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This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
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- The basic idea of tzad is to contain a living creature to use it or something from it. One is also chayav for simply locking the door when the animal is already inside. If one grabs an animal that is also Tzad.
- Interestingly enough, a case when one is not always chayav is setting a trap. Some poskim say one is chayav for setting a trap that will definitely catch something on Shabbos. Others however say one is only chayav if the animal is already entering the trap as he sets it.
- The Achronim explain in different contexts why tzad may be different than other melachos. There are different variations of the idea that Tzeida doesn’t affect a physical change in the animal, the object of the melacha. Some extend this idea to explaining that unlike other melachos where the melacha is the goal-oriented, here it is the action that is prohibited. These approaches help explain why we find in various places that one’s mindset matters more by Tzad than by other melachos.
- Sephardim hold that it is permitted to put out a mouse trap on Shabbat since it is only grama. Ashkenazim are strict.
- While Meleches Tzad is very complex, it doesn’t appear to have any toldos. There is only one thing prohibited by this melacha-trapping.
Within what type of area is it considered trapping?
- The biblical violation of trapping means to trap an animal in an area where it’s trapped to the extent that a person could catch it in one grasp (without chasing it). However, it’s forbidden on a rabbinic level to trap an animal even if it can still escape being caught.
Which animals may not be trapped?
- The Torah-level prohibition of trapping on Shabbat applies only to an animal that people normally trap. If, however, it is a type of animal that is not normally trapped, trapping it is forbidden only rabbinically. 
- Some poskim permit trapping animals that move very slowly and are easy to trap, such as a small red ant or a turtle.
- One is also patur, and it may even be permitted, to trap a domesticated animal which one knows will come back to his domain at a later time, even if it is currently running around and not trapped.
- A bee is an example of an animal which isn't usually trapped, nonetheless it is still rabbinically forbidden to trap a bee. 
- The prohibition doesn’t apply to trapping people.
In the Mishkan
- In the mishkan they would trap rams to use their skins for the curtains and the chilazon for its techeles.
Closing the door on a pet
- Many poskim hold that one may close the door of his house even if he owns a pet provided that the pet either is totally domesticated, it doesn’t realize that it is being confined, or if the house is large and one’s intent is to protect the house from burglary.
Trapping a fly in a box
- According to Ashkenazim, it’s forbidden to close a small box with flies inside rather one should leave it a bit open or have a hole in the box. However, if the box is large enough that one wouldn’t be able to catch flies inside it, it’s permitted to close it. Additionally, if one doesn’t see any more flies in the box even if one’s not sure that there’s no flies left it’s permitted to close it.
- Article on The Melacha of Trapping on Shabbat by Rabbi Josh Flug
- Trapping Animals and People on Shabbos by Rabbi Michael Taubes
- Rashi and Rabbenu Chananel on 106a (See also Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 10:19) indicate that the paradigmatic way to trap an animal is to chase it into a house or some other sufficiently small place and close the door so that the animal can’t escape.
- Mishna 106b, Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 10:23
- Pri Megadim-Eshel Avraham 317:9 based on Tosfos 17b
- Mishna Brurah 316:18 from Magen Avraham based on Tosfos 17b. For more details see Toras Hamelochos vol. 5 p. 21-33
- Avnei Nezer O”C 189:7
- Shiurei Rav Shimon Shkop Kesubos 4:2
- See for some examples Rashba 107a based on Yerushalmi and Magid Mishna Shabbos 10:17
- Chazon Ovadia v. 5 p. 118
- Mishna Brurah 316:18
- Some meforshim try to explain how some ways of trapping, done differently than in the mishkan, are indeed only toldos. See Avnei Nezer O”C Siman 195
- See Mishna 106a and Rambam Shabbat 10:20
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 316:1 writes that regarding birds or deer one only violates the Deoritta when one traps it into a house where one would be able to catch it, otherwise it’s only Derabbanan.
- The Gemara (Shabbat 106b) records a dispute between Rabanan and Rabbi Meir. Rabanan hold that there is a biblical prohibition to trap an animal that normally is trapped and there is a rabbinic prohibition to trap animals that are not usually trapped. Rabbi Meir, however, argues that both types of animals are included in the biblical prohibition. The Rambam (10:19 and 24), Tur, and S”A 316:3 rule in accordance with Rabanan.
According to Rashi 107a s.v. sh’lo l’tzorech, this petur is only when you are not trapping it to use it or something from it. See Tosfos Rid on 107b who explains how the rules of melcha sheina tzricha l’gufa apply in this context.
Most Rishonim however think it is more of a categorical rule, because meleches tzad only applies to certain species (Tosfos 107a s.v. Shelo.). See Avnei Nezer O”C 189-7 who explains why such a limitation of the melacha exists.
Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 27:33 clarifies that “normally trapped” refers to animals that are trapped for meat or hide, but animals that are trapped so that they don’t injure a person are not included in the biblical prohibition.
- The Gemara (Shabbat 106b) distinguishes between a deer that is blind or sleeping and one that is lame, old, or sick. If one traps a deer in the first category, there is a biblical prohibition, because it could run away; if one traps a deer in the second category, there is a rabbinic prohibition, because it does not run away. This is codified by the Rambam (10:21 and 24), Tur, and S”A 316:2. The Mishna Brurah 316:8 explains the Rambam 10:24 as saying that trapping a young animal that cannot run away is only a rabbinic prohibition.
- Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 27:45 quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that it is permitted to trap an animal that is easy to trap and doesn’t usually run away, such as an ant or turtle. Nonetheless, one may not move them, as they are muktzeh. Rav Shlomo Zalman explains that a sick animal usually can run away, so trapping it is prohibited, but an ant always is easy to trap even if it tries to hide. The 39 Melachos (vol 3, p. 863) agrees with this ruling but qualifies that only small red ants may be trapped, while large black ants that can move very quickly may not be trapped.
- Orchot Shabbat (vol 1, p. 420, quoting Rav Elyashiv) and The Shabbos Home (p. 339, note 4, based on the Chazon Ish) forbid trapping animals that move very slowly and are easy to trap just like it is forbidden to trap an old or sick animal.
- Shulchan Aruch 316:12
- S”A 316:3 gives the example of a bee which isn’t usually trapped and still the prohibition to trap it is derabbanan.
- Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (chap 27 note 119) quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman who discusses this at length and seems to side with the argument that there's no trapping by people because a normal person wouldn't think of running away unless he's running away from the police but even in such a case since he's still among people he's not considered trapped. Yalkut Yosef 316:2 writes that the prohibition doesn't apply to people. see also Sh"t Avnei Nezer OC 189:22
- See Rashi 73a s.v. Hatzad es hatzvi. See also gemara 75a
- The Mishnah (Shabbat 106b) states that it is a biblical prohibition to close the door of a house on a deer. The Rashba (107a s.v. Tosefta) understands the Yerushalmi as saying that it is permitted to shut the door even if a deer is inside if one’s intent is to guard his house. The Ran (38a s.v. Ha), however, argues that if one knew that the deer was inside, even if he did not intend to trap, it is a psik reisha and is forbidden. Avnei Nezer O.C. 194 defends the Rashba, but Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 4:35:13) proves from the Rama 316:3 that the halacha does not follow the Rashba.
- S”A 316:1 establishes that it is a rabbinic prohibition to confine an animal to a space even if it is not completely trapped. Mishna Brurah 316:4 explains that an animal is considered “not completely trapped” if one couldn’t grab it with one exertion. Therefore, Mishna Brurah 316:5 writes that one may close the door of a house even though a bird is inside if it is cold outside and one’s intention is not to trap the bird. He reasons that while actually trapping the bird is a rabbinic prohibition, as the bird is not completely trapped in a house, it is permitted if one does not intend to trap it. Rav Mordechai Willig (Am Mordechai p. 174) explains that the Mishna Brurah holds that a psik reisha of a rabbinic prohibition is permitted when there is a great need. Therefore, the 39 Melachos (Tzad, note 144a) says that one may close one’s door if a pet is inside as long as he is closing the door to protect against burglary or the elements and the house is large. Orchot Shabbat (p. 421) agrees for a different reason.
- Chayei Adam 30:4 writes that a domesticated animal that relaxes and submits when grabbed by its owner may be trapped. Mishna Brurah 316:57 and The 39 Melachos (vol 3, p. 868) agree.
- Chut HaShani (vol 1, p. 120) writes that there is a rabbinic prohibition only if the animal feels that it is being confined. It is permitted to trap an animal in an area that is so large that it doesn’t even realize it is being confined. The Shabbos Home (p. 353) agrees.
- Rama O.C. 316:1 writes that it’s forbidden to close a small box with flies inside as it’s a violation of trapping and so one should leave it ajar or have a hole as the Mishna Brurah 316:14 writes. Mishna Brurah 316:15 infers from the Rama that in a large box where one wouldn’t be able to catch the flies it is permissible. Mishna Brurah 316:16 concludes that even though some achronim argue on the Rama one should be strict unless there are no flies in sight even if one’s unsure that there’s no flies left.