Does a trampoline need to have a fence around it?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.
There is a mitzva from the Torah to erect a fence (maakeh) around a roof on one’s property—owned or rented—to prevent people from falling. The fence must be at least 10 tefachim and be sturdy enough to support the weight of a person leaning on it.
The Alter Rebbe writes that the roofs of houses in his time did not require a maakeh since people didn’t use them. The door leading to a roof that isn’t generally used and does not have a maakeh must be securely locked. Roofs that are used are obligated today as well.
In addition to the mitzva of maakeh, there is a lav (biblical prohibition) not to allow danger in one’s home. Thus, any potentially harmful element on his property that can lead to fatal consequences must be removed or taken care of to ensure it doesn’t cause any harm. However, a bracha is not recited on these measures which are taken to avoid a prohibition.
Poskim debate the status of a staircase and the roof of a non-dwelling structure (e.g. shul or storage) that is used. Some hold that it is obligated by maakeh and a bracha is recited, while others hold it is merely preventive and a bracha is not needed.
Common examples where the lav applies include:
- A pool must be properly covered or gated.
- Sharp tools, knives or toxic substances mustn’t be left accessible to young children.
- The top bunk of a bunk bed should have railing sufficient to prevent the particular sleeper from falling.
- Windows should be properly gated to prevent children who sit or stand on the windowsill from falling out.
- A trampoline must be properly fenced to protect those jumping on it even if it isn’t ten tefachim high.
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