I am referring to situations in which it is very likely that there will not be any food unless Shabbos leniencies are exploited. For example, if literally all my food is all in the fridge, but I know I left the light in--can I open it, if it's the only way I will eat Shabbos? Or if someone deliberately misused the blech, and all of the food we have is dependent on profiting from their melacha, may we still eat? Or if my [only] food is wrapped in something that would require extensive work to open, may I open it in order to eat?

The focus of my question is not on whether or how such a thing could possibly occur, but on where having no food at all on Shabbos would fall on the scale of illness and other extenuating circumstances that could lead to a loosening of (particularly rabbinical) strictures.

I imagine a situation in which there is no immediate threat to life or health, and in which--for the sake of interest--there is also no risk of not completing the positive mitzvot. In other words, one has enough wine for 1 kiddush, and enough for 1 kezayis (kebeitza?) of bread x 3 meals per person. But literally nothing else.

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    Is there any threat to life or health? It sounds like you are asking about a case where there is threat to neither. If so, please edit to clarify as that could drastically change the answers to your question. Additionally you should clarify if the minimal performance of specific obligations (Kiddush, 3-meals, Lechem-Misheh) is at stake.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 19:08
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    @DanF ?!? It is most definitely prohibited to fast on Shabbat in ordinary circumstances.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 19:51
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    Also consider that you can become an "emergency" guest with one of the families in your shul. Also bring up amirah l'akum when turning off the light in the refrigerator is involved or about propping the door open so that the light never goes off. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 20:31
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    Rav David Miller (Rosh Yeshiva in YU in Israel) once told me that Rav Soloveitchik once allowed someone who is unable to take the stairs because they are too old, to ask a non-jew to press the button on the elevator to allow the old man to take a walk on shabbat, because the walk was important for this mans Oneg shabbos. With a quick google I found an article that mentions something close to this from Rav Soloveichik. vosizneias.com/40334/2009/10/25/… Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 2:00
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    @SAH No, I am not suggesting that one can open the door once. I am suggesting that if amirah l'akum is allowed, or if the door is already open then it can be propped open. For example, if one does not know that the light is on, but opens it and sees the light, then it can be propped open so that it does not close and turn off the light. Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 2:31

2 Answers 2


Very good question. For a little child RMA OC 328, 17 told about melachot for little children meal preparation and allows only shevut of amira lenochri. Even no active derabanan chillul, even by the person who is chole sheen bo Saccana when there is no sakkanat evar. Roughly the Rosh is the stringent opinion and for the Rambam, Machloket Tur and Bet Yosef if he is really lenient.

See this stuff of SA (op. cit.)

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאִם אֵין בּוֹ סַכָּנַת אֵבֶר עוֹשִׂין בְּשִׁנּוּי: {היינו שעושין בשינוי וכו' ודוק בפוסקים ותמצא שהוא מגדולי הפוסקים ודברי הב"ח צ"ע: מגן אברהם} ‏

Shulchan Aruch (and Magen Avraham end of sk 12) ( thanks to @Double AA) allows Shvut deshvut by Israel itself when there is a bit of illness: To make a isur deorayita with shinuy:

The leniency is valuable only if there is a bit of ilness, not only disagrement.

וכמ"ש סימן ש"ז ס"ה שבות דשבות שרי במקצת חולי ומיחוש בעלמא אפילו ע"י עכו"ם אסור וכמ"ש ס"א ועמ"ש סי' תצ"ו:‏

Magid Mishne Shabbat 6, 9 in name of Raavad which is the source of this text.

Thus, To make a mel'acha derabanan with shinuy, for a bit of illness is allowed by SA. But e. g. to open the door of the fridge with the foot, (turn on the light is a problem keein deorayta even If he doesn't need it (מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופה) ) seems not possible.

Or if my [only] food is wrapped in something that would require extensive work to open, may I open it in order to eat?

It is always the possibility to destroy entirely the package.

  • What about a Shevut deShevut Beyadayim?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 1:23
  • @Double AA right I'm fixing it
    – kouty
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 1:49
  • @DoubleAA see here I'm still not clear enough. BEH tomorrow I'll relearn if possible
    – kouty
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 2:25

Not all sages say that the Shabbat is a feast.

Rabbi Yosé ben Zimra went so far as to declare that Jews who fasted on Shabbat were assured of the cancellation of any negative decrees that had been issued against them by the heavenly court.(Brachot 31b)

Some of the sages say that the reason we gather extra manna before shabbat is because we should eat Enough before shabbat and that the day of shabbat is more spiritual.

(This is a view from some sages,dont downvote it because I give light to a view in the Talmud)


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    The statement from R Yose ben Zimra comes from Brachot 31b but the article you quote "forgot" to quote the next sentence ... "Nevertheless they return and exact punishment from him for the offense of neglecting to delight in the Shabbat". This makes your argument exactly the reverse of what you wanted it to be...
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 19:42
  • @mbloch But the gathering of the manna we find in the Torah,can we find the delight in Shabbat in the Torah or is it only in the Talmud?
    – Aigle
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 20:08
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    The source of oneg shabbat (delight of Shabbat) comes from Isaiah 58:13 vkarata lashabbat oneg (and you will call the Shabbat a delight)
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 20:11
  • @Eagel The gathering of the manna is in the Torah, but your interpretation of it (that it's to eat extra in preparation) is not.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 1:58
  • @Double AA well I cant say Rabbi Yose ben Zimra,so I take that back.(I dont have a interpretation) Read: people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/021031_SabbathFast.html
    – Aigle
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 2:15

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