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Inspired by Is one permitted to fly a kite on Shabbat?

That question asks about a situation where there is an eiruv. I assume that the concern is carrying the kite to the place where it will be flown and not whether "flying" is the same as "carrying" (though I may be wrong). It also begs the question if whether the kite strays by dint of its string's length over an area outside the eiruv if that is a problem but I am wondering something different:

Can I walk outside (where there is no eiruv) on Shabbat holding a string attached to a helium balloon?

While I am securing it, I am not keeping it UP and defying gravity (carrying) but holding it down. Is that hotza'ah? If I were to be holding 10 or 15 balloons, then controlling them and keeping them from escaping would take effort, but does that become a melacha?

If the string unties, the balloon flies away (no fixing) but then I am carrying the string, so is the balloon actually keeping me from doing the melacha? If so, can I attach other things to the balloon and "not carry" them because the balloon is doing the work?

  • Presumably this would be contingent on the height of the balloon+string, since objects above a certain height are not considered in the public domain. See gemara Shabbos re: things extending downward from a non-public space into a public space. – Isaac Kotlicky Jun 5 '17 at 15:01
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    Even rolling something through a public domain is hotzaa. I don't see what gravity has to do with anything – Double AA Jun 5 '17 at 15:03
  • @DoubleAA but that's because the object rests in the public domain - the ground. There's a machlokes about a thrown object (kelutah kemi shehunchah dami), but that primarily is because the assumption is that the object will eventually come to rest on Shabbos. The balloon can remain aloft for days, so any hanachah isn't actually occurring on shabbos... – Isaac Kotlicky Jun 5 '17 at 15:20
  • Carrying anything whatsoever is carrying. Not much to it. What difference does it make if the balloon has a string or not? Are you not picking up the balloon and transferring it from one place to another? – DanF Jun 5 '17 at 15:20
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    Here's a cute idea: We use ארון נושא את נושאיו to say that this was one of the melachot of the mishkan and therefore assur. ;) – Nic Jun 6 '17 at 14:21
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As per the comment of @doubleAA, the translation of hotzaa as "carrying" is misleading, and "translating" or "transferring" would perhaps be more precise translations. The melocho essentially concerns translating a non-moving object from a static position to a halachically distinct static position. If the balloon and/or objects attached to the balloon are in an initial state of rest in one of two halachically distinct domains (public and private) and you directly transfer them to a static position in the other of the two domains, that is the biblical prohibition of hotzaa. The actual weight, effort, and work are not particularly relevant to the biblical concept of the melocho.

  • See if you can provide some source for this. It is an area that, I think, confuses "learned" people - meaning people who are smart enough to admit that they don't know what they think they know. In my "humility", I include myself in that group. – DanF Jun 5 '17 at 18:09
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    Can something be halachically "at rest" if it's floating in the air? – Nic Jun 6 '17 at 14:17
  • @Nic Something can be "at rest" floating in water. – Scimonster Jun 6 '17 at 20:20

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