Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Bechukotai 5778

Ask the Rabbi: Getting a Kite Down from a Tree on Shabbat

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: If one flies a kite on Shabbat and it gets stuck in a tree, may he extricate it from the tree?


Answer: We wrote in the past about whether it is permitted to fly a kite on Shabbat. We concluded that there are not sufficient grounds to forbid it, despite the possibility a person could make mistakes in the process (as is possible regarding many permitted Shabbat activities). Your question relates to an important scenario, especially because kites often get stuck in trees.

It is certainly forbidden to climb the tree in order to free the kite. It is forbidden to climb trees on Shabbat, out of concern that one who does so will pull off a branch or fruit from the tree (Beitza 36b). Although there is discussion if this prohibition applies to totally barren trees (see Eiruvin 100b), the halacha is that it applies to all trees and firm vegetation (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 336:1) as long as it is above three tefachim off the ground (ibid. 2). It is also forbidden to lean a ladder against the tree and climb the ladder, due to a prohibition to use a tree or that which is considered the “side of the tree” (Shabbat 154b; Shulchan Aruch ibid. 13).

Is it permitted to, without climbing, free the kite by pulling on the kite strongly? In many cases in which the kite is strongly intertwined with the leaves and branches, pulling strongly enough to remove the kite will certainly knock off parts of the tree even if that is not his intention (p’sik reishei). Assuming that one has no use for what comes off, this would be only a Rabbinic violation of Shabbat even if were done on purpose (see Shabbat 73b). According to most poskim, a p’sik reishei is forbidden even on a Rabbinic prohibition (Mishna Berura 314:11; Yabia Omer I, OC 19 cites poskim on both sides of the debate).

What about cases in which it is not definite that any part of the tree will be severed? It is forbidden to shake trees or parts of trees (Rama, OC 336:13; Mishna Berura 336:63, based on Beit Yosef in the name of Orchot Chayim). This is forbidden because it is using the tree (see above) (see Shabbat 155a; Aruch Hashulchan, OC 336:37). Since this is not just a violation of muktzeh, it is forbidden not only when one does so directly with his hand, but even with another instrument, e.g., the kite string (see Shabbat 155a). This is apparently so even if he did not do so intentionally but as a p’sik reishei. Seemingly whenever one has to pull on a caught kite, branches and leaves will be moved.

Even if one could just lift the kite out without moving anything, it would still be forbidden. The gemara (ibid.) forbids placing things on a tree, as it is prohibited to use a tree on Shabbat. The Rama (OC 336:1) is among those who say that it is likewise forbidden to remove things from a tree. Some understand that the Rosh (Shabbat 5:2) does not view removing things from a tree as using it (see Shevet Halevi IV:74). This is part of the Shevet Halevi’s grounds for allowing one to easily pick a tallit that accidentally fell on a low bush. However, assuming the part of the tree in question is at least 10 tefachim (about three feet) high, there would still be a prohibition out of concern one might climb the tree in order to remove the object (see Rosh ibid.; Mishna Berura 336:12; Shevet Halevi ibid.). Indeed, the Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (16:7) forbids removing a ball on Shabbat from a tree upon which it fell, whether doing so by hand or with the help of a pole. While it is not necessary to point this out from a halachic perspective, note that the chances one will come to climb the tree to rescue the kite are probably higher than in the classic case of placing something in a tree above ten tefachim.

In conclusion, once the kite is stuck in the tree, it should not be taken down on Shabbat, in any manner. This is something the kite flyer should consider before flying it. A rabbi might be wise to consider the chances that kids will know/remember this halacha and be disciplined enough to follow it, when setting policy for his community.

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Leah Rachel bat Chana

Meira bat Esther

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

David Chaim ben Rassa

Lillian bat Fortune

Yafa bat Rachel Yente

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell in wars

for our homeland

Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar   10

Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9 5776

Mr. Shmuel Shemesh  z"l
Sivan 17 5774

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 5776

Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10   5774

Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

Kislev 9 5769

R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

R ' Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778


R' Leiser Presser z"l

ben R' Aharon Yitzhak & Bracha

24 Iyar
and members of his family
who perished in the shoah
 Al Kiddush Hashem

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23 5777

Hemdat Yamim
is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.