Sweeping on Shabbos

1. Sweeping on Shabbos:[1]

A. Using brooms made of hard strands:

Breakable strands:[2] It is forbidden to sweep on Shabbos using a broom made of twigs [or other hard strands] which easily break upon being used.[3] This applies to all types of floors, even tiled floors.[4] [Thus one may not use a straw broom[5] to sweep with on Shabbos.[6]]

Non-breakable strands:[7] It is disputed amongst Poskim whether one may sweep an earth floor on Shabbos even if the material of the broom does not break while sweeping with it.[8] It is further disputed amongst Poskim if one may sweep a tiled floor on Shabbos.[9] Practically, 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.[10] [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.[11] Thus one may sweep his tiled floor using brooms which are made up of woven hairs, whether the hairs are synthetic[12] or real.[13] However some Poskim[14] rule one is to only rely on this leniency if he had previously swept his floor on Erev Shabbos.]

B. Using brooms made of soft materials:[15]

It is permitted to sweep one’s floor using a broom made of soft material, such as cloth, rag, or duck feather.[16] [This allowance applies both to tiled and earth floors.[17]]

C. Asking a gentile to sweep one’s floor:[18]

It is permitted to ask a gentile to sweep one’s floor in any situation [using any type of broom].[19] [This allowance applies even to sweeping an earth floor using a broom of hard breakable strands.]

D. May one sweep away Muktzah items?[20] 

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.[21] It is however forbidden to use a broom to move Muktzah items that have a use, and are not viewed as filth or garbage.[22]

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[23].] 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[24] 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.[25] One may not use a specially manufactured carpet broom.[26]

List of brooms and their law:

·         Straw broom: Forbidden[27]

·         Broom with synthetic hairs: Permitted on tiled floors[28]  in cities that majority of floors are tiled.[29]

 

May one screw in the rod of a broom into a broom?[30]

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.

2. Is a broom Muktzah?[31]

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:[32] A broom made of hard material [which can break such as a straw broom[33]] is MM”I. A broom made of soft material [or hard material that cannot break[34] such as synthetic hair[35]] is not Muktzah.[36]

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[1] Admur 337:2-3

[2] Admur 337:3; Rama 337:2; Shiltei Giborim 36

[3] The reason: This is forbidden for two reasons:

  1. When using brooms made of reeds [or 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. See 314:17. [Admur 337:3; Rama ibid] (For this reason it is also forbidden to sweep using a broom made of branches of a tree even on a tiled floor, even according to the lenient opinion who generally allows sweeping on a tiled floor. The lenient opinion was only lenient with regards to using a broom made of date leaves which do not break upon sweeping.) [Admur ibid, parentheses in original; M”A 337:5]
  2. When using a hard broom on an earth floor, even if the material is not breakable, 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, and according to some opinions this prohibition applies equally to a tiled floor. Practically the custom is to be stringent. [Admur 337:2, as explained next] 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]

[4] 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. [Admur ibid] 

[5]

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

[7] Admur 337:2

Background:

When using a hard broom on an earth floor, even if the material is not breakable, 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. [First and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Stam opinion in Michaber 337:2; Rambam 21:3; Rashi Shabbos 124b; See Admur 277 Kuntrus Achron 1 that this is a case of Safek Pesik Reishei] 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. [2nd opinion Admur ibid; Rama 337:2; Sefer Hateruma 254; Hagahos Maimanis on Rambam ibid; Mordechai 414] However other opinions rule that it is permitted to sweep stone floors and certainly wood floors [or floors tiled with other material], as there is no worry that one may come to level the ground. (Now, 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.) [1st and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid] Furthermore, some opinions rule it is permitted to sweep even on earth floors, as they hold that the smoothening of the gaps is not inevitable. [2nd opinion Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber ibid; Tosafus Shabbos 95a in name of Bahag; Rif] 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. [Admur 337:2; Rama ibid; Rosh 22:15] 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]

[8] The dispute: When using a hard broom on an earth floor, even if the material is not breakable, 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. [First and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Stam opinion in Michaber 337:2; Rambam 21:3; Rashi Shabbos 124b; See Admur 277 Kuntrus Achron 1 that this is a case of Safek Pesik Reishei] However some opinions rule it is permitted to sweep even on earth floors, as they hold that the smoothening of the gaps is not inevitable. [2nd opinion Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber ibid; Tosafus Shabbos 95a in name of Bahag; Rif]

[9] The dispute: 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. [2nd opinion Admur ibid; Rama 337:2; Sefer Hateruma 254; Hagahos Maimanis on Rambam ibid; Mordechai 414] However other opinions rule that it is permitted to sweep stone floors and certainly wood floors [or floors tiled with other material], as there is no worry that one may come to level the ground. (Now, 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.) [1st and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid]

[10] Admur 337:2; Rama ibid; Rosh 22:15; See previous footnotes in the first reason behind the prohibition

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

[12]

[13] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

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

[15] 337:2; Rama 337:2; Igur 517

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

[17] Ketzos Hashulchan 146:27 and so is implied from Admur and M”B 337:11

The reason: As such materials are light and will not come to smooth the gaps of an earth floor. So rules

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

[18] 337:2

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

[20] 337:2; M”A 337:4; Biur Halacha 308:27 “Minaeri”

[21] The reason: 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. [Admur ibid; Rashba and Ran; M”B 337:12] Alternatively the reason is because this is considered Tiltul Min Hatzad which is permitted to be done for a Mutar item, such as to make room on the floor. [Shaar Hatziyon 337:7; Biur Halacha 337:2 “Veyeish Machmirim”; Ramban in Milchamos 48b] Admur negates this reason in 308:60, and 259 Kuntrus Achron 3, based on M”A 259:8.

[22] 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!

Other opinions: According to those that rule one may move Muktzah with a knife for the need of the space [Taz 308:18; M”B 308115] would likewise rule here that it is allowed.

[23] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[24] 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.

[25] Minchas Yitzchak 5:39

[26] 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]

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

[28] Piskeiy Teshuvos 337:4 in name many Poskim, Upashut!

[29] 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.]

[30] SSH”K 23:1

[31] 308:87

[32] 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

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

[34] 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”]

[35] SSH”K ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[36] 308:87; 337:3-4

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