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Writing On Different Surfaces On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Writing on Different Surfaces 📝🍾

״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)


Is it considered Kotev if one writes without using ink?

May one use one's finger to write or draw using the condensation of a bottle?

May one write on a windshield of a car through the fog that is on the window?



Writing is only considered a biblical transgression if one’s writing is a lasting inscription, through writing with a durable pigment, such as ink or paint, to a surface that it will endure upon, such as paper or parchment. Even though the writing does not last forever, such as writing that is written with a pencil, it suffices that it should last for a considerable period of time for it to be considered a “lasting inscription.” [1]

However, It is still rabbinically forbidden to write writing that can endure temporarily.

Examples of this include:

a. Writing with any colored beverage that fade quickly, or on a surface from which the impression will fade. [2]

b. Drawing letters or figures in the condensation formed on a fogged object, such as a window or glass. [3]

c. Drawing figures in moist sand or soil, or to mold wet sand into a figure. [4]

d. Drawing in snow, or creating a figure in snow.


[1]. See Biur Halachah 340, “B’mashkin”; Mishnah Berurah 340:22; Minchat Shlomo 91:11. See also in Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 148 who states that if the writing does not last until the end of Shabbat then it is considered a writing that does not endure, and is only rabbinically forbidden.

[2]. Shulchan Aruch 340:4; Mishnah Berurah 340:19.

[3]. Mishnah Berurah 340:20-22. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 148 states that it is permitted to make a line in the window, without making a specific shape or letter.

[4]. Mishnah Berurah 340:20-22.

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