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 with Water from the Mediterranean Sea and Water Which has been Desalinated

Question: If one is at the beach and wishes to eat bread but has no water to wash one’s hands with, may one wash one’s hands using the water of the sea or ocean? Salty Water Answer: Regarding the laws of washing one’s hands for a bread meal, the Mishnah and Gemara teach us that......

Read Halacha

Immersing One’s Hands in Sea Water

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one is on the beach and wishes to eat bread, one may not gather some sea water in a vessel and wash one’s hands, for sea water is salty and thus invalid for Netilat Yadayim. Immersing One’s Hands in a Spring, the Sea, or a Mikveh Howe......

Read Halacha

Washing One’s Hands in the Restroom

Question: Is it permissible to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) in the restroom or shower room? Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) rules that one who exits the restroom requires Netilat Yadayim. Maran Ha’Chida writes that this is because of the evil spirit which rests......

Read Halacha

Listening to Music or Words of Torah in a Room Which Has a Bathtub or Shower in it

Question: May one recite holy words (words of Torah, prayer, or blessings) in a room with a bathtub or shower in it? Similarly, may one listen to holy songs or Torah lectures in such a room? Answer: There are two primary points which must be addressed: Firstly, whether or not one who is bathing a......

Read Halacha


The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

Food Items Touched by One Who Did Not Wash One’s Hands in the Morning

In the past, we have explained the obligation for one to wash one’s hands from a vessel every morning upon awakening from his sleep. We have also explained that when one awakens from one’s sleep in the morning, an evil spirit rests on one’s hands, for sleep is considered one-six......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha