shabbos candles

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 Learning Project

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


Questions for the Week of Parshas Bamidbar

Is one permitted to add food coloring to food on Shabbos?

One of the 39 prohibited labors on Shabbos is Tzovea or Coloring because in the process of the building of the Mishkan we find that they would dye the wool which was used for making the coverings of the Mishkan.

With regards to food however, the halacha is that 'ein tzevia b'ochlin' the actual translation of which states that coloring does not take place in edibles, which in turn means that one may blend foods and liquids even though one food item will color another.

It is therefore permitted to add ginger to food, pour raspberry syrup into water, mix red and white wine and pour tea essence [1] into hot water. [2]

Am I permitted to add food coloring solely for the sake of coloring the food?

The halacha is that even adding coloring for the sake of coloring is permitted but the Mishna Berura writes that it is better not to do so. [3] This does not mean that one may dye foods at whim. One is prohibited to dye food or liquids for marketing purposes. For example, one who sells liquor may not dye the liquor in order to make it more appealing to customers. Even though one is dying a food product and we could say that 'ein tzevia b'ochlin', it is not so, because that is only true when the sole purpose is to whet an appetite. When the purpose is other than eating it takes on the regular laws of dyeing and coloring. [4]

The Mishna Berura adds from the P’ri Megadim that one who dyes water and places it in the sun will in all likelihood have to bring a korban as atonement.

s there an issue of Coloring when wiping stained hands on a napkin on Shabbos?

This halacha might seem a bit foreign to us because we are not accustomed to dyeing clothes and fabrics. Nevertheless, since it is normal to dye fabric and cloth, coloring a napkin with one’s red hands must be avoided. [5] It appears from the Shulchan Aruch that this halacha applies to substances that are regularly used for dyeing, such as fruit extracts. However, soiling a napkin with gravy would not be a problem because one does not usually dye fabric or clothing with gravy.

Therefore, after eating raspberries, strawberries and any other colored fruit one should rinse one’s hands and lips with water before wiping them on a towel or napkin.

Is there a difference between a paper napkin and a material one?

Yes there is because a paper napkin is discarded subsequent to its use and therefore its coloring is not called dyeing. One only dies items that are intended for later use whereas paper napkins are soiled not dyed. [6]

What if I only have cloth napkins and I cannot rinse my hands or lips?

The Mishna Berura writes [7] that others disagree and say that wiping soiled hands on a napkin is not called tzovea rather it is something known as derech l'chluch – soiling - and is not subject to the restrictions of tzovea. Therefore when one is in a situation where there is no other option one may rely on this opinion and wipe one’s hands and face even on a cloth napkin.

[1] The ??? ????? 318:65 says that putting the water into the essence, i.e. the non-colored into the colored will avoid the problem of ????? ???????.

[2] Simon 320:19 and M”B 56.

[3] M”B 320:56 and SS”K 11:38.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Simon 320:20.

[6] SS”K 14:19.

[7] M”B simon 320:59.

Food For Thought

Is a woman permitted to apply makeup or remove it on Shabbos?

Is a girl permitted to eat a red ice-lolly on Shabbos when after all it paints her lips red?

Is removing a stain from one’s body a problem of erasing (mochek)?

May one use a toilet freshener that colors the water on Shabbos?

Answers coming next week.

Chag HaShavuot

The Midrash says that Hashem offered the Torah to the nations who after hearing what it entailed ‘declined’ the offer. One nation was told that the Torah prohibits stealing and another was told that it prohibits murder. The question is that all nations of the world must keep the 7 Noachide laws which include the prohibitions of stealing and murder, what difference does it make if they refused the Torah?

The answer in brief is that the 7 Noachide laws are merely a means to keep civilization in check whereas the same mitzvos given to the Jews as part of the 613 mitzvos are commandments to be considerate of the fellow person.

For example, embarrassing someone is a division of murder, as Chazal tell us that one’s blood drains from the face, similar to murder. This is only included in the 613 mitzvos and not in the Noachide laws.

Job (Iyov) had four doors to his tent enabling guests to enter without having to bother going around to another entrance, just as Avraham Avinu had constructed his tent. Nevertheless he waas told that he had only half of Avraham’s merits. That is because Avraham would search for guests whereas Job would wait for them to come.

That is the difference; Avraham looked to improve another’s welfare whereas Job did that which was necessary and not more.

We must therefore, as R’ Yona of Giorondi puts it, investigate as to where can we improve another’s welafare and not just merely wait for a needy hand to pass our doorstep.

That is the beauty of our Torah. Chag Sameach.

For a printed version, click here.


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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.