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One of the 39 Melachos of Shabbos is destroying built structures, whether they be attached or detached from the ground.


  1. Anything that is forbidden to build is also forbidden to destroy. See page on Boneh. [1]
  2. If one destroys something shelo al menas livnos, he has not performed the melacha of sosair but has performed mekalkel. Performing a destructive melacha is usually considered Mekalkel, which is forbidden mi’derabanan, unless one does it in order to rebuild such as drilling a hole in a wall in order to insert a nail. [2]
  3. Destroying a utensil is also forbidden despite the principle of ein stirah b'kelim that only permits destroying a utensil that was improperly refurbished and pasted together after breaking. For example, breaking a regular barrel is forbidden on Shabbat, but it is permitted to break a barrel which was already broken and the pieces were pasted together.[3]



  1. Gemara Shabbat 122b
  2. Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 10:15 based on Gemara Shabbat 31b
  3. Rashi (Shabbat 146a s.v. shover) posits that destroying a barrel for the purposes of attaining food that is inside is permitted for the sake of enjoying Shabbat. Tosfot (Shabbat 146a s.v. shover) dismissing this approach being that it a melacha of Soter to destroy a perfectly good barrel. The Ran (on Rif Shabbat 61b s.v. matnitin) defends Rashi's approach that he understood ein stirah b'kelim to permit destruction of any utensil that is small. The Bet Yosef 314:1 clarifies that according to the Ran anything less than 40 seah is considered a small kli. Tosfot Eruvin 34b s.v. v'amay and Rosh (Eruvin 5) agree with the Tosfot. Tur and Shulchan Aruch 314:1 codify the opinion of Tosfot as the halacha. Mishna Brurah 314:7 notes that the Gra held like Rashi that it isn't soter even to destroy a complete kli.