someone carelessly scraped his shoe on my Shabbos trousers, may I dust it off?
The gemora Shabbos 147a says
that one who shakes his garment on Shabbos violates a Torah transgression, and is required
to bring a sacrifice. Rashi 1 explains the gemora to be referring
to one who shakes dust off ones clothes. The Rama quotes this opinion
and is the accepted halacha.2 Therefore one may not dust jackets, hats,
and trousers, or any clothing. It is irrelevant whether one dusts his clothing with a
brush, a rag or with ones hand, the point is that one is cleaning clothes.
There are other criteria involved, see further. The Mishna Berura suggests that one
be careful, on Shabbos, not to place ones hat on a dusty surface, because it might
easily lead to the desecration of the Shabbos.
Is there a difference
whether they are Shabbos trousers or regular trousers?
The gemora continues that this
prohibition only applies to new and dark clothing, and to clothing one is meticulous
about being dirty. New is defined as a garment that still looks fresh and new, see
footnote.3 Dark is a criteria; because dust on a light colored-garment
goes unnoticed, and hence dusting it is not considered cleaning.
Clothing which one normally wears without
bothering to dust off, may be dusted on Shabbos, because it is not considered being
dirty, and hence the dusting is not called cleaning. Clothing which one would
not wear without carefully dusting it beforehand, may not be dusted and cleaned on
Shabbos, even without the aid of water.
Therefore, Shabbos trousers, suits and hats
dark clothing which usually looks new, may not be dusted on Shabbos,
because one is makpid meticulous about their appearance, and dusting them
would involve a Torah prohibition.
Even though the Mechaber did not
prohibit the dusting of clothes, nevertheless Sephardim should also refrain from dusting
clothes on Shabbos. 4
Shaking off dandruff,
We must differentiate between dirt that has
penetrated a garment, where the laws of libun (cleansing of garments), are
applicable, and dirt that sits atop the garment. Cleaning a garment applies to
cloth which has become dirty: feathers and straw may even be stuck between the threads,
but they do not dirty or soil the garment, and therefore removing feathers and
straw from a garment is not called cleaning it. One may even remove dust
sitting on top of a jacket, because in such a case the jacket is not dirty.
Therefore, a dusty sleeve or trouser leg may be lightly dusted to remove the outer
layer of dust that has not penetrated the garment, but extreme care must be taken not to
overdo it, because there is only a fine line between dust which has penetrated the garment
and the dust which has not.
Dandruff also rides ones shoulders and may
be gently patted off ones clothes.
Is one permitted to
shake out a wet raincoat or a wet sweater?
Other Rishonim 5 explain
the above-mentioned gemora as referring to clothing which is wet from dew.
The Shulchan Aruch explains that the shaking of such a garment is as effective as
laundering, and therefore one would be violating the transgression of libun. All
the same criteria apply as were mentioned with dusting, i.e. new, dark and meticulous.
Therefore, when one takes in a jacket, which was left in the open overnight and is
drenched with dew, or if after one comes in from the rain and removes his rain-drenched
suit, one must take care not to shake out the dew/rain, as it involves a Torah
 Other Rishonim explain the gemora as
referring to shaking dew off ones clothes. See further.
 MB 302:6
 MB 302:1. The Biur Halacha quotes the Chayei Adam who
says that we do not know until when a garment is considered new. The BH
concludes that therefore it is advised to brush the dust with a shinui in a
 Ohr Letsion vol.2 24-1.
 Tosefos and others.
Food For Thought
Is one really not allowed to fold
ones tallis on Shabbos?
What is all the talk
about not making beds on Shabbos?
Is there a problem
scraping mud off ones shoes on Shabbos?
Cholent splashed onto
my shirt, what am I supposed to do?
Answers coming next week.
Vort On The Parsha - Zachor
Hashem said that His Name and His Chair are not
complete until Amalek is eradicated. His Chair represents Hashems purpose in this
world, and His wish is that everyone and everything will realize His supremacy and control
over everything in this world. Amaleks presence is a contradiction to Hashems
presence, because Amalek declare that everything happens by chance, and nothing is
supervised or controlled. (Their existence, of course is also Hashems will, which is
part of the great plan).
In some of us lurks the shadow of Amalek, and until we
eradicate the doubt we have in Hashems power and intervention, His Name and Chair
will not be complete.
So when we hear on Shabbos the words: eradicate the
memory of Amalek, we should invert the cry to our inner self and push away any
heretic thoughts we might have.
We should all merit seeing the heralding of the Moshiach
speedily in our days.