Review Sheet for Maleches Matir (Siman 317)
The Av Melacha
The Melacha of Matir in the Mishkan
The Melacha of Matir in the Mishkan involved the untying of knots in order to adjust the size of the nets used for catching the Chilazon. Sometimes the nets would rip and would need to be untied at certain sections.
Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 10:7): He says that the principle of the Melacha of Matir is the untying of any assur knot. If the knot was chaiv m’dorysa then untying it is chaiv m’dorysa, if the knot was assur m’derabanan then untying it is assur m’derabanan and so on. The same would apply to the Toldah of Kosheir. The Rambam said that twining rope or the like is Kosher. Untwining the rope would be Matir.
Is Matir a Conditional Melacha
Tosafos (Shabbos 73a “Hakosher”): He has a suffeik whether Matir is chaiv only on the condition that you are untying a knot for the sake of retying it afterwards or whether it is a Melacha on its own.
Rosh (ibid): The Rosh indicates that the Melacha is in fact conditional. The reason it must be so is because untying is essentially not a creative act. Only if it is being done for the express purpose of retying can it be defined as a “Creative Activity”. Even according to the Rosh it would be assur m’derabanan to untie a knot if you didn’t have the constructive intention in mind.
Rambam (ibid): The Rambam does not make any distinctions in the Melacha.
Biur Halacha (317:1 Dino): He concludes that we are choshesh for the opinion that Matir is a Melacha on its own and therefore is assur even when it is not being done with the intention of retying the knot. His rationale is very simple. We will see ahead in the Melacha of Korayah that since it is essentially a destructive act therefore the Mishnah says you are only chaiv when you tear with the intention of sewing. With all of that in mind the ensuing Gemara says that it is sufficient that the tearing is for any constructive purpose even if you had no intention of sewing the tear. Based on this the Biur Halacha concludes that any time you are untying a knot for some constructive benefit (the alleviation of the knot that was preventing access or use of an item) this is sufficient to be M’chaiv.
Rema (317:1)/ Biur Halacha (317:4 “Shainom K’vuim”): It would follow from the above principles that a double knot would be assur to untie on Shabbos since it is assur m’derabanan to tie. However since this is only a chashash d’rabanan the Rema says that in a time of suffering it is mutar to untie it.
Furthermore based on the rules of what is considered temporary it follows that it is mutar to untie a knot that was tied for less than 24 hours. Any knot that was tied for more than 24 hours but less than a week is mutar to untie in a time of need, suffering, or mitzvah.
Mishnah Brurah (317:7): He quotes the Yam Shel Shlomo who says that if you can’t get a knot untied (of the type that is permissible to open) you can cut through it. However you should refrain from doing this in front of an unlearned person because he may then come to think that it is mutar to do the Melacha of Kosher.
Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (15:54): He says that the issur of the Yam Shel Shlomo to cut a knot in front of an unlearned person is only when you cut through the knot itself but if you just cut the string it is mutar in any case.
Orchos Shabbos (Maleches Kosher and Matir): He qualifies this halacha by saying that the only reason the Shmiras Shabbos is allowing you to cut through the string is because the knot itself is technically mutar to untie. However by a knot that is assur to untie (a knot made for more than 24 hours or a double knot for example) it would be assur to cut through the string because you have accomplished the same exact result as untying the knot itself. (Of course if it is a time of need, mitvah or suffering then it is mutar to untie or cut a knot that was tied for up to a week.
Untying or Untangling an Accidental Knot
Chayeh Adam (Mishnah Brurah 317:7): He says that if you were tinkering with a mutar knot (like a slipknot for example) and then, by accident, it got stuck into a tight knot (the nature of which would be assur to tie on Shabbos) it is mutar to untie it because we view that knot as if it was tied with the intent to untie it within 24 hours. If you can’t get it untied then you can cut it.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (S.S.K. 15 note 194): If after the knot accidentally got stuck you decided that you are happy to leave the knot then we no longer treat it a temporary. Therefore from that point on it would be assur to unite the knot.
Mishnah Brurah (317:21): He quotes the Levush who says that a knot that was tied for a one time (disposable use) has the status of a temporary knot even if it was put there to last for more than a week. The reason this is mutar is because this was never intended to be a “classic knot”. Only a knot that is potentially tied and untied has the status of the knot. This knot is just meant to last until someone purchases the item and then it is untied and thrown away. Based on this any such knot would be mutar to untie on Shabbos.
*Furthermore it is mutar to cut through the string on the side of such a knot or through the knot itself (if no unlearned person is present)
Mishnah Brurah (317:24): Based on the principle of Shvus D’shvus B’makom Tzorech Gadol you can ask a non-jew to tie or untie a semi permanent (even craftsman like) knot if there is a pressing need.