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Puzzles & Combination Locks On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Kotev - Puzzles & Combination Locks 🔒

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


May one put together a puzzle on Shabbat if it will create a word? What about doing a combination on a lock?


Interesting question.

It is permitted to make and take apart a puzzle on Shabbat. However, one should be careful to spread out all of the pieces before putting them together so as to avoid issues with Borer. [1] Similarly, it would be permitted to play with loose blocks or cards that have letters on them even if one will spell out a word. Some are stringent, one should follow ones custom. [See footnote 2]

Similarly, It is permitted to open a combination lock that has several rotating wheels and requires forming a word or set of numbers in order to open. This is not considered writing since no letters are being formed and the wheels were previously affixed. [3]


[1]. Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 42:6.

[2]. Be’er Moshe 6:26; Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah, chap. 16, footnote 67; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 42:6; Menuchat Ahavah, vol. 3, 22:16. See also in Orchot Shabbat 15:17 who permits playing scrabble even if the blocks are placed into fitted grooves. However, when playing Scrabble, if one normally writes when playing, then one should refrain from playing Scrabble on Shabbat lest one forget and accidentally write. See in Chayeh Adam 39:11 who states that one should not play any game that one normally writes when playing.

[3]. Tzitz Eliezer 13:44; BaTzel HaChochmah 2:78; Mishneh Halachot 5:48; Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 133.

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