Halacha Date: 2 Shevat 5780 January 28 2020
In the previous Halachot we have explained the general laws of the forbidden work of coloring on Shabbat. In the previous Halacha we have discussed that if one eats color-secreting fruits like strawberries or pomegranates, one must take care not to wipe one’s hands in a napkin while eating so as not to color the napkin with the color on one’s hands, in accordance with the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 320, Section 20).
We have explained that since the individual does not intend to color the napkin, rather, he only wishes to wipe his hands and, on the contrary, he is ruining the napkin, this is only prohibited as a result of a rabbinic enactment and not by Torah law.
Eating Color-Secreting Fruits
We must therefore ask that if there is concern for prohibition when one wipes one’s hands in a napkin while one’s hands are soiled with the color emitted by the fruit, why is it that we do not prohibit in a general manner eating these kinds of color-secreting fruits on Shabbat? Indeed, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shabbat Chapter 23, Halacha 2) states, “If one applies red color to one’s lips on Shabbat, one is liable (for Shabbat desecration).” (Nevertheless, the Rambam in Chapter 22, Halacha 23 of Hilchot Shabbat writes that this is only constitutes a rabbinic prohibition.)
If so, when one eats fruits that color one’s lips on Shabbat, one should also be considered transgressing the prohibition of dyeing on Shabbat. Why then are strawberries, pomegranates, and cherries permissible for consumption on Shabbat?
The answer is because our Sages only prohibited coloring items on Shabbat which are usually colored, such as a napkin, which is commonly dyed. However, it is unusual to color one’s hands or face and it is thus not prohibited whatsoever.
However, with regards to women who customarily color their faces with lip-stick and the like, it would seem that they should be prohibited to eat color-secreting fruits on Shabbat. Indeed, Hagaon Harav Nissim Karelitz zt”l writes in his Sefer Chut Shani (Chapter 19) that it is questionable whether or not women may eat such fruits which color their lips on Shabbat.
Nevertheless, Maran zt”l rules that it is quite simple that this is permissible since coloring with food is completely unusual, in addition to the fact that the woman only intends to eat the fruits and this coloring is being done in a roundabout manner, i.e. through eating. Thus, this is completely permissible. The Mishnah Berura (Chapter 303, Sha’ar Ha’Tziyun 65) rules likewise.
Dressing a Wound With a Garment
The question is if the same would apply to dressing a wound with a garment, gauze, or a bandage since this causes the dressing to be dyed or is this permissible?
Indeed, Rabbeinu Eliezer of Metz, who is the one who originally ruled that it is forbidden to color a napkin with one’s soiled hands, rules stringently with regards to applying a dressing to a wound. However, in this scenario, many Poskim disagree with his opinion for several reasons. Halachically speaking, it is preferable to act stringently and not place a bandage onto the [bleeding] wound; rather, one should first wash off the wound and only then place the bandage on top of it. However, in a case of need, there is room for leniency (see Livyat Chen, page 149). Liquid iodine (a colored substance) may be placed onto a wound when there is concern for infection.
Summary: One may eat fruits which color one’s lips and hands on Shabbat. It is preferable to act stringently and not place a dressing on a wound on Shabbat until one has first washed off the wound. One may place liquid iodine on a wound on Shabbat.