shabbos candles

Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


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



Questions for the Week of Parshas Vayigash


Is one permitted to wet a clean garment? 

The gemora in Zevachim 94b says that soaking a garment in water is akin to laundering and 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. According to one opinion the gemora is referring to a soiled garment, because what can be the issur to wet a clean garment. The other opinion holds that there is always room for improvement and wetting a clean garment improves it. [1]

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 [2] ztz”l 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 [3] cites both opinions, and the Mishna Berura [4] 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. 

Is one permitted to make a compress on Shabbos?


A cold compress is often used for treating severe headaches. It is normally prepared by soaking a towel in water, squeezing it out and placing it on the forehead. The squeezing is definitely forbidden. [5] The question refers to the actual wetting of the cloth or towel. One is permitted to wet one's hands and wipe them onto a towel, as we will soon see.

For Sephardim: Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul Ztz”l 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. [6] The optimal advice would be to have a non-Jew to make the compress. [7]


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


This 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.[8]

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 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 [9] 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 the liquid.

All liquids, except for water and white wine soil the garment, and 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 Bi’ur Halacha [10] says that one should be stringent.


[1] Rishonim – In A Dirtying Manner

Tosefos Beitza 18b – ma’aremes. Tosefos Shabbos 111b – Hai (in the name of Sefer Hayashar). The Tur – drying hands on a towel. The Rosh, Yumah chapter8-4. Tosefos Shabbos 120a – nosein mayim (in the name of Rashbam). The Tur simon 344 – water is forbidden. The Tur simon 319 – filtering water through cloth.

Rishonim – When It Is Clean

Tosefos Shabbos 111b – the first answer. Tosefos Shabbos 120a – what I have explained. Rosh ibid – the first answer. S’mag, S’mak. T’ruma – 144.

[2] Ohr Letzion vol.2 36-14, 43-6.

[3] Simon 302:10.

[4] Simon 320:48.

[5] An issur d'rabanan of Dash, even though one does not require the water.

[6] For more reference see SS”K 33-19.

[7] Bi’ur Halacha simon 302:10 d’lo.

[8] Rama 302:10.

[9] Simon 334:24.

[10] Simon 302:9 sheyesh.


Kabolas Shabbos

The Rambam writes that on Erev Shabbos one should dress and sit with koved rosh and wait for Shabbos like one would sit and expect the king. The previous Chachomim would gather their talmidim and say to them, let’s wait for the Shabbos like one waits for the king.

Shabbos is called the kallah, based on the Midrash that Shabbos cried to Hashem that she does not have a partner, unlike the other days that do have a partner. So Hashem said that K’nesses Yisroel will be your partner.

If so, we are the Chosson and Shabbos is the kallah, and if on Shabbos we are married – the nisu’in, erev Shabbos is the chasunah!! 

The Noam Elimelech writes that if not for the sweetness of Shabbos he would not be able to contain the sweetness of Erev Shabbos.

The reason for this is that Erev Shabbos contains the longing – the hishtokekus – towards the chasuna.

Many have the minhag to read Shir Hashirim on erev Shabbos, which depicts the hishtokekus of Hashem towards Am Yisroel and Am Yisroel’s hishtokekus towards Hashem Yisborach. We know that “longing” and desire for something is often greater than the desired item and one should develop a desire towards the chasuna with Hashem.

We welcome p’nei Shabbos with Kabolas Shabbos, unlike any other mitzvah. We don’t have kabolas matzos or kabolas Yom Tov, because the kallah includes Hashem’s shechina, so it’s more than just a mitzvah, we welcome Hashem Yisborach Himself.

We say that one should check one’s clothing (b’gadav) before Shabbos to make sure that we don’t carry without an eiruv. The word b’gadav can be used as bogdav, one’s rebellion against the kallah. We separated after Shabbos to reunite again the next Shabbos and in between we were unfaithful towards Hashem by not keeping His mitzvos. We must "check" our spiritual clothes as well before we reunite with the kallah.

However much you invest in your chassunah with Shabbos – Hashem, that is how strong and united your bond with Hashem will be.

As the Kotzker said, Hashem is in your life to the extent that you let Him in.


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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.