Dancing on Shabbos

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. Fixing an instrument on Yom Tov and Shabbos is a biblical violation of the melacha of maka b’patish. The use of instruments on Yom Tov and Shabbos is also forbidden because chazal was concerned that if one of the instruments would break, one might come to fix it.

2, The Mishna in Beitza (36b) rules that it is forbidden to clap one’s hands, bang on one’s thighs, or dance on Yom Tov and Shabbos. Since dancing and clapping were generally done to the accompaniment of musical instruments, these actions were forbidden as well. This law is codified by the Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos 23:5) and the Shulchan Aruch (339:3).
3. Tosafos argues that clapping and dancing should be permitted given that the concern which led to the decree is no longer relevant. He feels that since nowadays very few people are skilled in instrument repair, there is little reason to fear that someone would come to repair an instrument which had broken. The view of Tosafos is cited by the Rama.

However, the poskim do not fully concur with the lenient view of Tosafos, for reasons beyond the scope of this article (see Shu”t Yechave Daas 2:58 and Shu”t Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld 194).

4. The Toras Shabbos (139:2), based on the Yerushalmi, defines dancing as the action when one picks up his first foot, and before it fully returns to the ground, the second foot has already begun to rise. Simply moving around in a circle would be permitted (see also the Agudah on Beitzah and Yechava Daas ibid.). [See also the Aruch Hashulchan and Shu”t Lev Avraham 42 for an additional reason to rule leniently]

5. In many chassidic circles the custom is to permit dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov. The Minchas Elazer (1:29) explains that dancing and singing is permitted for those who are engrossed in the simcha of Shabbos, since for them it is considered a mitzvah. There are, however, many poskim who have raised issues with the ruling of the Minchas Elazar (Yechava Daas, this is especially so according to the opinions [that we will cite shortly] who forbid dancing even with the chosson during his aufruf , which is a Mitzvah).

6. While the custom among many Chassidic circles is to permit dancing on Shabbos and Yom Tov, the custom for the majority of Jews is to be stringent (see Igros Moshe 2:100).

7. Many poskim prohibit dancing with the chosson during the aufruf. The Mishnah Berurah (339:8) only permits dancing on Simchas Torah where clapping and dancing is a mitzvah, as it is a form of honor for the Torah. However, for any other reason, such as for an aufruf, it would not be permissible. This is also the view of the Shulchan Aruch Harav (339:2) and the Kaf Hachaim (339:13).

8. However, the Chavos Yair (Mekor Chaim 511:1), Rav Chaim Palag’i (Lev Chaim 2:9), Rav Avraham Wahrman Rav of Butchetch (Eishel Avraham 339:3), and Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Shalmei Simcha page 115) all permit dancing during the aufruf.The Chazon Ish is also cited as saying that the custom is rule leniently (Maaseh Haish vol. 5 page 17).

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email  me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.

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