Halacha for Monday 14 Sivan 5782 June 13 2022

Washing the Floors of the House on Shabbat

Question: May the floors of the house be washed with water on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 95b) explains that our Sages forbade washing the floors of the house on Shabbat because in their times, the floors of the house were not surfaced as they are today; rather, they covered the floor of the house with sand or earth. For this reason, our Sages even forbade sweeping the floor on Shabbat so that one does not flatten the floor of the house, which is forbidden on Shabbat, as a result.

Nevertheless, the Gemara and Poskim write that when the floor of the house is surfaced, one may sweep the floor on Shabbat. Our Sages ruled leniently on this matter even when most houses in the city have unfinished floors as long as that specific house has finished floors since this is truly necessary. However, our Sages never permitted washing the floors even when the house has surfaced floors.

Nonetheless, when most houses in the city have finished floors, our Sages allowed even sprinkling some water on the floor. This is indeed the opinion of the Rambam (Chapter 1 of Hilchot Shabbat). On the other hand, some other great Rishonim rule completely leniently in this regard and allow even washing all the floors of the house with a large amount of water, as long as most houses in the city have surfaced floors.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 337) quotes the words of the Rambam. Thus, Hagaon Rabbeinu Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l rules (in his Or Le’Zion, Volume 2, page 275) that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, one may not wash the entire house on Shabbat. However, he writes that if the floors of the house become especially soiled on Shabbat, there is room to allow washing it with water on Shabbat since this is necessary, just as our Sages allowed sweeping the floors on Shabbat.

We have heard from the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, that when he was growing up, he remembers that in Maran zt”l’s home, when they had many guests on Shabbat and the floor would become especially dirty, Maran zt”l allowed the Rabbanit to mop the floor with water and a “sponga” (squeegee) stick (as opposed to with a mop or anything else that is absorbent and squeezable).

Thus, halachically speaking, the floors of the house should not be washed on Shabbat. However, if the floor becomes especially dirty locally, such as if juice or gravy spilled in a specific location, it is then permissible to pour water there and wipe it away in a way that will not cause any concerns of squeezing on Shabbat, such as with a squeegee stick which is made completely of rubber.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Proper Way to Immerse Vessels in a Mikveh

One must make certain that there is nothing separating between the vessel one is immersing and the waters of the Mikveh. Thus, when one is immersing a vessel, one must hold the vessel loosely, for if one holds it tight, one’s hand will be separating between the vessel and the waters of the Mik......

Read Halacha

Question: Is one obligated to wait six hours after eating meat foods before eating dairy foods?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (105a) states: “Mor Ukva said: When my father would eat meat, he would not eat cheese until the next day. Regarding myself, however, within the same meal I do not eat meat and then cheese, but I would eat cheese during the next meal.” The Rif writes......

Read Halacha

Reading Scripture at Night

Question: May one read chapters of Tanach or Tehillim at night or is this forbidden according to Kabbalah? Is there room for leniency when this reading is being done for the sake of an ill individual or a woman in labor? Answer: Maran Ha’Chida in his Responsa Yosef Ometz (Chapter 54) quotes......

Read Halacha

Spiritual Blockage of the Heart

Question: Must one be careful regarding the Kashrut standards of the foods one’s children eat as well? Answer: Regarding any food which is prohibited for consumption by the Torah, such as milk and meat or an impure animal’s milk, it is certainly forbidden to give such foods to childre......

Read Halacha

Eating Dairy Items after Eating Poultry

In the previous Halacha we have discussed in general the law that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating dairy foods either because the nature of meat is to get stuck between one’s teeth or because meat gives off a taste in one’s mouth for a prolonged amount of time. ......

Read Halacha

Drinking Beverages in a Café or in a Home Where the Vessels have not been Immersed in a Mikveh

Question: May one drink coffee in a friend’s home or in a Café (such as an espresso without milk served in Cafes) when they are not meticulous about immersing their vessels in a Mikveh? Answer: In the Halachot discussed before Tisha Be’av, we have explained that vessels produc......

Read Halacha

Question: Do disposable vessels and electric kettles require immersion in a Mikveh?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the general law that any new vessels purchased from a non-Jew must be immersed in a Mikveh before using them. We shall now discuss whether or not disposable vessels require immersion. We have already explained that according to Maran zt”l,......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha