At the shul we have simple tables with metal frames (a rectangle with 4 legs) and wooden tops, screwed to them with 4 screws per table. Eventually, all 4 screws of one table loosened up and the tabletop fell when someone was taking a seat by it on Shabbos.

Can it be placed back on the frame without fastening on Shabbat?

Is it the same Din for similar constructions as a Shtender (wooden top in metal frame) or a bench or a Yeshivisher bed?

  • Can you share what happened in your shul?
    – mbloch
    Oct 17, 2019 at 16:53
  • I sat down, leaned back and the top felt. the 4 legged metallic frame stayed. the top is cleat and straight, can it be simply put on top of the frame?
    – Al Berko
    Oct 17, 2019 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


This is actually forbidden.

As background, building new items is forbidden because of the melacha of boneh. Rebuilding is somewhat easier but not that much. As R Daniel Braude (Learn Shabbos, pp. 292ff) explains

  • fastening tightly (e.g., with screws, nail or glue) is forbidden min haTorah
  • fastening loosely (e.g., attaching parts of an item in a way that they are not fixed or attached well and therefore easy to undo) is forbidden de rabbanan because of the fear one may transgress the first issur
  • connecting or loosely attaching things that are always loose is permitted

For example

  • screwing in the horizontal bar of a bench (that had been used and disconnected before Shabbat) into its legs constitutes the Torah prohibition. Loosely screwing it into its legs constitutes a Rabbinic prohibition. Placing the horizontal bar onto its legs without screwing anything is permitted
  • screwing in an extra leaf in a table [which can be extended in the middle] constitutes the Torah prohibition. Adding it to a table without screwing it in but in a way that it remain somewhat inserted into the grooves constitutes a Rabbinic prohibition. However, fitting the slate into a table in a way that it is never solidly inserted is permitted

Your case seems to be the first two ones one, i.e., either one needs to screw in the top which is forbidden, or to put the top on the feet loosely which is forbidden because of the gezeira shema yetaken (OC 313:6 and MB 313:41), i.e., that one comes to screw in the screws.

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

PS. A table is somewhat more complicated than a bench because it might be building an ohel (a tent) but that is only if you plan to use the space below the top.

  • Wait, the quote says "Placing the horizontal bar onto its legs without screwing anything is permitted"?
    – Al Berko
    Oct 17, 2019 at 16:40
  • Yes and I believe the difference is that the bench is always loose (3rd bullet point from first para) so putting it back loosely is permitted. A table is also more complicated because you put your legs below which is like an ohel
    – mbloch
    Oct 17, 2019 at 16:52
  • I feel that you're mixing Ohel and Loose. Besides Ohel I don't see a difference between a bench or a table or a bed. Let's decide on this first.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 17, 2019 at 17:10

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