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The Gemara in Eiruvin 104a quotes a dispute regarding whether one may make music on Shabbos: Rav Menashe is stringent and forbids any production of sound, while Rava is relatively lenient and only forbids music. The Beis Yosef (OC 338:1) quotes the Rif and Rambam, who pasken like Rava, and he infers from the Rosh that he holds likewise. He therefore paskens in Shulchan Aruch (Ibid.) that only music making is forbidden, and the Mishnah Berurah (ad. loc.) emphasizes that this is true even with one's hands and no instrument.

The Rambam the Shulchan Aruch quotes (Shabbos 23:4) explains that the prohibition is because of Tikkun, that the instrument might break, and he might come to fix it.

It sounds like the Rambam is saying that it is d'Rabbanan as a gezeirah on the melachah d'Oraisa of fixing. We have a rule that you cannot make a gezeirah to protect another gezeirah (Beitzah 3a et. al.). The only rationale I can think of would be to prohibit banging on the table or clapping would be as a gezeirah for instruments. As the Mishnah Berurah is explaining the Shulchan Aruch, who, in turn, is basing himself off of the Rambam, the Mishnah Berurah would seem to have a gezeirah l'gezeirah issue.

Are we forced to say kulah chadah gezeirah hee (it was all established at the same time as one decree), or is there a separate reason for clapping that avoids this issue?

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My understanding of the rationale of שמא יתקן כלי שיר is that he may come to bring a musical instrument to a level of usability. In other words, יתקן does not mean he will fix something in the repair sense, but rather that he will fix something for use in any way, by bringing it out of a prior state of non-usability, natural or otherwise. After all, תיקון מנא -- which the idea of יתקן is clearly a reference to -- is an abstraction of מכה בפטיש, the מלאכה of completing.

This way of framing the rationale sets up the basis for a direct גזרה on clapping, that while parallel to, is not built on top of the גזרה on playing musical instruments: you cannot clap because you may come to complete an instrument. Clapping can lead to making instruments, or at least putting on their finishing touches, just as it can lead to putting the finishing touches on broken ones, i.e. repairing them. Its the same מלאכה of מתקן מנא that we are directly worried about in both manifestations of the גזרה.

This understanding seems to have been held by Tosafos (ביצה ל, א ד"ה תנן) who refer to the rationale as if it is שמא יעשה כלי שיר, that he might "make" a musical instrument.

  • A good example could be tuning a guitar string. – Double AA Apr 19 '17 at 4:50
  • I'm curious how they made that jump, but I suppose it sounds logical. – DonielF Apr 19 '17 at 15:35

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