DISCLAIMER: I understand that the ruling in this article was not whether or not a firearm is Muktzah. But the ruling does allow for Jews to carry if they feel lives may be in danger.
One of the most common questions I’m asked as a gun-carrying Jew who is observant of the Jewish Sabbath is whether or not it’s Muktzah (or separated) for someone to carry a firearm on the Sabbath. For Jews in America, that question has finally been answered. First though, a little background.
For those who read this, the term Muktzah is the idea that certain items may not be touched or used on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays. For example, a car or pen is Muktzah. That said, an item that has no use for a Jew to use on the Sabbath would also be considered Muktzah.
For years, Orthodox Jews who carried on the Sabbath have been going back and forth on whether or not their firearm is considered Muktzah. Why? Well, the chances of an anti-Semitic event happening to you are slim and there is no reason why someone should need a firearm. That is one side. On the flip side, many Jews still carried because it is not about the chances of something happening but the odds. I, for example, have been carrying since I moved to Texas nearly five and a half years ago.
In November of 2014, there was a horrific attack in a synagogue in Israel where two Palestinian men entered the place of worship with axes, knives, and a gun and murdered 5 men. Within two days, Rabbi Dovid Yosef, a leading figure of the Sephardi community said, “In light of the current danger, I think that anyone who has a gun license should carry it on Shabbat.”
But American Jews now have an answer of their own. A question was asked to one of the leading Rabbis of world Jewry and a leading mind in Jewish Halacha (law) on whether or not Jews can carry a firearm on the Sabbath. A Rabbi from Monsey, New York (Where the Hanukah stabbings occurred) told Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky that many members of the synagogue want an opinion on if they are allowed to carry a firearm on the Sabbath. Rabbi Kanievsky’s initial response is only if it’s Pikuach Nefesh (Your life is in immediate danger). The question was further explained to Rabbi Kanievsky that it is not about immediate danger but with a sudden and significant rise in anti-Semitism, it is about preparing.
With a simple answer, Rabbi Kanievsky responded, “They are able.”
This is incredibly momentous for many Jews, especially in America. Breaking the Sabbath is a cardinal sin for Jews and many, carrying a firearm which many believed to be Muktzah, was not an option. With Rabbi Kanievky’s declaration that Jews can now carry a firearm on the Sabbath, I hope that many Jews who refrained from carrying in fear that they would desecrate the Sabbath will now take their safety into their own hands and begin carrying.
To see the video of the ruling click here.