Friday, October 11, 2013

Shabbos Alert: Rainbow rubber band looms by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

5 Towns Jewish Times   Fifth grade Bais Yaakov 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.

But let’s step back a bit to describe the latest craze that has hit not only the Bais Yaakov’s 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 craze presents both challenges and opportunity. The challenges can be divided into three categories.  We will go through each one.


One challenge 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. [...]


  1. I am happy that the rabbis are using their precious time to these very important and for so many people vital issues. I am glad that they don´t waste time on eg the problem of agunot or abusers in their communities...

    1. You do not think that young people being mechlal shabbat is important?

  2. nyone who learned Hilchos Shabbos well, even as a girl in school, knew that these bracelets were a problem. Like the 'lanyard' before, and the embroidery ones since, this IS the melacha. Too bad they had to ask a 'sheila' and make the Rabbi look frivolous.

  3. Something about this bothers me. Even if you don't know all the melachos related to weaving, it seems pretty clear to me that what is being described here is at least a form of weaving, and hence at least one melacha. Someone seriously thought they could do that on Shabbos?

    I assume we are talking about MAKING these bracelets as opposed to WEARING them on Shabbos after they were made on a weekday. Anything wrong with the wearing them once made?

  4. Why call it a crazy craze? (youth are not involved with the looming on Shabbos)

    Is everything that our youth enjoys called a CRAZY CRAZE, it is excellent for eye-hand coordination (especially for the males), it is fun, tradable and quite inexpensive. Since many activities have been banned....YEHI RUBBER BAND BRACELETS....

  5. i think it is very commendable for the Rabbanim to publicize this very real potential for chilul shabbos. It is very naive to belive that frum kids aren't doing the loom on shabbos. Even a kid who is proficient in all the hilchos of shabbos (which unfortunately most are not) may not realize that this counts as weaving, having never seen weaving first hand. I recall my father telling us when he was getting his S'mecha he had to ask his mother to show him how to kasher meat since in shiur it was just theoretical and he wasn't aware of the practical application of it. To a kid who just discovered another pattern it is very addicting to see if you can make that pattern as well. I know cause I myself have tried the loom and was thrilled that I was able to make a simple charm, and I am a pediatric doctor. A kid would just see this as a fun activity to do on a long Friday night or Shabbos day. Why would it occur to a child or even a teenager that this could possibly be a violation of not 1 but 4 different Avos Melachos of Shabbos. I would love to see a follow up to this article with the sources used and quoted by the Rabbanim about these issues

  6. I'm glad they addressed this, lots of people in our community are asking b/c we all have kids that like this toy and no one knows much about weaving.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.