Questions About Shabbos - Part 2

Q. My [denomination redacted] synagogue is doing a virtual minyan on Shabbos. I know this is a violation of Shabbos but they can’t run the minyan without me. What should I do?

A. Thanks for your question. You're obviously already aware that it's simply not permitted on Shabbos; that right there is enough to be the end of the story. However, let me also add that according to halacha, people have to be in the same place to count towards a minyan. (If there's a live minyan, others might join it virtually but those people don't count towards making the minyan.) So, from the point of view of halacha, you'd be violating Shabbos for no reason whatsoever because it's still not a minyan!

Clearly your [denomination redacted] synagogue feels differently about what's permitted on Shabbos and who can form a minyan, so let me add another point: if they feel it's permissible to join a minyan remotely on Shabbos, they don't need you. Literally anyone else on the face of the planet should be able to join in. None of them has a friend or relative who could be their tenth?


Q. I noticed that in Nehemiah 13 people were desecrating the Sabbath by carrying a burden. This prompted me to consider if in the days of Nehemiah the laws of eruvin were yet instituted. Obviously, the transgressions in Nehemiah 13 weren’t allowable even with an eruv but this pasuk had caused me to question if the completion of the wall created a halachic eruv.

A. The laws of eiruv were set by the time of Kings David and Shlomo and, yes, the wall around Jerusalem was an effective eiruv. The issue in Nechemiah 13 was that merchants were bringing their wares into Jerusalem on Shabbos and conducting business (neither of which would be permitted by an eiruv). Nechemiah dealt with this by having the city gates closed on Shabbos. When the merchants took to camping out outside the gates in the expectation that eventually someone would let them in, Nechemiah drove them away.


Q. We just purchased a 10-foot diameter trampoline for the backyard. We wanted to know the halachic issues surrounding using it on Shabbos/Yom Tov. For example, when jumping on it, would that be a problem of possibly uprooting the grass, or when its wet outside, etc. Thank you

A. One may use a trampoline on Shabbos for fun but not for exercise.

One may walk on grass on Shabbos even though some grass may be uprooted because it is neither one's intention nor is it inevitable.

I haven't seen anything specifically about a trampoline on grass but I can't see why it would be any different than walking on grass. If you discover that using the trampoline does indeed inevitably uproot grass (though I can't see why that would be the case), then proceed accordingly.


Q. Why do we not play musical instruments on Shabbat?

A. The Torah tells us not to perform acts of labor on Shabbos. There are 39 categories of labor and everything we avoid doing on Shabbos falls into one of those categories. We avoid playing instruments because they regularly require repairing – broken strings, reeds, drumheads, etc. Such repairs are one of the prohibited labors. Rather than permitting instruments and risking people violating the Sabbath, the Sages enacted that we should avoid instruments altogether.

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