Inserting Shoelaces Into Eyelets on Shabbos
Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah
Question: If a shoelace snaps on Shabbos or Yom Tov, may a new shoelace be inserted into the eyelets of the shoe or sneaker?
Discussion: Shulchan Aruch rules that inserting a new shoelace into the eyelets of a shoe on Shabbos or Yom Tov is a violation of mesaken mana, Making a Vessel, which is a derivative of Makeh b’patish.164 Because a tie-shoe that is missing its shoelace is unsafe and uncomfortable to wear, inserting a lace (which will remain there for an extended period of time) “makes” the shoe into a wearable shoe, thus “creating” the shoe. Although a minority opinion suggests that this concern applied only in former times when a professional shoemaker was required to insert the lace, and does not apply in modern times when inserting a shoelace is a routine matter,165 the vast majority of poskim disagree and make no distinction between old-style and modern shoes. It is, therefore, forbidden min ha-Torah to insert a new or a used shoelace into the eyelets of a shoe on Shabbos or Yom Tov.166
Question: What may be done when a shoelace snaps and one needs to wear that shoe on Shabbos or Yom Tov?
Discussion: There are several available options:
- A brand new or previously-used shoelace may be inserted into some — but not all — of the eyelets of the shoe. This is permitted because after Shabbos, the lace will be removed and re-inserted in the proper manner; it will not remain in the shoe for an extended period of time.167
- The torn half of the snapped shoelace may be re-inserted into the eyelets of the shoe.168
- The torn halves of the shoelace could be tied together with a bow and re-inserted into the eyelets.169
- A shoelace of a starkly contrasting color may be inserted into the eyelets of the shoe, e.g., a red or yellow shoelace into a black shoe. This is permitted because such a shoelace will not be left in the shoe for an extended period of time.170
164. O.C. 317:2 and Mishnah Berurah 18.
165. Be’er Moshe 2:20.
166. See Shulchan Shelomo 317:7; Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 15, note 197; Az Nidberu 3:31; B’tzeil ha-Chochmah 4:159.
167. Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 15:60.
168. Since only a whole shoelace, either new or used, may not be inserted into the eyelets of a shoe on Shabbos.
169. Ayal Meshulash, Kosher u’Matir 10:6-2.
170. Ketzos ha-Shulchan 146:3.