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The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudeisubscribe


Is there a problem scraping mud off one’s shoes on Shabbos?

The Shulchan Aruch mentions various problems related to scraping mud from one’s shoes on Shabbos, namely: breaking up dried mud – the prohibition of Tochen (grinding), filling in crevices in the ground – Boneh (construction), smoothing the jagged pieces of leather on one’s shoes – memachek (smoothening).

Grinding – once the mud has caked up, one is forbidden to pry it off one’s shoes in such a way that the mud would break up into small pieces. 1 Therefore, scraping it on the sidewalk would be prohibited. The only option is to continue walking, hoping that the dried mud will come off. 2

Construction – Imagine yourself walking on a dirt road, and upon noticing a crack in the ground, you scrape off the mud clinging to your shoe into the crack. You have just committed a heinous act of chillul 3 Shabbos. For this reason we find in the gemora 4 various opinions as to whether one is permitted to scrape mud on one’s shoes onto the ground or onto a wall. Their concern is lest one repairs the ground or improves the cement on the wall.

According to the halacha one may scrape shoes onto a wall. As for the ground, if it is a dirt track, there is room for stringency (Mishna Berura 28), but onto a tarred road or asphalt, since the mud does not unite with the tar, no real repairing takes place, and therefore one is permitted to scrape mud onto the pavement or sidewalk.

May one not scrape shoes with a mud-bar?

This brings us to the third problem – smoothening. Chazal taught us that by scraping shoes onto a sharp edge, one inadvertently would smoothen out jagged parts of the shoe. Contemporary poskim say that this factor does not apply to our shoes (which are manufactured with precision) and if anything, the scraping is detrimental. Therefore one may scrape shoes onto a mud-bar, and if done gently, there is no problem at all. 5

Cholent splashed onto my shirt, what am I supposed to do?

Change your shirt, there is not much you can do. It is permitted to remove whatever is sticking to the outside of the garment, but to remove the remnants of the stain that penetrate the garment is much more of a problem, as we will soon see.

It is strictly forbidden to sprinkle water, saliva or any other cleaning agent onto a stain. The maximum one may do is gently scrape the mess sticking to the shirt.

Accordingly, it is forbidden to sprinkle salt onto spilled chrain etc. even though the salt will not get rid of the stain, but since it is part of the cleaning process, it is forbidden.

Is it permitted to remove the stain with one’s fingernail?

The Taz is of the opinion that one may scrape away a stain with one’s fingernail (as long as the stain is not made of a substance that breaks up due to the prohibition of grinding 6). The Mishna Berura 7 however, strongly opposes his position, and says that it is strictly forbidden to totally scrape away a stain that has penetrated the cloth, and only dirt sitting on top of the cloth may be scraped away. Accordingly, one must refrain from cleaning any stain that has penetrated garments, tablecloths etc. As for using a non-Jew to clean the garment, a Rav should be consulted, as there is room for leniency. Water, however, may not be used under any circumstances.

[1] Simon 302:7 and M”B 36.
[2] There is another option – soaking the mud in water. This is halachikally complicated (see SS”K 15-40, footnote 137) and a Rav must be consulted.
[3] Desecration of the shabbos.
[4] Shabbos 141.
[5] M”B 26.
[6] Products made of ground substances – biscuits, bread – are not subject to this prohibition, because a ground item cannot be ground again (ein tochen achar tochen). For some reason, this rule does not apply to mud.
[7] Simon 302:36 and Bi’ur Halacha d’havi.

Food For Thought

Is one permitted to wet a clean garment?

Would it be permitted to make a compress on Shabbos?

How come I am allowed to dry my hands on a towel on Shabbos, am I not wetting the towel?

If a garment catches fire, may water be poured onto the section that has not yet caught on fire?

Answers coming next week.

Vort On The Parsha

“Al pi Hashem isu v’al pi Hashem Yachanu” (B’nei Yisrael traveled at the word of Hashem and they encamped at the word of Hashem). Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz of Mir explained that wherever B’nei Yisrael were, they felt as if they were in the bosom of Hashem. If you would ask a baby, which is carried in the arms of its mother from home to work to town, where are you? The baby would answer, “I am in my mother’s arms”. So too B’nei Yisroel, even though they traveled in the desert from place to place, they were always “in the arms of Hashem”.

We should also bring ourselves to the realization that wherever we are and whatever we do, we are in the arms of Hashem.

For a printed version, click here.

In memory of R' Shmuel Engel zt"l.

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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.