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Oct 20, 2021

OCD and frumkeit or fair warning?

I stopped to drink some water from a public water fountain in the streets of RBS and noticed something written on the frame of the fountain just beside the dispenser, the perfect spot for a person to see it when he bends over to drink:

The writing says:
Be Careful!
 It is prohibited to use this on Shabbos as it waters the little leaves between the tiles of the sidewalk.

The fountain is designed in a way to drain the excess water to a cup near the bottom for cats and dogs (and other animals) to drink from, and some of it spills over to the sidewalk/

If this is a problem for Shabbos, it should be a problem for the entire year of shmitta as well.

What do you think - is this really a serious problem as drinking from the fountain will inadvertently water the weeds in the sidewalk tiles (I happened to not notice any in the path of the water right now - in the picture too you can see the sidewalk is basically clear of weeds in the tiling, but surely at other times they might be growing) or is this some level of OCD and it is not really a problem? Someone's personal frumkeit made him feel justified to deface public property or is it a fair warning?

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  1. It shouldn't be a problem if you're not trying to water them. It's always best to be strict here, but it's not really a problem.

  2. I always wondered about this as well. I assumed it was assur on Shabbos, and just avoid using water fountains like this. I don't think it's a problem during Shmittah, since incidentally watering plants (especially plants you don't own) isn't an issue (as far as I understand).

    If it is assur on Shabbos, I don't think this qualifies as OCD. Even if not assur, it's also not OCD, just a mistake.

  3. Is it a psik raisha that the plants will get watered? If not, then it is muttar, since you do not intend to do it.
    (Even if it is a psik reisha, it is lo nicha lei, which is a famous machlokes between the Arukh and Tosafos.)


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