Halacha for Monday 14 Iyar 5781 April 26 2021

Removing a Thread from a Garment and Unclogging a Drain on Shabbat

Question: I was wearing a new suit on Shabbat and I noticed a random thread hanging from it. Is it permissible to remove this thread on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 75b) states that one who removes the heads of threads hanging from a new garment on Shabbat is liable for the biblical forbidden work of “the final hammer’s blow,” i.e. putting the finishing touches on a vessel or garment. Thus, since tailors and clothing manufacturers usually remove such hanging threads from the garment after it is sewn and they had probably just forgotten to do so, it would therefore be forbidden for anyone to do so.

It would therefore be forbidden to remove this thread on Shabbat. Only if this was done unintentionally while merely handling the garment would this not have constituted a Torah prohibition.

An Additional Question: May one unclog a sink on Shabbat?

Answer: The Acharonim discuss the matter of whether or not it is permissible to unclog a sink or toilet using a plunger on Shabbat lengthily. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l rules leniently on this matter, however, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules stringently (and he repeated this discussion in his Chazon Ovadia- Shabbat, Volume 5, page 331) and writes that this constitutes a Torah prohibition of repairing a vessel on Shabbat. He proceeds to support this with many proofs.

Hagaon Harav Menashe Klein zt”l writes in his Responsa Mishneh Halachot that when he visited Israel, he visited the home of Hagaon Harav Auerbach and discussed this matter with him. Harav Auerbach told him that he ruled leniently on this matter but that his dear friend, Harav Ovadia Yosef, ruled that this constitutes an actual Torah prohibition, and thus, even Harav Auerbach zt”l was concerned about a possible prohibition in this regard.

Nevertheless, Maran zt”l writes that if the drain is not completely clogged and the water is going down, albeit very slowly, in this case, it will be permissible to unclog the sink in a regular, unprofessional manner on Shabbat (such as by using a plunger).

Summary: It is forbidden to remove an extra hanging thread from a new garment on Shabbat. It is forbidden to unclog a clogged drain on Shabbat. (In cases of great need, one may instruct a non-Jew to unclog such a drain or toilet 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

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

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

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