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Regardless of snows muktza status on shabbos, is there an issue in shoveling snow from a paved walk?

At worst:

If snow is muktza, you are doing tiltul min hatzad letzurach davr mutar since you need the walk (Indirect movement by using an object besides your hand for a permissible goal is permitted)

Any melting would be a Rabbinic issue (creating liquid or a safeguard against squeazing grape/olive juices) with the added detractors of being unintentional (aino miskavein) and the liquid will be disposed of without use (holech l'Ibbud), seemingly making this issue moot.

The snow shovel would be a keli shemelachto l'heter *(an instrument which is mostly used for a permitted purpose may be moved for any productive purpose)*if there's no problem with the shoveling itself. At any rate, any shovel (even melachto l'Issur) would be usable to do the snow shoveling.

If anyone wants to answer "Uvda d'Chol", please explain this concept in depth, because to this day, I don't understand how this comes into play unless we're talking about mass vs individual production.

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I just want to applaud you for a gutsy question! –  Seth J Dec 26 '10 at 0:55
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well said.

I heard Rabbi Herschel Welcher address exactly this question.

There's a disagreement in the Achronim whether pushing muktza indirectly is subject to the "indirect" loophole if that's the normal way it's done, e.g. snow with a shovel; Rabbi Welcher concluded as you did, that yes even so, as you're not actually touching the snow, the "indirect touching" (tiltul min hatzad) leniency applied.

He was concerned for meta-halachic issues of "hard labor" on Shabbos and the like, as you alluded to; and thus only allowed it if salt alone didn't do it, and if it was strongly needed (such as a danger of people slipping).

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I would think that salting is worse since you are converting the snow to water directly (b'yadayim) which is a clear issue. –  YDK Dec 26 '10 at 3:03
    
@YDK - Is it really considered the most directly, or maybe just a little bit? I would think that it would be more of a direct conversion to pour hot water on the snow or use a blow dryer on it perhaps. –  Adam Mosheh Jun 27 '12 at 23:41
    
@AdamMosheh, please read the above answer and my comment on it more carefully. –  YDK Jun 28 '12 at 19:01
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http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/12/shoveling-snow-on-shabbos.html

http://nefeshchaim.blogspot.com/2007/03/shoveling-snow-on-shabbos.html

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Your links were very informative. I guess it all comes down to how we deal with a tircha with something that could not be done before shabbos and has good purpose on shabbos. Although I don't agree with the nefeshchaim's distinction between shoveling muktza and non-muktza as I mentioned in my question. His distinction would apply if you were scooping with your hand. –  YDK Dec 26 '10 at 3:43
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There is a Rav in Lakewood that personally shoveled the snow from the steps of his Shul on a Shabbos morning (In an area that there was an Eiruv - so there was no Issur of moving it from one Reshus to another). However there were many people that felt it was an Uvda D'Chol. Since that time he has not done it as they hired a non Jew to shovel when it snows on Shabbos. However he has said he would continue doing it if there is no non Jew that would.

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I wonder if he would have made a distinction between a private walk and the Shul walk, where perhaps he felt there was a danger to the public? –  YDK Dec 26 '10 at 3:05
    
I have no idea if he did the same for his private house. –  Gershon Gold Dec 26 '10 at 3:07
    
It seems to me that you are dealing with a case of real danger on steps. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Dec 26 '10 at 7:25
    
We don't paken halacha off stories (R' Musafi). –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 31 '12 at 5:27
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