Sign In Forgot Password

The Rainbow Loom

11/13/2013 07:06:44 PM


The Rainbow Loom- A great fad, but can my kids use it on Shabbos

The following was largely taken from an article written by R' Yair Hoffman.
Fifth grade Ashar girls and Gedolei HaPoskim in Hilchos Shabbos finally have something very much in common. Both are very much excited about the new rainbow looms – albeit for quite different reasons.  For the Poskim, finally after all these years, the esoteric malachos of Maisach, Ossei Shtei Batei Nirim, Oreg and Potzaya, have practical everyday application that people are actually doing. These are four of the 39 malachos that dealt with the ancient weaving process and as such have had limited application during modern times.

But let’s step back a bit to describe the latest craze that has hit not only the girls schools but even the boys Yeshivos.  There are miniature weaving looms in which colorful rubber bands are fitted onto and the practitioners of this new pastime are now weaving colorful rubber band jewelry.

The new fad has allowed for hours of creative fun for our kids, but has also created a Hilchos Shabbos conundrum.
The Issues:

The problem is that entire cadres of young girls and boys are now unwittingly violating four of the most obscure Av malachos of Shabbos.

Maisach is setting up the loom.  In our case it is setting up the rubber bands on the plastic mini-loom.   Other Poskim hold that it is only when the loom is set up on the horizontal side that Maisach applies.  Regardless, Maisach will be violated when the new jewelry is being woven.

Oseh batei Nirin in the theory is the setting up of the loom itself.  The loom used in this modern manifestation works differently.  It does not have the back and forth pedals, but according to some of the explanations found in the Rishonim, the loom used would be a violation of Oseh Batein Nirim too.  Some Poskim hold that the violation of Osei Batei Nirim involves merely passing the strings through the weaving machine.

There is also the Malacha of Oreg which is the actual weaving.  This can be violated even without the loom.  The Rainbow Loom offers that possibility too.  Indeed, from the fact that there are so many combinations, each different pattern can be a different violation of the above three Av Malachos.

The fourth category of prohibited Malacha involving weaving is called Potzaya.  This can involve removing the woven item from the loom, or removing one of the bands from the total bracelet.

Some would like to argue that because the main material being used is made of rubber bands, that it is temporary and not a violation of the weaving Malachos.  However, most rishonim understand that temporary means less than 24 hours.  Experience shows that this is definitely not the case here.
I thank and salute the many people in KBY who have posed this question to me and who continue to demonstrate a serious commitment to preserving strict observance of Hilchos Shabbos. Please continue to ask me, or have your children ask me, any questions that pertain to properly keeping halacha.

Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784