Halacha for Tuesday 28 Tevet 5781 January 12 2021

Washing Dishes On Shabbat When Other Dishes Are Available

Question: May one wash dishes which are necessary for use on Shabbat even if one has other dishes to be used for the remaining Shabbat meals?

Answer: Nowadays, most people own enough dishes to use for at least two meals, if not more. Based on this the above question arises: Will it be permissible to wash the dishes that were used during the Shabbat night meal for use during the Shabbat day meal in this scenario as well or should one not act leniently since one can take out other clean dishes form the china closet?

This is indeed subject to a disagreement among the Poskim. The Sefer Ohel Mo’ed (page 35a) seems to rule that if one has other dishes, one may not wash the soiled ones, for this no longer constitutes a necessity for Shabbat. On the other hand, it is written in the Sefer Minhagei Ha’Maharash (end of Chapter 394) that one may wash even twenty bowls on Shabbat even if one only needs one of them.

Halachically speaking, those who act leniently in this regard have on whom to rely. Indeed, the prevalent custom seems to be to wash the dirty dishes even if one owns other dishes since one’s intention is to use the dishes currently being washed and not to use the other dishes in the china closet at the moment. Hagaon Harav Shmuel Ha’Levi Wosner zt”l (in his Responsa Shevet Ha’Levi, Volume 5, Chapter 39) and Hagaon Harav Menashe Klein zt”l (in his Responsa Mishneh Halachot, Volume 3, Chapter 41) attest to the validity of this custom.

Indeed, when one has an actual necessity for one of the dishes and together with it, one washes the other dishes, there is certainly even greater room for leniency, for some say that even according to the opinion of the Ohel Mo’ed, as long as one is permitted to wash some of the dishes, one will likewise be permitted to wash the remaining dishes for Shabbat use.

Summary: Those who act leniently and wash soiled dishes for use during another Shabbat meal although they own other clean dishes have on whom to rely. This is indeed the prevalent custom.

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