Halachah of sharpening pencils.

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    The last thing I do before I stop working during the day is sharpen all my pencils, so that they are ready when I start work the following morning. It occurs to me that this may be inappropriate on Friday afternoons, since I will not be – and should not be – writing on Shabbos. Is there any Halachic advice on this?

    Reb Eliezer

    Where do we find that you are not allowed to prepare things on a weekday for another weekday? Everyone knows that you are preparing for the day that you can write.


    It’s totally מותר.

    I wonder whether sharpening a pencil is מכה בפטיש, טוחן or even מחתך!


    The halacha is that you cannot sharpen them if they’re not yours — unless you have permission.

    If they’re your pencils, the halacha is you may sharpen them any of the six first days of the week. Unless the day is a Yom Tov.


    interesting .. Halachapedia refers to Shulchan Aruch 251:1, Mishna Brurah 251:5, discussing not starting new jobs after mincha.

    The wuestion is – are you viewing sharpening pencils as the first task in your yom rishon job, or do you just feel that a good engineer needs to keep his pencil sharpened? If you have an extra hour after you sharpen your pencil, would you be tempted to start the drawing? If yes, then it falls under “new job” category

    It is hard for me to relate, as I don’t think I sharpened my pencils this century .. But now am I right, when I train machine learning models, I prepare several versions and have it run over shabbat. Am I right doing thaty before shabbat and also making my computer chum in the corner (or in the cloud)?

    Reb Eliezer

    I think he sees it as an ending of a job because he does it as his last action of the day.

    Little Froggie

    Whew, this is a real complicated one.

    There are so many point and angles to consider. From a Halachah stand point I think it would be ok. But then there’s a hashkafa’dig view. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO PREPARE FOR ANOTHER DAY? Where’s your Emunah?!? Looking at it from an emotional viewpoint, won’t it be depressing knowing that you’re already started the next workweek? From a financial viewpoint, how do you bill those minutes spent sharpening your pencils now for next week – it could really get complicated.


    Preparing for another workday may show a lack of emunah in the coming of Moshiach.

    Sam Klein

    Little Froggie and Baltimore Maven

    So I guess according to you. A person is not allowed to ever invest in the future, rather it means in the stock market long term or just saving long term for your child’s college or Wedding in 20 years from now cause then it must be a lack of Emunah.

    Did I get that correctly from what you wrote?

    Reb Eliezer

    There is a joke where someone says, I found a job which is steady but it does not pay much. I am watching on top of a tower when Meshiach is coming.



    Kidushin ~ 30 says that it is a mitzva to teach a kid profession or business so that he will not become a bandit. Would this not betray a lack of emunah?! this actually may bring some light to the thread of proselytizing …

    I once was approached by a guy like that in the course of doing business. I quoted him that what do you do when you see people on the road marching to Yerushalaim in the middle of plowing season… They say they are going to greet Moschiach.. So – you finish plowing and then go (in that order). The guy accepted that and got back to work. So, maybe they see a group of people who spend their merits in hope of Hashem solving them from sakanot and parnasa, so they think they can lure some..


    “I wonder whether sharpening a pencil is מכה בפטיש, טוחן or even מחתך!”

    I think it’s muktzah and metaken kli. Your suggestion of mechatech also makes sense. I don’t think it’s tochen, nor makeh b’patish, which is only in the original manufacturing process.

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