- Spreading a permanent “rooftop” on Shabbos or Yom Tovwith either hard paneling or fabric is a Torah prohibition of boneh. Building a temporary structure is prohibited midrabanan.1If there is no intention to cover anything (e.g. a table or folded stroller) it is permissible (provided that one is not setting up “walls” as well).2
- If the “rooftop” was attached to walls before Shabbos, one is not considered to be creating a structure by opening it, and it may be opened on Shabbos even if one is erecting “walls” as well (e.g. a foldable bima).3 While some poskim permit opening a pre-attached covering even for shelter4 (e.g. camping tent, umbrella5), other poskim, including the Alter Rebbe, rule that it is only permissible when it is not for shelter.6
- Yet, many of those poskim who prohibit a pre-attached covering for shelter, the Alter Rebbe included,7 permit opening and closing a sukkah cover (shlak) attached by hinges to the wall.8 Two explanations are offered to resolve this apparent contradiction: (1) In the case of a sukkah, the entire framework is set up, and theshlak is like a door or window. This is unlike an umbrella where one is setting up the entire framework on Shabbos.9 (2) A sukkahalready has a roof of schach, and the shlak is only an extra layer.10
- A practical difference between these explanations is whether one may open the canopy on a stroller that was standing before Shabbos. If an existing framework is sufficient, one may open the canopy since the stroller was already standing, but if one needs an existing roof it would be prohibited. This matter remains under dispute of contemporary rabbonim.11
- If a partial “rooftop” of at least one tefach (3.3 inches) is already in place, Chazal allowed adding a temporary extension to it. 12 Thus, according to all opinions, one can make sure that the closed canopy is at least a tefach wide, and it may then be opened on Shabbos.
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