Sweeping

Sweeping on Shabbos:

Using brooms made of hard strands:[1] It is forbidden to sweep on Shabbos using a broom made of hard strands which can break upon being used.[2] This applies to all types of floors, even tiled floors.[3] [Thus one may not use a straw broom to sweep with on Shabbos.[4]] Furthermore, if the material of the broom is hard, then even if it does not break while sweeping with it, it is forbidden to be used on even tiled or wooden floors, due to a decree that one may come to sweep on an earth floor.[5] [If however majority of the city houses have tiled floors, it is permitted to sweep with hard, unbreakable, material brooms on tiled or wooden floors. It however remains prohibited to sweep with such material on an earth floor, or to sweep with breakable material on even a tiled floor.[6] Thus one may sweep his tiled floor using brooms which are made up of woven hairs, whether the hairs are synthetic or real.[7] However some Poskim[8] rule one is to only rely on this leniency if he had previously swept his floor on Erev Shabbos.]

Using brooms made of soft materials:[9] It is permitted to sweep one’s floor using a broom made of soft material, such as cloth, rag, or duck feather.[10] This allowance applies both to tiled and earth floors.[11]

Asking a gentile to sweep one’s floor:[12] It is permitted to ask a gentile to sweep one’s floor using any type of broom. This allowance applies even to sweeping an earth floor using a broom of hard breakable strands.[13]

May one sweep away Muktzah items?[14]  In cases that one is permitted to sweep [as explained above depending on the type of broom] it is permitted to also sweep filth that is Muktzah such as earth clumps, almond peels and other filthy items which are Muktzah.[15] It is however forbidden to use a broom to move Muktzah items that have a use, and are not viewed as filth or garbage.[16]

 

Summary-Sweeping on Shabbos with a broom:

Brooms made of hard materials: If the strands of the broom are easily breakable within the process of sweeping, it is forbidden to be used on any type of floor. If made of hard strands that are not easily breakable in the process of sweeping, it is permitted to be used to sweep tiled or wooden floors, however not earth floors. [Thus one may sweep his tiled floor using brooms which are made up of woven hairs, whether the hairs are synthetic or real[17].]

If majority of the houses of one’s city have earth floors, then it is forbidden to sweep using such brooms even on tiled floors.

Brooms made of soft materials: Are permitted to be used on both tiled and earth[18] floors. Soft material brooms are brooms made of cloth, feathers and the like.

 

Q&A

May one sweep a carpet?

One may do so using a regular broom.[19] One may not use a specially manufactured carpet broom.[20]

 

List of brooms and their law:

  • Straw broom: Forbidden[21]
  • Broom with synthetic hairs: Permitted on tiled floors[22]in cities that majority of floors are tiled.[23]

 

May one screw in the rod of a broom into a broom?[24]

No. It is forbidden to insert a broom onto a broomstick even if it does not involve using any screws. It is likewise forbidden to tighten the attachment while it is already attached.

 

Is a broom Muktzah?[25]

Those brooms which are permitted to be used on Shabbos to sweep with, as explained above, are not Muktzah.  Those brooms which are forbidden to be used as explained above are considered MM”I.

Practically:[26] A broom made of hard material [which can break such as a straw broom[27]] is MM”I. A broom made of soft material [or hard material that cannot break[28] such as synthetic hair[29]] is not Muktzah.[30]

 

May one brush his clothing using a brush or broom?[31]

It is forbidden to brush ones clothes using a brush which its strands will inevitably break in the process of the brushing.[32]  [Furthermore, even if the brush is made of hairs and it will not break in the process, the custom is to forbidden using it on clothing being it appears like fixing a vessel and is considered a mundane act.[33]]

Q&A

May one clean furniture?[34]

It is forbidden to clean furniture using a brush or cloth that has been manufactured specifically for this purpose.[35] One may however brush off dust and the like using a broom or standard brush.[36]

Shaking the dust off: One may slightly shake dust off old furniture, however not from new dark furniture. He however may not shake heavily even old furniture.[37] 

 


[1] 337/2-3

[2] This is forbidden for two reasons:

  1. When using a hard broom on an earth floor, according to some opinions, it is inevitable for the broom not to smoothen the gaps of the floor which is forbidden due to the building prohibition. According to some opinions this prohibition applies equally to a tiled floor as we decree against tiled floors due to that one may come to sweep on earth floors, as is the final ruling of Admur. However there are opinions which rule that by tiled floors the Sages permitted to sweep, as although this can lead one to sweep on an earth floor, since sweeping is a Shabbos necessity, therefore the Sages did not decree against doing so on tiled floors. Furthermore some opinions rule even on earth floors it is permitted to sweep, as they do not hold that the smoothening of the gaps is inevitable. Practically the custom is to be stringent that even by tiled floors it is forbidden to use a hard material broom. One may not divert from this custom. [337/2] Nevertheless in a city that majority of the houses have tiled floors [as is the case in all Western countries], it remains permitted to sweep on tiled floors even using hard material so long as the material does not break. If however the material does break then it is forbidden due to the reason explained next. [Ketzos Hashulchan 146/27]
  2. When using brooms made of reeds and other breakable materials, it is inevitable that the reeds will not break in the process, and hence sweeping with them is forbidden due to the prohibition of destroying a vessel. Now although one who destroys is exempt [from Biblical liability], it is nevertheless Rabbinically forbidden. [ibid]

[3] When using a hard material that is also easily breakable it is forbidden to be used on even tiled floors according to all opinions. Meaning that even according to those which normally allow sweeping on tiled floors they only allow doing so by brooms made of palm which does not break. [ibid] 

[4] SSH”K 23/1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 337/4 in name many Poskim, Upashut!

[5] 337/2; See previous footnotes in the first reason behind the prohibition

[6] Ketzos Hashulchan 146/27 in name of M”B and Iglei Tal. Biur Halacha “Veyeish Machmirim”

[7] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[8] SSH”K 23/1 in name of Biur Halacha 327 “Veyeish”; This opinion is not made mention of in the Ketzos Hashulchan.

[9] 337/2

[10] As such materials are light and will not smooth the gaps of a floor. [ibid]

[11] As such materials are light and will not come to smooth the gaps of an earth floor. So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 146/27 and so is implied from Admur and M”B [337/11].

Other Opinions: However the SSH”K 23/1 rules that it is only allowed on tiled floors.

[12] 337/2

[13] As any [action forbidden due to an] inevitable occurrence is permitted to be done through a gentile. [ibid]

[14] 337/2

[15] It is permitted to sweep them being that they are to the person like a pile of filth, which the Sages permitted one to remove to the garbage, due to ones dignity. [ibid]

[16] So is implied from Admur here which depends the allowance on the Muktzah being a Graf Shel Reiy. See also 308/60, and Chapter 259 Halacha 4 and Kuntrus Achron 3. See Volume 1 “The Laws of Muktzah” Chapter 1 Halacha 3C!

[17] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[18] As such materials are light and will not come to smooth the gaps of an earth floor. So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 146/27 and so is implied from Admur and M”B [337/11].

Other Opinions: However the SSH”K 23/1 rules that it is only allowed on tiled floors.

[19] Minchas Yitzchak 5/39

[20] Minchas Yitzchak ibid; Beir Moshe 1/32;

It is forbidden due to it being a mundane act and a belittling of Shabbos, as well as it having a suspicion of the whitening prohibition. [ibid]

[21] SSH”K 23/1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 337/4 in name many Poskim, Upashut!

[22] Piskeiy Teshuvos 337/4 in name many Poskim, Upashut!

[23] As seemingly the hairs of such brooms are considered hard material, and hence would only be allowed a) on tiled floors and b) only if majority of the cities floors are tiled.]

[24] SSH”K 23/1

[25] 308/87

[26] According to all brooms made of inevitably breakable material are MM”I as they are forbidden to be used.

Regarding brooms made of materials which will not inevitably break:

According to those which permit sweeping tiled floors with such brooms, they are not Muktzah as they are like a vessel which is designated for a permitted use. Now, although that during the week one uses them to sweep also [dirt] floors that are not tiled [and thus since on Shabbos it is not fit for this it should have the status of a vessel designated for prohibited use], nevertheless it is [still] like a vessel that is designated for a permitted and forbidden use, of which the law is that one is permitted to move just like a vessel that is [only] designated for a permitted use.

However according to those which forbid to sweep on Shabbos even floors that are tiled, then it is forbidden to move them unless one is doing so in order to use it [for a permitted use] or in order to use its space, just like [is the law by any] vessel that is designated [for only] forbidden use.

The final ruling: We are accustomed to be stringent, although by cities that majority of the houses have tiled floors we are lenient.

Regarding brooms made of soft materials, such as a cloth:

Are not Muktzah according to all

[27] SSH”K 23/1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 337/4 in name many Poskim, Upashut!

[28] As today we allow sweeping tiled floors being that majority of the houses are tiled. [Ketzos Hashulchan 146/27 in name of M”B and Iglei Tal. Biur Halacha “Veyeish Machmirim”]

[29] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[30] 308/87; 337/3-4

[31] 337/3

[32] When using brooms made of reeds and other breakable materials, it is inevitable that the reeds will not break in the process, and hence sweeping with them is forbidden due to the prohibition of destroying a vessel. Now although one who destroys is exempt [from Biblical liability], it is nevertheless Rabbinically forbidden. [ibid]

[33] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 62 in name of Kalkeles Shabbos

[34] SSH”K 23/4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 338/2

[35] Due to it being a mundane act and possibly carrying with it the whitening prohibition. [ibid]

[36] So rules the Minchas Yitzchak 5/39 regarding carpets and seemingly the same applies by furniture. Now although above we brought from the Ketzos Hashulchan that one may not use even a standard brush for clothing due to it being a mundane act, nevertheless this is only because by clothing it appears like one is fixing the clothing, which is Tikkun Keli. However by furniture, it is similar to a floor of which all agree that soft brushes may be used. [SSH”K 23 footnote 18]

[37] Based on 302/1 regarding shaking water off new clothing. [SSH”K ibid]

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?