General Summary-The Smearing prohibition

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General Summary-The Smearing prohibition:[1]

It is a Biblical prohibition to smear and consequently smoothen wax and material of the like. It is thus forbidden to cover a hole with wax or even congealed oil and fat due to a Rabbinical decree.

Food:[2] Food does not contain a smoothening prohibition, unless it is impossible to eat without doing so in which case it is Rabbinically forbidden. However, one who is stringent by foods which are commonly smoothened is blessed. This does not apply to spreading spreads on bread.



May one squeeze cream out of a tube on Shabbos?

Yes. The squeezing, and consequent smoothening of the tube does not consist of Mimachek as the prohibition only applies when one smoothens one item onto another item, or one removes items from on top of the items in order to smooth it, or one smoothens an item into itself with intent to beautify it. However, if indeed one intends to smoothen then tube in order to beautify it then perhaps it would be forbidden.


Does washing one’s hands with a bar of soap contain the smoothening prohibition [Mimacheik]?[3]

Regarding the smoothening prohibition some Poskim[4] rule by soft soap it applies and thus would be forbidden to use according to all opinions. Others[5] hold that it only applies if there is a visible amount of soap left one one’s body. If, however, the soap is absorbed into one’s skin then the smoothening prohibition does not apply. The Ketzos Hashulchan[6] however, as well as other Poskim[7] argue that there is no smoothening prohibition applicable in such a case for variety of reasons [see footnote[8]]. In any event the custom is not to wash at all with a bar of soap being we are stringent like the opinion which holds that doing so involves a Nolad prohibition.

May one smear a cream onto one’s skin[9]?[10]

This may only be done to a child [not older than age 9[11]] or to one who is bedridden or ill[12], and only if it is a type of cream which needs to be rubbed completely into the skin and it is not meant to leave any visible cream on the skin.[13] If the cream is common to be left visibly on the skin then it is forbidden to be smeared. [However, see Beir Moshe[14] which rules that one should not smear the cream even in a case that it is meant to be absorbed into the skin and rather is only to be dabbed.]

May one smear oil or gel on the skin on Shabbos for purposes of lubrication?[15]

Oil:[16] It is permitted to smear oil on one’s skin on Shabbos. Thus, one may use oil, such as baby oil as a lubricant, without restriction. [Unlike a common misconception, there indeed is no smearing prohibition at all involved in rubbing liquid oil on one’s body, as this prohibition is limited only to thick substances that need to be evened when on top of a surface, such as melted wax, lard, and various creams.]

Gel: It is Rabbinically forbidden to smear gels or creams on the skin on Shabbos due to the smearing prohibition.[17] Thus, one may not use a lubricant gel on Shabbos. One is not to even dab it onto the skin, even if he does not plan on smearing it with his hands.[18] [In the event that one does not have any oil available, and is in need for lubricant to facilitate intimacy, then one may simply water down the gel inside of a cup of water, and then spread the watered-down substance on the skin.[19]]

May one dab a cream on one’s body without smearing it?[20]

See compilation at the end of this chapter!

When done for medical treatment [such as treating dryness] then when using a medical cream[21] this may only be done to a child [not older than age 9[22]] or to one who is bedridden or ill. Thus, Vaseline may not be dabbed on dry lips.

May one apply Vaseline to dry lips on Shabbos?

Vaseline may not be applied onto dry lips even if one will merely dab it on as opposed to smearing it, due to the healing prohibition. However, some Poskim[23] rule that it may be dabbed on fresh skin or lips for mere pleasure. It may not be smeared due to a possible smearing prohibition.[24] See compilation at the end of this chapter!


May one brush his teeth on Shabbos?[25]

One may place a creamy toothpaste on his hand and then smear it on his teeth[26], although it is forbidden to place it directly on a toothbrush and then smear it, as doing so is a mundane act. However, the custom is not to brush at all one’s teeth on Shabbos.

May one remove wax blotches [as well as other forms of blotches] from letters of a Sefer Torah and does it invalidate the Torah?

  • First Opinion:[27]

If there is wax [or other blotch] on a letter and the letter is not recognizable due to this then the sefer is invalid and another Sefer Torah must be taken out.[28] However if the wax is dry enough that folding the parchment between the wax will cause the wax to flick off, then this may be done, and one may continue reading from it.[29] One may not remove the wax with his hands due to the Mimacheik/smoothening prohibition.[30]

  • Second Opinion:[31]

One should not remove the wax in any case and should rather read that letter orally and continue with the reading.

May one remove glue from one’s skin on Shabbos?[32]

Yes.[33] However there are those which are stringent in this just as they are in regard to removing ink blotches.

May one enter ear plugs into his ears on Shabbos?[34]

Yes. There is no resemblance of a prohibition in doing so.[36]

Some opinions[38] forbid doing so due to the smearing prohibition as well as a possible fixing a vessel prohibition, being that he has to form the wax around his ear and in the hole for it to properly close out the noise. Others[39] permit doing so if it was prepared before Shabbos for the measurement of one’s ear hole, as in such a case there is very minute smearing that must be done, and such a minute amount is insignificant.

May one play with play dough and the like on Shabbos?[40]

No. It is forbidden even for children to play with play dough and the like due to the smearing prohibition. It is thus Muktzah.


[1] Admur 314:21

[2] Rama 321:19

[3] Based on mainly Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 32

[4] M”B in name of Tiferes Yisrael, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 127 footnote 13. Vetzaruch Iyun from his later ruling brought in footnote below. One must say that he retracted his ruling. See as well Daas Torah brought next.

[5] Daas Torah 326:26 brought in Minchas Yitzchak 7:20

[6] 146 footnote 32

[7] SSH”K 14 footnote 49, in name of RSZ”A and others.

[8] A) It’s a Melacha which is not needed for itself [Eino Tzarich Legufa] being that the source of the Memacheik prohibition is by smoothening the skin of an animal which benefits the skin. This is opposed to here where the smoothening of the soap does not benefit the soap but rather is done for the person to use the dissolved layer. B) Since the inevitable smoothening of the soap serves no benefit, as it makes no difference to oneself whether it is smooth or not, it is therefore allowed to be done even Rabbinically, as by Mimacheik if one has no intent to benefit the item from the smoothening than it is not considered a Melacha at all, similar to the ruling regarding pouring cold water into a plastic cup [brought in “The Laws of Cooking Halacha 1 Q&A there!] C) It is done in a way of its normal use, and just like we say regarding food prohibitions that when done in its way of eating it is allowed, the same applies by soap when used in the midst of bathing.

Vetzaruch Iyun based on this why we needed the Magen Avrahams explanation for why smearing saliva is permitted, as reasons a/b as well apply by saliva and thus it should be permitted without needing the Magen Avrahams explanation.

[9] Doing so may involve a smearing prohibition, as well as a taking medicine prohibition. Due to the medicine prohibition, it may never be done to one who is not defined as bed ridden or weak in his entire body.

[10] Minchas Yitzchak 7:20; Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:18; Vetzaruch Iyun from Piskeiy Teshuvos 327:1 which contradicts this ruling here and rules that it is always forbidden.

[11] Regarding all the opinions in the age of the child-See “The Laws of taking Medicine” Chapter 2 Halacha 6

[12] This applies even if the cream is not a medical lotion and thus does not contain any healing prohibition when placed, as there are opinions which hold that the smoothening prohibition applies even in a case that the cream is completely absorbed, and it is only in a case of an ill person that the Daas Torah said one may be lenient like the Magen Avraham [see Minchas Yitzchak 7:20]. [Seemingly however according to the Magen Avraham and those Poskim which rule likewise, such as the Mishneh Berurah, one may absorb non medical cream onto a healthy person.]

[13] As in such a case there is no smoothening prohibition, as is proven from the fact that no smoothening prohibition was mentioned regarding soap, or by saliva, as explains the Magen Avraham ibid. [Daas Torah brought in Minchas Yitzchak ibid]. However see above that some Poskim hold that there is no smoothening prohibition at all by soap and that is the reason that no prohibition was mentioned. [However according to Ketzos Hashulchan ibid which argues that there is no smoothening prohibition by soap, seemingly here too it would be allowed even if the cream is visible, if one is bedridden or for a child, while by a cream placed for pleasure it would allowed in all cases.]

[14] 1:36-4 and 2:29-3

[15] See Sheyikadesh Atzmo 12:9

[16] Admur 327:1-2; Michaber 327:1-2; 328:22; Mishneh Shabbos 111a and 134b and 147a

[17] Admur 314:21 regarding thick fat and the same applies to a gel;

Regarding a cream or gel that is meant to be completed absorbed within the skin, some Poskim are lenient: See Minchas Yitzchak 7:20 in name of Daas Torah; Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:18. This allowance, however, would not apply in this case of lubrication for purposes of intimacy, in which one desires it to not become absorbed in the skin.

[18] Admur ibid regarding wax that may not even dab in the opening of the hole and the implication is that the same applies to thick oil or fat, that it too may not be even placed on, thus implying that one may never dab a gel due to that on e may come to smear it [However, Tzaruch Iyun from Admur 328:27 who omits this prohibition, and thus perhaps one can conclude according to Admur that in general dabbing the gel is permitted, and it is only in the specific case where wax is commonly used that we prohibit even gel. Nonetheless, in this case it should be forbidden evena ccoridng to Admur, as he ends up smearing the gel with his body, as explained below]; Implication of Michaber 314:11; Rosh Shabbos 33 and M”B 252:38 [forbids placing thick Kilor on eye because may come to smear]; M”B 314:46; Hilchos Shabbos Beshabbos 3:169; Avnei Yashpei 2:32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:11; Shevet Halevi 4:33 in his conclusion is only lenient in time of need;

The reason: As if one dabs it he may come to smear it as he usually does. [Admur ibid regarding wax; M”B ibid and ibid] Furthermore, the intercourse causes the gel to become smeared, and one intends for this to happen in order to benefit from the lubricant.

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one may dab gel on the skin on Shabbos without smearing it. [Implication of Admur 328:27 who omits reason of Rosh and M”B ibid that one may come to smear; Chazon Ish O.C. 52:16; Shevet Halevi 4:33 in his initial ruling permits dabbing using tube as it’s a Shinuiy, and concludes that for the sake of healing Choleh Sheiyn Bo Sakana one may be lenient and also in a time of great need; SSH”K 33:14; Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:20; Beir Moshe 1:36-4; 2:59; 3:155 ] However, seemingly in this case one should be stringent according to all, as one intends for the dabbed product to be smeared when he penetrates her, and hence smearing will intentionally occur one way or the other.

[19] Or Letziyon 2:36-6

[20] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:20 in name of Chazon Ish, SSH”K 33:14; Beir Moshe 1:36-4

[21] As opposed to a cream which is commonly used for pleasure, such as body lotion, in which case since its medical treatment is not recognizable it may be dabbed even if it contains healing powers. [See “The Laws of medicine” chapter 2 Halacha 7]

[22] Regarding all the opinions in the age of the child-See “The Laws of taking Medicine” Chapter 2 Halacha 6

[23] Beir Moshe 1:36-4; 2:29-3

[24] See Beir Moshe [1:36-4] where he discusses reasons for why it should be permitted to smear vaseline being that it is too soft of an item to contain the smearing prohibition as well as that its main intent is to be absorbed within the skin. However in his conclusion he rules not to be lenient to smear it and rather may only dab it. See also Beir Moshe 2:29-3. Vetzaruch Iyun from Ketzos Hashulchan ibid regarding if this really contains smearing.

[25] Ketzos Hashulchan 138 footnote 31; See Piskeiy Teshuvah 326/3 for all details

[26] Doing so is not a problem of smearing being that the prohibition only applies if one smoothens out the bumps of which there is no concern regarding ones teeth. However a thick toothpaste is forbidden due to Nolad as it becomes liquidly when placed in the mouth.

Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to smear toothpaste on one’s teeth due to the smearing prohibition. [Igros Moshe 1:112]

[27] Shvus Yaakov 2:4; Ketzos Hashulchan 144 footnote 1; Sharreiy Efrayim; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.

[28] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan ibid in name of Shaareiy Efrayim and Rav Akiva Eiger.

[29] As this proves that the wax never really covered the letter, as explains Shvus Yaakov in his Teshuvah there.

[30] Shvus Yaakov ibid and Ketzos Hashulchan ibid [Vetzaruch Iyun based on this as to why is cleaning dishes or cleaning eyeglasses not forbidden due to Mimachek!]; However, Rav Akivah Eiger writes that the reason is because of Tikkun Keli. See Ketzos Hashulchan ibid which argues that in this case there is no problem of Tikkun Keli. Why

[31] M”B 10

[32] Piskeiy Teshuvos 140:3

[33] Doing so does not contain the Mimacheik prohibition, as it does not apply to one’s skin.

[34] Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:6. It is a wonderment that he does not make mention of the ruling of the SSH”K regarding the wax ear plugs!


[36] Pashut and so rules Piskeiy Teshuvah 314:6 footnote 22.


[38] SSH”K 14:39

[39] Shraga Hameir 5:23

[40] SSH”K 16:13; Piskeiy Teshuvos 314:6

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