17. Sponges and other cleaning and itching materials

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17. Sponges and other cleaning and itching materials?[1]

Designated for use during the week: One may not rub with a vessel that is designated for rubbing with during the week, unless one’s hands or feet are dirty with mud or feces [and he wants to scrape it off with the vessel, and the vessel is dry[2]].[3]

Designated for use on Shabbos:[4] If one has a scratching instrument which is designated for use only on Shabbos then it is allowed [to be used if it is dry[5]], and for this reason it is customary for single girls to have a vessel made of swine hair which is designated for Shabbos as written in chapter 303 [Halacha 27 in Michaber and Magen Avraham].



A sponge may never be used when wet. If the sponge is dry it may be used if either a) It is designated to be used only on Shabbos or is not but b) one is using it to remove dirt from one’s body and the like.



May one scratch his body using his hands on Shabbos?[6]

Yes, so long as one is careful not to cause any bleeding through doing so.

May one use a back scratcher on Shabbos?

No, unless it is designated to be used only on Shabbos.

May one use a pen and the like to scratch his back on Shabbos?

Yes, as the pen is not designated for this purpose.


May one rub himself with a dry sponge designated for Shabbos if his body is wet?[7]


May one scrub himself with a wet sponge made of synthetic hairs?[9]

If the hairs are not very close together and the sponge is designated for only Shabbos use, it may be used.

May one wash his body using a glove?[10]

Made of plastic: Yes, as the plastic does not absorb and thus no liquid is being squeezed.

Made of cloth: Is forbidden even if designated for only Shabbos use.



[1] Admur 327:3; Michaber 327:3; Mishneh Shabbos 147a and Gemara 147b

[2] As if it is wet one transgresses the squeezing prohibition, Upashut. [Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 16]

[3] The reason: This is forbidden to being a mundane act. [M”B 327:8; Rashi ibid]

[4] Admur ibid; M”A 327:1; Olas Tamid; Bach; M”B 327:10; Shabbos 147b

Other opinions: Some Poskim learn that according to the Gemara one may not use even a Shabbos designated instrument to scratch himself. [Elya Raba, brought in Shaar Hatziyon 327:9] We do not rule like this opinion. [Shaar Hatziyon ibid]

[5] As if it is wet one transgresses the squeezing prohibition, Upashut. [Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 16]

[6] M”B 327:9

[7] Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 16

[8] This does not involve a laundering prohibition as the absorbing of the moisture that is on one’s body by the sponge is in a way of dirtying and not cleaning. [Ketzos Hashulchan ibid.]

[9] SSH”K 14:13

[10] SSH”K 14:13

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