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If there is a fire in my house on Shabbat, can I extinguish it?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Shabbat » Forbidden Activities | Subscribe | What is RSS?


One cannot desecrate the Shabbat for the sake of saving monetary possessions.

Practically speaking, unless you live in a desert far away from civilization every fire poses a danger to human life. Even if you and your family can evacuate the premises, the fire - which can easily spread - still poses a threat to your neighbors. So you must put out the fire, or at least get a non-Jew to put it out for you, unless you are positive that this fire will not put any life in harm's way.

TAGS: fire


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fire on shabot, holidays

Posted by: Anonymous on Sep 13, 2005

a woman in a dorm knocked over her shabot candles and refused to put them out. Another woman, a jew, put them out.

a man in a neighbor's house put out a rag on a holiday because the owner hesitated.

The only way you'd know that the fire would not kill the neighborhood is to watch it, but then it's too late.


Posted by: Anonymous, Los Angeles, CA, USA on Dec 28, 2005

I discovered a loophole in the observance of the above halacha:

In "Shemirath Shabbath" by Rav Yehoshua Y. Neuwirth, it states, under 30:12 a-d:

12. a. One may tell a non-Jew on Shabbath to save sacred writings from being destroyed, even if, in doing so, he will have to perform an act prohibited by the Torah.

b. It follows that one may tell him to put out a fire in order to save sacred writings, even when there is no danger to life.

c. Sifrei Torah, the Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Talmud, halachic works, prayer books and other Torah-study books, as well as extracts from them and commentaries, are all considered to be sacred writings.

d. From this stems the practice of telling a non-Jew to put out a fire, even when there is no danger to life, in order to save the mezuzoth fixed to the doorposts.

Thus, you are technically allowed, in 99% of the cases, to ask a non-Jew (never Jews) to put out a fire due to the (frequent) proximity of sacred writings, even a mezuzah.
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.