Puzzles on Shabbos

 Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah

By Rabbi Meir Maryles

Question: May one put a jigsaw puzzle together on Shabbos?

Discussion: The melachah of koseiv applies not only to writing letters and words, but also to drawing pictures.209 Since putting a jigsaw puzzle together creates a picture, it is forbidden on Shabbos.210

Question: Does the same apply for a children’s puzzle?

Discussion: We cannot present a uniform ruling for the broad variety of children’s puzzles, especially since new types are constantly being developed. However, many children’s puzzles are made of large pieces that do not interlock. Rather, each is placed in its own space on a board that has an incomplete picture on it, and the pieces complete the picture. Since the pieces do not interlock and are also made to be put together and taken apart regularly, putting them together is not considered koseiv and is permitted.211

209. Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 11:17); see, also, Shulchan Aruch 340:5 and Bei’ur Halachah there.

210. Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah (16:24), Shalmei Yehudah (chapter 5, footnote 3, citing R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv). Note that if one makes a jigsaw puzzle intending to keep it assembled permanently (e.g., one intends to hang the finished puzzle), there is an additional issue of makkeh b’patish.

211. Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah (ibid.). Mishnah Berurah (340:17) rules that on may open a book that has letters written on the edges of pages when no other book is available. Therefore, since there is no other option of using this toy, it should be permitted. Moreover, Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim I, chapter 135) states that if parts of a letter are placed next to each other without being connected at all, there is no issue.