If there are ants (or other creepy-crawlies) in a sink on Shabbat, what is permitted to do with them when using the sink? Here are some things i can think of:

  1. Intentionally avoid pouring water on them
  2. Don't think about it at all
  3. Pour water in their general area, but not specifically on any ant
  4. Pour water directly on them to get rid of them

1 is obviously good, but what about 2 and 3?

  • are you certain that you will be killing the ants?
    – avi
    Jun 8, 2014 at 9:02
  • @avi I suppose it isn't certain. Occasionally i've seen an ant continue moving after having water poured on it (weekdays). But usually, i douse them enough to ensure their death.
    – Scimonster
    Jun 8, 2014 at 9:40

3 Answers 3


The Minchas Yitzchak 10:27 and Shevet Halevi 6:94(he brings the Minchas yitzchak as well) bring a similar case about flushing a fly down the toilet that was there already .If one wants to use the toilet then its mutar since we say its a misasek(with other reasons). However to have kavana to kill it and get rid of them is problematic. See the tshuvas inside for all info.


שמירת שבת כהלכתה, יב:כ

נמלים וחרקים אחרים הנמצאים על רצפת המטבח או בכיור ובכלים, יש להיזהר מלשוטפם באופן שיבוא לקטילתם.

[Regarding] ants and other insects that are found on the kitchen floor, or in a sink or dishes, one should be careful not to pour [liquid] on them in a manner that will lead to killing them. (Translation mine.)

This seems to conflict with @sam's answer that it would be permitted.

  • This is a very general statement,the tshuvos I brought are more descriptive
    – sam
    Jun 8, 2014 at 1:47
  • @sam Yours might be more descriptive, but this actually deals with my case, not just a comparable one.
    – Scimonster
    Jun 8, 2014 at 6:57

Killing the ants would be permitted under these circumstances. If the ants are a nuisance, in halacha nuisance is a form of tzar (discomfort). And You have to kill them indirectly as well. By pouring water Around the area thereby making the water eventually reach them. This is known as grama. And since you aren't going to use the ants for a productive purpose, like when you kill an animal for its meat or fur, it's a מלאכה שאין צריכה לגופה. So you have grama, and מלאכה שאין צריכה לגופה, which is a shvus dshvus, and it's tzar, so we are meikel and allow you to kill the ants in this manner in this circumstance

  • 3
    Do you have a source that we can combine these principles to be lenient?
    – Ypnypn
    May 30, 2014 at 21:13
  • I think this only works for tsaar gadol like for bees to prevent stings. Not tsaar katan like ants (which might not really be considered tsaar at all. Nuisance != tsaar)
    – Daniel
    Jun 8, 2014 at 5:53
  • Show me a source Jun 8, 2014 at 8:23
  • 1
    Oh the irony. How about you give a source first? ;)
    – Scimonster
    Jun 8, 2014 at 8:40

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