Halacha for Wednesday 22 Tevet 5781 January 6 2021

Cleaning the Dust Off of a Garment on Shabbat

Question: May one clean a garment which became dirty with dust or brush a felt hat on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 147a) states that one who shakes out a Tallit on Shabbat is liable a Chatat offering. This means that if one shakes out one’s garment on Shabbat in order to get out any dirt there may be on it, one is liable to bring a Chatat offering, for the shaking out of the garment is considered its laundering and laundering is a forbidden work on Shabbat.

The Rishonim nevertheless disagree about the interpretation of the above Gemara. According to Rashi, one who shakes out a garment to get out the dirt on it transgresses the prohibition of laundering on Shabbat. Thus, according to Rashi, it is forbidden to shake out a black garment which was soiled with dirt or dust because of the prohibition of laundering on Shabbat. The Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Vaychi) rules accordingly. This ruling is based on the words of the Rama (in his notation on Chapter 302) that it is preferable to be concerned with Rashi’s opinion.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that most Rishonim do not explain the above Gemara like Rashi does. Rather, they explain that “shaking out a Tallit” refers to when the Tallit or other garment becomes soiled from rain water that fell on them and the like in which case shaking out the garment will constitute the forbidden work of laundering on Shabbat. However, regarding anything which is completely dry, such as dust, there is absolutely no prohibition to shake out the garment. Indeed, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules likewise based on the words of Rabbeinu Chananel and several other great Rishonim who rule leniently even with regards to a new, black garment.

Thus, one may shake the dust out of a garment on Shabbat and this does not constitute the prohibition of laundering on Shabbat according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch.

Although we cannot delve into all the fine details regarding this matter, we should nevertheless point out that even according to the opinion which prohibits this, the prohibition will only apply to a new, black garment which people are usually meticulous not to wear when it is dusty. However, if people do not care to wear it in this manner, there is no prohibition to shake out such a garment according to all opinions.

Regarding cleaning a garment or hat using a brush designated for this purpose, Hagaon Tiferet Yisrael writes that it is customary to act stringently regarding this manner because it is an action that appears to be done on weekdays. On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l once again writes that according to the letter of the law, there is room for leniency in this regard for our Sages only forbade actions usually performed only on weekdays when it is a matter that can eventually evolve into a Torah prohibition. However, cleaning a garment with a brush does not fall into this category.  (Halichot Olam, ibid.)

Summary: According to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, it is permissible to shake out or clean with a brush any garment which became soiled by dust and the like on Shabbat.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Washing One’s Hands in the Morning

When one awakens in the morning from one’s sleep, one must wash one’s hands and recite the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Netilat Yadayim” (this law is discussed in Berachot 60b). The order of this washing i......

Read Halacha

Question: If one wakes up in the middle of the night and would like to drink a glass of water, must one first wash one’s hands before reciting the blessing on the water?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the general obligation of washing one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) and we briefly discussed the reasons for this Mitzvah. Two of these reasons are: Firstly, the reason quoted by the holy Zohar which states that when one goes to sleep, one’s ......

Read Halacha

The Torah is in the Hands of the Jewish Nation

Our Sages teach us in the Gemara (Berachot 5a) that Hashem does not conduct himself like human beings, for when a human being sells an object to another, the seller is upset about the loss of the object he was forced to sell and the buyer is happy about the acquisition of his new purchase. On the ot......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha


Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b)......

Read Halacha

Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha