There have been manually controlled "criticality accidents" before, and I could see someone setting off a bomb by rope at a distance.

Would there be any prohibition involved doing so on Shabbos, as no electricity or fire is required?

  • 5
    It creates fire. Unless there is nothing flammable in a ten mile radius?
    – Double AA
    Sep 6, 2015 at 3:41
  • Isn't using weapons a chillul Shabbat regardless? Sep 6, 2015 at 4:46
  • @DoubleAA What about a desert? Sep 6, 2015 at 8:42
  • 8
    For practical questions like this, you should ask your local Rabbi.
    – user613
    Sep 7, 2015 at 13:37
  • 1
    Hashamos kol?....
    – sam
    Oct 9, 2015 at 19:22

4 Answers 4


One obvious issue is that there is bound to be some kind of life form in the vicinity that will die as a result, and this would be a clear "p'sik reisha" almost in its literal sense, with regards the melacha of "Shechita" (slaughtering).

On a day other than Shabbat it may well be "unnecessary" killing which is forbidden too (i.e. not being allowed to waste).

There are other likely "psik reisha" melachas formed, e.g. it will make a hole in the ground which is the melacha of ploughing.

  • 1
    It could be done in space.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:39

(Disclaimer: I am not a posek. Please consult your Rabbi before firing any nuclear weapons.)

A single nuclear explosion could induce many Shabbat violations:

  • Slaughtering (שוחט) animals that are unfortunate enough to be in the blast area. Bodily damage may also involve shearing shearing (גוזז צמר) or skinning (מפשט).
  • Igniting a fire (מבעיר) or boiling water (בישול) with the heat of the blast.
  • Demolishing (סותר) structures.
  • Tearing (קורע)
  • Plowing (חורש), by making a hole in the ground
  • Reaping (קוצר), by uprooting trees or tearing off their branches
  • 2
    I think that none of these would apply if the bomb is detonated in space.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:40

the energy of the nuclear bomb is actually not from nuclear forces but rather from the electrical forces of repulsion as Dr.Richard Feynman said

The energy which is liberated is the energy of the atomic bomb. This energy is usually called "nuclear" energy, but it is really "electrical" energy released when electrical forces have overcome the attractive nuclear forces.

this is essentially how a light bulb works for example. an electric potential causes charges to move and strike atoms releasing heat. the atomic bomb likewise causes charges to move due to the repulsion of positive and negative charges, releasing heat as explained by Dr.Feynman (see there for details)

  • 1
    I fail to see how this answers the question.
    – msh210
    Oct 7, 2015 at 23:10
  • @msh210 nuclear bomb energy is from moving charges which is electrical power
    – ray
    Oct 8, 2015 at 4:52
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. Oct 8, 2015 at 8:30
  • @DannySchoemann it answers it. question based on false assumption that nuclear bomb not related to electricity
    – ray
    Oct 8, 2015 at 11:46
  • 1
    This answer would be more valuable if you would edit in some information relating the release of "'electrical' energy" described by Dr. Feynman to the use of electricity in devices, lightbulbs, circuits, etc., which are prohibited by the consensus of contemporary and recent posekim based on various rationales.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:36

I am far from a Rabbi so anything in this answer is just my thoughts

With that being said, I would imagine setting off a nuclear bomb (or any sort of bomb or weapon) at any time would be against Halacha. The only time where it would be ok would be to save someone's life (how this scenario plays out without harming other innocent people is hard to imagine, but technically possible) in which case it would overrule Chillul Shabbos and would be allowed anyway.

  • 2
    Maybe we're talking about an experiment, that would cost a fortune to delay. If there's no Chilul Shabbes, then why delay? No lives involved. (IOW, you've changed the question.) Sep 6, 2015 at 9:23
  • @DannySchoemann That is an interesting situation I did not consider. However in such a case it would be Chilul Shabbos for multiple reasons. A) Any explosion would be the equivilant of creating a fire (which is one of the reasons you can't drive a car). B) You would be building as you would need to create a connection so that the detonator catalyzes the reaction (similar to a light switch turning on a light). Regardless the cost of delaying any such experiment would never change the halacha.
    – yitzih
    Sep 6, 2015 at 13:09
  • @yitzih you don't need a detonator. Sep 6, 2015 at 16:33
  • @ShmuelBrin As far as I know, you do need something to smash the critical mass of fissionable material together with sufficient force to trigger the explosion. I have seen a discussion in which half the mass is at the bottom of a pipe surrounded by concrete. Several stories up, is the other hlf with weights on top. It is held up by a horizontal pipe. Pull the pipe out and the article claimed that gravity would smsh the two halves together with enough force to trigger the explosion. I do not know if it would work or not. Otherwise you would need a detonator. Sep 6, 2015 at 17:14
  • @sabbahillel en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_core Sep 6, 2015 at 17:17

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