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Magnets on Shabbos

Are magnets muktzah, or may one play with them on shabbos?

Answer:

It is permitted to play with magnets on Shabbos, and they are not considered muktzah.

Sources: There is no melachah involved in magnets, and provided that they are meant for a permitted use, such as a game, there is no prohibition of using them on Shabbos. Some have raised the issue of sticking a magnet on a fridge on Shabbos, because the size of the fridge would consider this an act of adding to a fixed construction. However, because the nature of fridge magnets is to take them on and off often, it would appear that this would not constitute a problem. See Rema, Orach Chaim 314, and Or Le-Zion, vol. 2, no. 208, who discussed attaching something onto a cupboard or fridge by means of a vacuum.

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4 Comments

  1. i was wondering about an art kit which is a bunch of different coloured magnetic dots that one places onto a flat 12″ x 12″ magnetic board. it is meant to be used over and over again, not to produce an permanent end product. can one play with that on shabbos and make patterns? What about making shapes such as triangle or circle. what about making a “picture” of a flower or tree? I am an O.T. and would like to give it to one of my patients who needs to work on fine motor and visual sequencing. looking forward to your response. Thanking you in advance, mp

    1. The game can be used on Shabbos, though adults should preferably avoid making pictures of trees, birds, etc. (there’s no problem for shapes and patterns).
      The rationale of this ruling is based on discussions of poskim concerning Scrabble, which is in turn based on the halachic discussion of forming letters by closing the pages of a book, cutting a cake with letters on, and so on (see Magen Avraham 340:6; Chazon Ish 61:1; Mishnah Berurah 340:17), which I won’t go into here.
      Best wishes!

  2. I am commenting as an electrical engineer with a strong background in physics and electrodynamics. Electricity and Electromagnetism are very similar. We do not complete circuits on shabbat. Ie turing on light, etc. While it is a surprise, opening and closing a refrigerator is breaking and completing a magnetic circuit. This something to think about…

    1. Agreed, it is something to think about indeed, and the final word has not been said.

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