Questions About Shabbos - Part 3

Q. As God ceased His business work of creation that He had done and blessed the seventh day, is Hashem referencing that performing one’s work occupation or business on the seventh day is one of His forbidden Shabbat activities? Could this mean that no manner of work can be done on the Shabbat day except for relaxation and pleasure? Might one sew, knit, or spin if these items do not apply to that person’s occupation or business?

A. Thanks for your message. The 39 Shabbos labors are not defined by one's occupation. (Was the man who gathered sticks in Numbers 15 a professional stick gatherer?) Rather, the labors themselves are prohibited regardless of their connection to one's profession (or lack thereof). If they were based on one's occupation, a given activity would be permitted for person A and a capital crime for person B! Not only that, retirees and the unemployed could then desecrate the Sabbath with impunity! Suffice it to say that such an approach is without precedent.


Q. Is it permissible to wear a fursuit (a costume designed to make yourself look like an anthropomorphic animal) and, if so, are there any rules about it with regard to the Sabbath?

A. Thanks for your question. I don't think there's anything inherently problematic with a fursuit, such as if one wanted to wear it around the house or to comic con. On Shabbos, however, we're supposed to honor the day in many ways, which includes wearing our best clothes. It's not a time for cosplay. I wouldn't say it's a violation of Shabbos but it fails to honor Shabbos, just like jeans and a T-shirt would fail to honor Shabbos.


Q. Is there an issue of only using wine for kiddush only on Friday night/yom tov night or is there also an issue for Shabbat day/yom tov day? Are the daytime kiddushes d’rabbanan and therefore whiskey/liquor would be ok, too?

A. If one has no wine on Friday night, he may make kiddush on the challahs. One may not use a chamar medina like whiskey on Friday night. On Shabbos day, the Ashkenazic practice allows using a chamar medina simply because one prefers it; the Sefardic practice only permits it if wine is unavailable.


Q. I was learning the halachot of Shabbat and I was looking at the domain called makom p’tur. I believe the sand in a beach qualifies as a makom p’tur because when you walk, you go in between every sand particle. Are beaches considered a makom p’tur?

A. Thanks for your question. A makom patur is a space smaller than four tefachim by four tefachim (about 1’x1’) that is more than three tefachim above the ground (about 9”), with no upper height limit. A good example of a makom patur is a fire hydrant. A beach would not be a makom patur because (a) it's a lot bigger than one foot square and (b) it's not nine inches above the ground, it is the ground.

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