Ask The Rabbi

Roller-Blades

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Shabbat, Roller-Blades

Jack Nadelman wrote:

The nearest Orthodox service to me is about two and a quarter miles and I live in S. Florida where there are only two seasons: summer and tourist. Well, it's summer now and between the heat and the humidity (it is both) it feels like a sauna when I walk to shul. Anyways. Why not Rollerblades? Can I Roller-blade my way to services on Shabbat?


First, there's the prohibition of carrying from a public domain to a private domain on Shabbat. When you get to the synagogue, I imagine that you would take off your rollerblades. Taking them off outside and carrying them inside is forbidden (as you wrote in your follow-up message that there is no "Eruv" where you live). To avoid this prohibition you would need to wait until you are inside the building to remove the skates. When leaving you would put on the skates inside, and only then go out.

But there is another consideration: Our Sages prohibited going outside wearing certain articles of clothing that you are likely to remove. For example, certain types of jewelry you might take off to show to friends. Or shoes that are too big for your feet. This prohibition is intended to prevent you from taking off the article of clothing or jewelry and accidentally carrying it in the Reshut HaRabim (public domain).

Would this prohibition include rollerblades? After all, rollerblades are typically removed at the door and carried inside - for instance, when there are steps to climb, or if there is carpeting inside.

I posed this question to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita. Rabbi Scheinberg said that we do not find this prohibition extending beyond those things mentioned in the Talmud. Therefore, it would not apply to rollerblades.

There is another consideration, however: "K'vod Shabbat" - Honoring the Shabbat. We honor Shabbat by wearing our nicest clothing, eating delicious food, singing beautiful Shabbat songs and prayers. The way we speak on Shabbat, e.g., not talking about business or weekday matters - and even the way we walk - is part of "K'vod Shabbat." Rabbi Scheinberg said unequivocally that skating is a "zilzul," meaning that it is out of line with the honor due to Shabbat.

In other words, your dreams of becoming a Quick-Tzaddik are simply that: Quixotic. Or, as they say in Yiddish, "S'kate nisht*."

* "Don't skate," a play on the Yiddish phrase "S'gate Nisht" meaning, "It doesn't go...it's improper."

Sources:

  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 301:1,7; O.C. 303.

 
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