permitted to wet a clean garment?
The gemora in Zevachim 94b says that soaking
a garment in water is akin to laundering, and therefore forbidden. We find a dispute
amongst the Rishonim as to whether the gemora is referring to a soiled
garment or even to a clean one.
We do not have a clear picture as to how the Mechaber
rules, because in simon 302:9 he writes that one may not soak a soiled
garment, and in simon 334:24 he writes that there is a problem to soak even a clean
cloth in water.
Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul Ztzl 1
learns that the Mechaber holds that soaking only applies to a soiled garment, but
says to be stringent and not to soak even a clean garment.
The Rama 2 brings both opinions, and the Mishna
Berura 3 says that since soaking a garment involves a Torah prohibition,
one should be stringent and not wet even a clean garment.
Therefore the halacha is that one may not wet a
clean garment with water.
Would it be permitted to make a
compress on Shabbos?
A cold compress is often used for the treatment of people
with severe headaches. It is made by soaking a towel in water, squeezing it out and
placing it on the forehead. The squeezing is definitely forbidden. The question refers to
the actual wetting of the cloth or towel. One method would be to wet ones hands and dry
them on a cloth. This is permissible, as we will soon see in the next answer.
Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul Ztzl says that for a
sick person it is permitted to soak a clean towel to make a compress. Since this involves
a serious offence a Rav should be consulted. 4 The optimal advice would be to
have a non-Jew make the compress. 5
How come I am allowed to dry my hands
on a towel on Shabbos? Am I not wetting the towel?
This is based on another concept called derch
lichluch, which means that the water is applied in a dirtying manner. When
drying hands on a towel, the towel does not become cleaner; on the contrary, it gets
dirty. So even though water is coming in contact with the towel, since it is not cleaning
the towel, it is permitted. The same rule applies to wiping up spilled water on the floor:
even though the water is being absorbed into the towel, since it is done in a
dirtying manner, it is permitted. 6
Drying wet dishes with a towel also follows this rule.
If a garment catches fire, may water be
poured onto the section that has not yet caught on fire?
Of course we are not referring to life threatening cases
where anything must be done to save lives. We are referring to a case where one has the
time and the cool to concentrate on what he is doing. The
Mechaber says that if a garment or cloth caught on fire, one is permitted to pour liquid
onto the other side of the garment, thereby causing the fire to extinguish when it reaches
All liquids, except for water and white wine, soil the
garment, and therefore may be poured onto the garment. As for water, it will depend on the
opinions mentioned above if one may pour water onto a clean garment. The Biur
Halacha 7 says that one should be stringent.
 Ohr Letzion vol.2 36-14, 43-6.
 Simon 302:10.
 Simon 320:48.
 For more reference see SSK 33-19.
 Biur Halacha simon 302:10 dlo.
 Rama 302:10.
Simon 302:9 sheyesh.
Food For Thought
May a woman apply blush or powder to
her face on Shabbos? Nail varnish to nails?
How come it is permitted to eat red
ice-lollies on shabbos, does it not paint the lips red?
If a girls platts came
undone on shabbos, may they be platted again?
Why such a restriction on combing hair
on Shabbos? What about honoring the Shabbos?
Answers coming next week.
Vort On The Parsha
The possuk says: Adam (a person)
who brings a sacrifice, Rashi says that just as Adam did not bring a
sacrifice bought with stolen money, so too when we bring a sacrifice it must be a
Rav Sternbuch Shlita explains that just as Adam
was as far from stolen property as could be, because everything was his. So too when we
bring a sacrifice, it must be in such a way that the sacrifice is not tainted in even the
smallest way with something not honest.