I understand there is a notion called shevut d'shevut (and the related gezeira l'gezeira), whereby, in some cases, one may violate a rabbinic prohibition if and only if this is achieved through violating another rabbinic prohibition.

I don't really understand this concept. Why would it render something permissible? What are some (hopefully clearly illustrative) examples of the concept in action?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/18863/…
    – SAH
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 16:40
  • "Why would it render something permissible?" Because the rabbis who forbade certain actions permitted them under certain circumstances. This is my assumption / educated guess, which is why it's not an answer. Please flag this for deletion if and when an answer confirming or contradicting it is posted.
    – msh210
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 21:28
  • not really related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/45423/…
    – Menachem
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 21:37
  • this might help: ou.org/torah/gemara/daf-yomi/daf-in-halacha/…
    – Menachem
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 21:37
  • @msh210 Thanks. I guess I'm wondering why the concept of shvut d'shevut (sp??) would apply as a general heuristic within rabbinical law. I understand rabbis are able to limit the extent of their own strictures and often do on case-by-case bases, but don't understand why this blanket permission would apply
    – SAH
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


Shvut de'shevut (a restriction on a restriction) is a situation that arises when considering an action. It is not a directive. It doesn't mean you can violate one D'Rabbanan if it violates another D'Rabbanan too.

It means that a certain act can be permitted (under certain or all circumstances) if it is two steps removed from a D'Oraisa violation, and not just one step away.


Asking a gentile to carry a sefer Torah on Shabbos through a private backyard without an eiruv, into a nearby shul.

Asking a gentile to carry is a D'Rabbanan. The backyard is not a "reshus harabim" so it is a D'Rabbanan violation to carry there on Shabbos. The situation we created here is two steps removed from the D'Oraisa of a Jew carrying in a reshus harabim. (It's a gentile carrying in a reshus hayachid for the sake of Jews)

Asking (hinting) to a gentile to turn the light bulb off so the baby can sleep. Asking him is a shevut. Turning off the light bulb is a shevut (no charcoal was created).

Generally, a shevut d'shevut is permitted for a mitzvah purpose or other important concern under important circumstances.

A gezeirah l'gezeirah (decree on top of a decree) is usually something we do not make.

If a gentile turns on the light in a room on Shabbos for his own reading benefit, we may ask him to leave the light on. We do not decree that we may not use the light. Such a decree would be because we fear that were we to get used to asking him to leave the light on, we would eventually ask him to turn it on for us.

But, we do not make such a decree, because even if we fell into asking the gentile to turn it on, that would still only be a D'Rabbanan.

However, we do make a gezeirah on a gezeirah by milk and meat. Cold chicken may not be eaten with a cold glass of milk, even though the real prohibition is a steak cooked in milk. This rare case is because the Sages saw that way leads onto way when it comes to eating food.

  • Thanks for this terrific answer; now I will have to ask the difference between a shvut and a gezirah! -Shifra
    – SAH
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:25
  • Also, can we do a "shevut l'gezeirah" or vice versa?
    – SAH
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:31
  • 2
    Thanks for the credit, BH. You made me feel better than Trump this morning. :) Shevut means to "hold back, restrict". Gezeirah means "to cut, to decide a decree." Technically shevut means to not do while gez. means a decision to do or not to do. Both are equal D'Rabbanan terms. Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:42
  • I was wondering. Rabbinical melachas during Bein Hashemashos of Shabbos...isn't that either a gezeira l'gezeira or a shevut d'shevut? Why are they still prohibited? Thanks :)
    – SAH
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 5:28
  • "This rare case is because the Sages saw that way leads onto way when it comes to eating food." Source for that? Cold chicken with a glass of cold milk seems to be permitted explicitly in the Gemara.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 16:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .