[Avodah] carrying an ID card on shabbat

Kenneth Miller kennethgmiller at juno.com
Sun Mar 10 08:33:46 PDT 2013

R' Micha Berger asked:

> What does an extra button sown into the inside of
> a garment do? It's neither batel-able nor enhance
> the garment (until removed for use). It's just an
> easy way not to lose it before you need it. RSZA
> says it's the permanent attachment. I don't see any
> of this other sevara in the SSK. I could faster
> argue the ID card enhances the garment because it
> enables me to wear it in more places without
> risking a fine.

As I read it,  we have here a machlokes between Rav Neuwith in the main text of Shmirat Shabbat K'hilchatah 18:30, versus the view of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in footnote 131 there. (Citations refer to the 5739 edition. Please refer to my last paragraph below, regarding the 5770 edition.)

Rav Neuwirth compares spare buttons to passul tzitzis which - if he plans to repair the tzitzis - are important in their own right, and are no longer batel to the beged, and one would violate hotzaah by going outside with them.

(Before continuing,  I'd like to point out that in my experience in learning about Meleches Hotzaah, tzitzis are seen as a "noy" to their beged. I don't recall anyone suggesting that the tzitzis are part and parcel *of* the beged.) If I'm reading RSZA correctly, he is saying that spare buttons *are* a normal part of the beged (evidenced by being put there as part of the beged's manufacturing),  and the fact that the button is currently not in a useful location is irrelevant. He also distinguishes between a spare button and a torn button-loop, by pointing out that right *now* he wants to use the loop and is unable to (making it a non-batel burden), while the spare button is filling its tafkid well by sitting in the reserve location (making it part of the beged).

I can't see how RSZA's logic might be used to permit an ID card. In fact, he closes with a similar case: "See the Beit Yosef, end of 301, regarding money that was sewn into a garment, which is [forbidden] only because it is designed for [the money to be] removable. *That's* why it's not batel to the beged, which is not so in our case, where the button is permanently attached to the beged, never to be removed, but only to have its position changed when necessary. This is quite normal, it is batel to the beged, and it is not a masa." -- But the ID card *will* be removed, right?

On a side note, I'll point out that although the SSK does not allow going out with spare buttons, he does offer a solution to the ID card problem: 18:22 - "It is mutar for anyone to go out to a Reshus Harabim during a war or other emergency with his identification, by transporting it k'l'achar yad, such as by inserting it into his hat, provided that he is going to a dvar mitzvah, to tefilah, or to learn Torah."

Ad kan the 2nd edition of the SSK, published in 5739. The 3rd edition (5770) has a noteworthy change. In 18:30, Rav Neuwirth now allows the sewn-in spare buttons,  "provided that they are plain buttons which no one would be makpid on." But this would not change anything about ID cards, which one *is* makpid on.

Akiva Miller
How to Sleep Like a Rock
Obey this one natural trick to fall asleep and stay asleep all night.

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