Thursday, April 4, 2013

Commuter trains on Shabbos


A Jew may not ride a commuter train or bus on Shabbat, even if there is no charge, and it doesn't start or stop for the sake of the Jew, and it remains within the techum. Since these vehicles are normally ridden by people who are going to work or to make purchases, riding them is prohibited as marit ayin.

(Rav Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 1:44)

Have a great day,


  1. wow - this seems to suggest there is no melacha involved, i.e. the weight of the passenger is insignificant and does not increase the electrical output of the train.

    It seems to suggest that taking the train would be okay if it was done to avoid a negative biblical commandment. True?

  2. Raz-
    Indeed, Rav Moshe does not consider the weight of the passenger to be at all significant.
    What sort of case do you envision in your second paragraph?

    1. Visiting a choleh. or comforting a mourner in certain unique cases (i.e. where the death was discovered on shabbat itself and it was known the mourner would be aggrieved if so and so didn't come to visit). or someone addicted to drugs or gambling feels he is about to be tempted and needs to attend a meeting that is only available by public transit.
      but just to confirm - the question relates to trains. Buses would be assur since they veritably involve extra gasoline use?

    2. In the first two cases you mention, what is the biblical prohibition you avoid?

      In the addiction case, I might distinguish between drugs and gambling.

      Bus - Do they?

  3. Failure to visit a choleh, could cause them emotional or physical pain? Thus violating not to aggrieve one's fellow (I realize some view this solely referring to money).

    If you ask an addicted gambler, they might say it's worse than drugs, since the druggy forfeits only his own life, whereas a gambler forfeits his life, his soul, and the lives of those who depend on him/her.

    Buses I do believe consume marginally more gas with one passenger. So I've been told

  4. Raz-
    1. I would love to see a source suggesting that failure to visit violates a lo taaseh of onaah; do you have a source for it?

    2. Again - I would be interested to see a source.

    3. And again...