liturgical hymns in the synagogue when a festival falls on Shabbos,14because each individual reads from his own book. There are authorities who maintain that there is no difference whether people are reading from one book or from many books. As long as they are reading the same subject matter, it is permitted. The prevailing custom follows the first view.

ג וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, לֹא אָסְרוּ אֶלָּא לְאָדָם אֶחָד בִּלְבָד, אֲבָל שְׁנַיִם קוֹרִין בְּיַחַד,כ,12 שֶׁאִם יָבֹא הָאֶחָד לְהַטּוֹת יַזְכִּירֶנּוּ חֲבֵרוֹ.כא וְהוּא שֶׁקּוֹרִין בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד,כב,12 שֶׁאָז מַשְׁגִּיחַ הָאֶחָד בְּמַה שֶּׁחֲבֵרוֹ עוֹשֶׂה,כג אֲבָל אִם זֶה קוֹרֵא בְּעִנְיָן זֶה וְזֶה קוֹרֵא בְּעִנְיָן זֶה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשְּׁנֵי הָעִנְיָנִים הֵם בְּדַף אֶחָדכד – הֲרֵי כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד טָרוּד בְּעִנְיָנוֹכה וְאֵין מַשְׁגִּיחַ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה חֲבֵרוֹ,כו וּלְפִיכָךְ אֲסוּרִים לִקְרוֹת.

וַאֲפִלּוּ כְּשֶׁקּוֹרִין עִנְיָן אֶחָד אֶלָּא שֶׁזֶּה קוֹרֵהוּ בְּסֵפֶר אֶחָד וְזֶה קוֹרֵהוּ בְּסֵפֶר אַחֵר – הֲרֵי כָּל אֶחָד טָרוּד בְּסִפְרוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מַשְׁגִּיחַ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה חֲבֵרוֹ,כז וּלְכָךְ אֲסוּרִים לִקְרוֹת. וְלָכֵן אָסוּר לוֹמַר פִּיּוּטִים בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בְּלֵילֵי יוֹם טוֹב שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת,כח,14 לְפִי שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד קוֹרֵא מִסִּפְרוֹ.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםכט שֶׁאֵין חִלּוּק בֵּין סֵפֶר אֶחָד לִסְפָרִים הַרְבֵּה, כֹּל שֶׁקּוֹרִין בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד – מֻתָּר. וְהַמִּנְהָג כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה:ל

4 When one desires to read [alone], he may do so when he tells another person, who is with him and who is not reading, to watch over him and ensure that he does not tilt [the lamp].15 This law also applies if one makes such a statement to his wife; even though her feelings are identified with his,16 she will not allow him to tilt [the lamp]. Similarly, it is permitted for him to check his clothes for lice17 if she is guarding him so that he does not tilt [the lamp].18 Nevertheless, if she or another person is also checking [the garment] for lice together with him, it is forbidden, for each person is checking in another location and is preoccupied with his own checking and will not pay attention to what the other is doing.

ד הָרוֹצֶה לִקְרוֹת וְאוֹמֵר לְאַחֵר שֶׁעִמּוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ קוֹרֵא "תֵּן דַּעְתְּךָ עָלַי שֶׁלֹּא אַטֶּה הַנֵּר"15 – הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת. וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם אוֹמֵר כֵּן לְאִשְׁתּוֹ,לא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁדַּעְתָּהּ קְרוֹבָה אֶצְלוֹ16 – לֹא תַנִּיחֵהוּ לְהַטּוֹת.לב וְכֵן אִם מַפְלֶה אֶת בְּגָדָיו17 וְהִיא מְשַׁמַּרְתּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַטֶּה18 – הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר.לג

אֲבָל אִם הִיא אוֹ אַחֵר גַּם כֵּן מַפְלֶה עִמּוֹ – אָסוּר,לד שֶׁהֲרֵי כָּל אֶחָד בּוֹדֵק בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר, וְכָל אֶחָד טָרוּד בִּבְדִיקָתוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מַשְׁגִּיחַ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה חֲבֵרוֹ:לה

5 A person of prominence for whom it is clear that his habit is not to tilt a light himself throughout the week, may read [by the light of a lamp] on Shabbos even if he is alone and does not have another person watching him.19

ה אָדָם חָשׁוּבלו שֶׁבָּרוּר לוֹלז שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לְהַטּוֹת הַנֵּר בְּעַצְמוֹ כָּל יְמוֹת הַחֹל – מֻתָּר לוֹ לִקְרוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת, וַאֲפִלּוּ יְחִידִי וְאֵין אַחֵר מְשַׁמְּרוֹ:19

6 License for two people to read about one subject, even from one book, was granted only when they read by the light of a lamp. By contrast, even ten people may not read together by the light of a [large] fire. [The rationale is that] since the smoking stubs of the firebrands20 are close to them, one can easily and quickly use them to stoke the fire before another person will notice what he [is doing]. Of what value then will it be for his friend to remind him after he has already stoked the fire? (For this reason, even those who warm themselves by a fire should not sit next to the ends of the firebrands.)

ו לֹא הִתִּירוּ לִשְׁנַיִם שֶׁיִּקְרְאוּ בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד אֲפִלּוּ בְּסֵפֶר אֶחָד אֶלָּא לְאוֹר הַנֵּר, אֲבָל אֵצֶל הַמְּדוּרָה אֲפִלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה כְּאֶחָד אֵין קוֹרִין,לח,19 שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ שֶׁזַּנְבוֹת הָאוּדִים20 סְמוּכִים לָהֶם – יוּכַל אֶחָד לַחְתּוֹת בָּהֶם בְּקַל וּבִמְהִירוּת כָּל כָּךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּרְגִּישׁ בּוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ,לט וּמַה יּוֹעִיל שֶׁיַּזְכִּירֶנּוּ חֲבֵרוֹ אַחַר שֶׁחָתָה כְּבָר.

(וּמִטַּעַם זֶה אַף כְּשֶׁמִּתְחַמְּמִים אֶצְלָהּ לֹא יֵשְׁבוּ בְּסָמוּךְ לְזַנְבוֹת הָאוּדִיםמ):

7 Schoolchildren may read by the light of a lamp even when their teacher is not present,21 because of their [constant] dread of him.22 Even during the week, they will not [dare] touch anything without being granted license [to do so] by their teacher. Therefore, they will not tilt [a lamp].

ז תִּינוֹק[וֹ]ת שֶׁל בֵּית רַבָּן קוֹרִין לְאוֹר הַנֵּרמא אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְנֵי רַבָּן,מב,21 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵימַת רַבָּן עֲלֵיהֶן,מג,22 וְאֵין פּוֹשְׁטִין יָד לְשׁוּם דָּבָר אַף בְּחֹל אֶלָּא עַל פִּי רַבָּן,מד וּלְפִיכָךְ לֹא יָבֹאוּ לְהַטּוֹת:

8 It is permitted to read the chapter BaMeh Madlikin23by the light of a lamp. Since one makes mention of the Shabbos prohibitions [with regard to kindling] in it, how will he forget and tilt the lamp?!24

ח מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת פֶּרֶק "בַּמֶּה מַדְלִיקִין"23 לְאוֹר הַנֵּר, שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא מַזְכִּיר אִסּוּר שַׁבָּת וְאֵיךְ יִשְׁכַּח וְיַטֶּה:מה,24

9 It is customary to read from machzorim on Yom Kippur25 [by the light of a lamp]. Since the dread of Yom Kippur is upon them, [people] will not tilt [the lamp].

ט נוֹהֲגִים לִקְרוֹת בְּלֵיל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בְּמַחְזוֹרִים,25 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵימַת יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים עֲלֵיהֶם וְלֹא יַטּוּ:מו

10 A teacher may use the light of a lamp to determine the place where the children [studying with him] should read aloud,26 and he may also use the light of a lamp to look in a book so as to prepare the beginnings of the passages that he will recite, reciting the remainder by heart to assist the children.27

[The above leniency applies] not only to [reading] the beginning of the passages. [Instead,] whenever one knows part of a passage by heart, but must look in a book for another part, even in the midst of the [same] passage, it is permitted [for him to do so]. Since he is not looking in the book at all times, there is a distinguishing factor, and he will not forget and tilt [the lamp].

For this reason, when Pesach night falls on Shabbos,28 it is permitted to read the Hagadah from a book by the light of a lamp, since even an unlearned person is [at least somewhat] familiar with a portion of it, and thus only needs to look into the book from time to time.29 (Moreover, even reading the entire text from a book is permitted, since it is not necessary for him [to do so].)30

The same law applies to the table hymns that are recited every Shabbos. A person who is somewhat familiar with their recitation by heart may recite them from a book. How much more so are those who rise early on Shabbos [to recite the Morning Service at daybreak] and go to the synagogue at dawn permitted to pray there by the light of a lamp that has been burning since [Friday afternoon. The rationale is that] they are [surely even] more familiar with the [Shabbos] prayer service and the other [prayers] that they recite than with the [annual] recitation of the Hagadah. However, it is forbidden even during the day to study [by the light of a lamp] if the room is dark and requires a lamp.

י הָרַב יָכוֹל לִרְאוֹת לְאוֹר הַנֵּר מֵהֵיכָן יִקְרְאוּ הַתִּינוֹקוֹת,מז,26 וּלְסַדֵּר רָאשֵׁי הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹתמח בְּפִיומט מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר לְאוֹר הַנֵּר, וְהַשְּׁאָר קוֹרֵא בְּעַל פֶּה לְסַיֵּעַ אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת.27 וְלֹא רָאשֵׁי פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת בִּלְבָד, אֶלָּא כֹּל שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ קְצָת הַפָּרָשָׁה בְּעַל פֶּה וּבִקְצָת צָרִיךְ לִרְאוֹת בַּסֵּפֶר אֲפִלּוּ בְּאֶמְצַע הַפָּרָשָׁה – הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר, שֶׁמֵּאַחַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְעַיֵּן בַּסֵּפֶר תָּמִיד – יֵשׁ לוֹ הֶכֵּר בָּזֶה וְלֹא יָבֹא לִשְׁכּוֹחַ וּלְהַטּוֹת.נ

לְפִיכָךְ, לֵיל פֶּסַח שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת28 – מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת הַהַגָּדָה בַּסֵּפֶר לְאוֹר הַנֵּר, לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עַם הָאָרֶץ שֶׁלֹּא תְהֵא שְׁגוּרָה בְּפִיו קְצָת,נא וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְעַיֵּן בַּסֵּפֶר אֶלָּא לִפְרָקִים.29 (ג)

(וְאַף כְּשֶׁקּוֹרֵא כֻּלָּהּ בַּסֵּפֶר – מֻתָּר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לָזֶה).30

וְהוּא הַדִּין הַזְּמִירוֹת שֶׁאוֹמְרִים בְּכָל שַׁבָּת עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן, מִשֶּׁיַּרְגִּיל בָּהֶן קְצָת בְּעַל פֶּה – יָכוֹל לְאָמְרָן מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר.נב

וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁהַמַּשְׁכִּים בְּשַׁבָּת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת – מִתְפַּלֵּל שָׁם לְאוֹר הַנֵּר הַדּוֹלֵק מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם, שֶׁזֶּהוּ מֻתָּר, שֶׁהַתְּפִלָּה וּשְׁאָר דְּבָרִים שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל לְאָמְרָם הֵם שְׁגוּרִים בְּפִיו יוֹתֵר מֵהַהַגָּדָה.נג

אֲבָל לִלְמוֹד אָסוּרנד אֲפִלּוּ הוּא יוֹם, אִם הַחֶדֶר אָפֵל עֲדַיִן בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְנֵר:נה

11 It is forbidden to use the light of a lamp to check articles that are [very] similar and meticulous scrutiny is required31 to differentiate between them.32 It is even forbidden to differentiate between one’s own clothes and those of his wife if they resemble each other. It is permitted, however, for one to inspect what is in his cup or plate by the light of a lamp, out of concern for cleanliness and because of danger.33 Similarly, one may separate the edible portion of a vegetable from its wastes.34 Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.35

יא כֵּלִים הַדּוֹמִין זֶה לָזֶה וְצָרִיךְ עִיּוּן רַב31 לְהַבְחִין (בֵּין זֶה לָזֶה) בֵּינֵיהֶם32 – אָסוּר לְבָדְקָן לְאוֹר הַנֵּר.נו וַאֲפִלּוּ לְהַבְחִין בֵּין בְּגָדָיו לְבִגְדֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ אָסוּרנז אִם הֵם דּוֹמִים זֶה לְזֶה.נח

אֲבָל מִסְתַּכֵּל הוּא מַה שֶּׁבְּכוֹס וּמַה שֶּׁבִּקְעָרָה לְאוֹר הַנֵּר, שֶׁהִתִּירוּ לוֹ מִפְּנֵי הַנְּקִיּוּת וּמִפְּנֵי הַסַּכָּנָה.33 וְהוּא הַדִּין לִבְרוֹר יָרָק, הָאֹכֶל מִתּוֹךְ הַפְּסֹלֶת,נט,34 וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה:35

12 A butler who is not employed on a regular basis is forbidden to check glasses and plates that are similar by the light of a lamp in order to differentiate between them, because he does not recognize them and he would have to scrutinize them to tell them apart. He thus might well forget and tilt the lamp. By contrast, a butler employed on a regular basis does not have to look carefully to differentiate between them because he recognizes them.36 Accordingly, if he comes to check [the tableware], he is not prevented from doing so. Nevertheless, initially, he should not be instructed to check, even though he is permitted to do so. Since he brings his hands [holding the tableware] close to the lamp to make the distinction, we are concerned that he might take from the oil in the lamp.37

With regard to what does the above apply? With regard to an oil lamp. With regard to a kerosene lamp, by contrast, since it is repulsive, we are not concerned that he will take from the fuel. [Hence,] he may be instructed [to check the utensils]. There are authorities who maintain that even a butler who is not employed on a regular basis is permitted38 to check [utensils] by the light of a kerosene lamp, because it produces much light and there will be no need to tilt it. We may rely on their words and rule leniently [with regard to this restriction, because it is] of Rabbinic origin.

יב שַׁמָּשׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ קָבוּעַס אָסוּר לוֹ לִבְדּוֹק כּוֹסוֹת אוֹ קְעָרוֹת הַדּוֹמִין וּלְהַבְחִין בֵּינֵיהֶם לְאוֹר הַנֵּר,32 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַכִּירָן וְצָרִיךְ הוּא לְעַיֵּן בָּהֶם הַרְבֵּהסא עַד שֶׁיַּבְחִין בֵּינֵיהֶם, וְשֶׁמָּא יִשְׁכַּח וְיַטֶּה.

אֲבָל הַשַּׁמָּשׁ הַקָּבוּעַ, הוֹאִיל וּמַכִּירָן – אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ עִיּוּן הַרְבֵּה לְהַבְחִין בֵּינֵיהֶם,סב,36 לְפִיכָךְ אִם בָּא לִבְדּוֹק – אֵין מוֹנְעִים אוֹתוֹ. אֲבָל אֵין מוֹרִין לוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה לִבְדּוֹקסג,32 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מֻתָּר, דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁמְּקָרֵב יָדָיו לַנֵּר לְהַבְחִין בֵּינֵיהֶםסד – חוֹשְׁשִׁים שֶׁמָּא יִסְתַּפֵּק מֵהַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁבַּנֵּר.סה,37

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּנֵר שֶׁל שֶׁמֶן, אֲבָל נֵר שֶׁל נֵפְטְסו כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא מָאוּס – אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁים שֶׁיִּסְתַּפֵּק מִמֶּנּוּ, וּמוֹרִין לוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםסז שֶׁבְּנֵר שֶׁל נֵפְטְ אֲפִלּוּ שַׁמָּשׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ קָבוּעַ מֻתָּר38 לִבְדּוֹק לְאוֹרוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹרוֹ רַבסח וְלֹא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְהַטּוֹת. וְיֵשׁ לִסְמוֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם לְהָקֵל בְּדִבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

13 It is customary to cover the children so that they will not be naked in front of the [Shabbos] lights, because this is denigrating to the mitzvah.39 ([Indeed,] even during the week, standing naked in front of a lamp [may] lead to danger.)40

יג נָהֲגוּ לְכַסּוֹת הַקְּטַנִּים שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ עֲרֻמִּים בִּפְנֵי הַנֵּרוֹת, מִשּׁוּם בִּזּוּי מִצְוָהסט,39 (וְגַם בְּחֹל יֵשׁ סַכָּנָה לַעֲמוֹד בִּפְנֵי הַנֵּר עָרֹםע):40