Halacha for Thursday 22 Tammuz 5778 July 5 2018

A Ba’al Teshuva Who Laundered Clothing on Shabbat

Question posed by a Ba’al Teshuva: If one laundered one’s clothing on Shabbat when one was still non-Torah-observant and has since mended his ways and become a Ba’al Teshuva, will one be prohibited to benefit from these garments forever?

Answer: First of all, if one launders a garment in a forbidden manner on Shabbat, one may not even wear this garment on Motza’ei Shabbat. However, if one does so unintentionally, the garment may be worn immediately on Motza’ei Shabbat, as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 318) rules, “If one cooks on Shabbat intentionally, one may not partake of the food forever; however, others may partake of the food immediately on Motza’ei Shabbat. If this was done unintentionally though, it is prohibited (for all) on Shabbat, but it is permitted on Motza’ei Shabbat even for him.”

If Actions Performed by a Non-Religious Individual Can be Considered “Intentional”
In our situation, if we consider the laundering to have been done unintentionally, the clothing may be used on Motza’ei Shabbat. The question here was from a non-religious Jew who probably lacked Torah knowledge and fear of Heaven and was probably raised to view religious Jews as deprived and primitive people. Therefore, it is quite possible that we may consider him “unintentional” and permit him to use the garments which were laundered on Shabbat.

A Mixture of Clothing
An additional reason for leniency here is that this person does not know for certain which garments were laundered on Shabbat, for some of the clothes in his house were washed on Shabbat and others were washed during the week. If so, we are now dealing with a “mixture” of clothing laundered on Shabbat and clothing laundered during the week. Since the prohibition to benefit from a forbidden work on Shabbat is not a Torah prohibition, rather, it is only a rabbinic enactment, this only constitutes a doubt regarding a rabbinic law. This is especially true since we have before us a mixture of clothing laundered on Shabbat and clothing that was not laundered on Shabbat and most of the clothing was certainly laundered during the rest of the week, we can rely on the majority of clothing that was not laundered on Shabbat. (Since laundering the clothing again will incur an additional expense, this does not fall into the category of “an item which will eventually become permissible” which cannot be nullified. Unfortunately, we cannot explain this matter at length at this point.)

A Garment Laundered on Shabbat and then Laundered Again on a Weekday
Although all of the garments were at some point laundered on Shabbat, either the last time they were laundered or one of the times before, nevertheless, since the garments have since become soiled again and were laundered again on a weekday, it is no longer prohibited to wear them.

Although Hagaon Ben Ish Hai writes that if a handkerchief was laundered on Shabbat and was since soiled again and laundered once again on a weekday, there is no way to permit it, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 4 (page 441) disagrees with his opinion and writes that our Sages only banned benefitting from the product of a forbidden work on Shabbat when one benefits from the actual forbidden work; however, if the garment is soiled again and is laundered on a weekday, there is no longer any benefit from the forbidden work which was performed on Shabbat and the handkerchief may be used without any concern.

Summary: Regarding our scenario where it is uncertain whether or not the garments have been laundered last on Shabbat and the individual has now merited returning to his roots, he may use these garments as he wishes.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Laws of the Sechach (Roof) of the Sukkah and Decorations Hung from the Sechach

The Mitzvah to Beautify the Sukkah It is a great Mitzvah to beautify the Sukkah and decorate it as much as possible by adorning it with beautiful vessels and illuminating it with fine lights. The Mekubalim write that by honoring the Sukkah with fine lighting, one’s soul will merit resting pea......

Read Halacha

The Ten Days of Repentance

“Seek Hashem When He is Present” Our Sages teach us (Rosh Hashanah 18a) teach us that the words of the verse “Seek out Hashem when He is present, call Him when He is near,” refers to the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when Hashem is considered to be closer and mor......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah-The Days Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot

The days between Yom Kippur and the Sukkot holiday are indeed holy ones during which we are involved with the building of the Sukkah in order to go from strength to strength. Our Sages teach us that the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are treated as sanctified days and are similar to the day......

Read Halacha

Rosh Hashanah-Judgment Day

On both nights of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily eat certain symbolic foods that serve as a good omen for the upcoming year. The details and order of this custom can be found in the Halacha regarding the Order of Rosh Hashanah. Our Sages, in Masechet Rosh Hashanah (16a), have disclosed an invaluab......

Read Halacha

The Ten Days of Repentance

Important Note: Those who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and the like, should already seek the guidance of a G-d-fearing doctor and then consult with an expert halachic authority regarding how to prepare for Yom Kippur in terms of fasting since many times, due to proper preparation,......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles on the Days of Rosh Hashanah

Lighting Candles on Erev Rosh Hashanah On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to light candles in honor of the holiday before sunset as we do on Erev Shabbat. If candles were not lit before sunset, candles may be lit on Yom Tov as well in the permissible manner, i.e. by transferring a......

Read Halacha