Shabbat Parashat Naso| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Milking Cows on Shabbat - Part III - Excerpts from Amud Hay’mini, pp. 258-270
[We have seen that one does not do a melacha (Torah prohibition) when he connects a machine that starts off by milking into a container where the milk is immediately spoiled, regardless of his plans after that point. However, we saw a machloket if one can adjust the valves later so that subsequent milk is kept. We continue with the question of using a time delay.]
The next question is whether one solves problems by attaching the apparatus in a way that the milking does not begin until a timer activates the main suction, after the person has removed his hand. This seems to depend on the explanations regarding one who tied someone down in a place that later became very hot and killed him. Tosafot (Sanhedrin 77a) originally assumes that according to the opinions that one who sets a fire is like someone who damages directly, in this case the person would be guilty of murder. The fact that another force, in our case, the timer-operated machine, is involved makes no difference. This should ostensibly also apply to melacha on Shabbat.
However, we need to carefully analyze the Tosafot’s second answer. [We must skip over the analysis and come to Rav Yisraeli’s conclusion on Tosafot’s approach.] Tosafot distinguishes between bringing the thing that damages over to the object which is damaged, which is an extension of the concept of fire, and bringing the thing that is damaged over, which is just indirect damage. In our case, the milking apparatus cannot function at the time the person attaches it, before the timer activates it. Therefore, it cannot be compared to fire, and the person who attaches it does not violate a melacha. Thus, our question depends on which of Tosafot’s two answers is correct. We noted elsewhere that the Rambam and Rashba assume that the concept of fire being like a person’s action does not apply to the laws of Shabbat. Therefore, important Rishonim would say that delayed milking that is activated by a timer is not a melacha.
Upon further investigation, there is an apparent proof for the lenient position from the following gemara. The gemara (Shabbat 120b) brings a machloket if one who brings over a barrel of water to be cracked by fire and douse it violates a rabbinic prohibition. All agree that there is no melacha (Torah prohibition) because of a g’rama (an indirect cause of the melacha). Why is this not similar to the case of one who ties up someone where the sun will come? There are two possible answers. One is that in regard to responsibility on semi-direct cause of an outcome, Shabbat is more lenient than damages. Another possibility is to distinguish between bringing the fire and bringing the object that it will affect. In our case, both reasons for leniency exist. We are talking about a question of Shabbat and with a situation where we do not bring over an object that is in a state that it can do a melacha (the equivalent to fire). Even if we do not know which leniency to accept, one of them must be correct, and so we have eliminated the possibility of a Torah prohibition.
To make a system that is even safer halachically we should combine the different leniencies we have discussed [over the last few weeks]. The apparatus should be hooked up while the timer is off, and in such a way that, should milk come out, it would go to waste. After hooking it up and before the timer goes on, the valve should be adjusted so that when the milk comes out, it will not be ruined. Switching the valve will not directly, immediately cause a melacha to happen. Even though there is a rabbinic prohibition to do a g’rama of a melacha, the Shulchan Aruch rules that it is permitted in a case of a significant loss of money (Orach Chayim 334:22). This case, which also has the element of pain for the animal if we do not milk it, certainly qualifies as a case where this specific rabbinic prohibition is overcome.
Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend
This edition of