Volume 26 Number 13
                      Produced: Thu Mar 20  9:23:24 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Brushing Teeth on Shabbat (6)
         [Aaron D. Gross, Ari Kahn, Yosef Dweck, Benjamin Waxman, Daniel
Geretz, Mark J. Feldman]


From: Aaron D. Gross <adg@...>
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 1997 17:27:02 -0800
Subject: Re: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

>From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@...>
>>Zvi Goldberg writes
>>         Furthermore, for those with sore gums, causing anything to bleed
>> is also prohibited because of shechita (slaughtering) ?
>The problem of bleeding gums as related to brushing teeth is an issue.
>Rav Braun Z"L in Shaarim Metzuyanim Bhalacha on the Kitzur Shulchan
>Aruch Sif 80 footnote 48 states that it is forbbiden to brush your teeth
>on Shabbos because it is a psik reisha (certain outcome) that your gums
>will bleed in the process.

CERTAIN?!?  Perhaps only if your minhag is not to brush daily during the
rest of the week.  A *minimal* amount of regular brushing, even once
every other day, is usually sufficient to prevent bleeding gums.
Maintaining a minimal standard of hygiene would seem to fall under
"Kedoshim tihiyu" ("You shall be holy").  Flossing, unless one does so
regularly, will almost certainly cause bleeding.

Moreover, a light "once-over" brushing with a liquid toothpaste or with
mouthwash (so memachek is not an issue) using a different "shabbos"
toothbrush to remove the overnight "film" from Friday night's lokshen
kugel, shouldn't seem to be an issue, any more than giving plates a
rinse and a "shabbos dishbrush" once-over before putting them in the

---   Aaron D. Gross -- http://www.pobox.com/~adg  

From: Ari Kahn <kahnar@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 1997 17:27:20 +0200
Subject: Re: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

- it does not happenin all cases, arguably it depends on the person. I
do not think it is even "Korov li Psik Reisha. Furthemore - is this blood
"nicha lieh"?
 Ari kahn

From: <JDST156@...> (Yosef Dweck)
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 17:14:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

There are several issues that need to be dealt with in this particular
matter with regards to the halacha.

 1)The Av Melacha of "memahek" of which "memareah" is a
toledah. "Memahek" is the melacha of striping the hairs off of an animal
hide in order to make it parchment. This is a "smoothing" of the
skin. Thus memareah which is spreading or "smoothing" something over
falls under this isur. Is the act of brushing teeth with toothpaste a
halachic problem due to this isur?
 2) Is there the Isur of "sehitah" or squeezing out the water from the
toothbrush after use?
 3) Is there an Isur due to the problem of bristles falling out?
 4) Is there an Isur of "nolad" the making of suds out of the toothpaste
that where not there prior to brushing?
 5) Is there an Isur of extracting blood from the gums during brushing?

This is an issue that many Aharonim of our generation have dealt with. I
would like to present a consice gathering of the opinions both for
sepharadim and ashkenazim. Since there are many issues to be dealt with
as brought above, I will write about one at a time and send each one

1) Is the act of brushing teeth with toothpaste a halachic problem due
to the isur of memahek?
	In gemara Shabbat (141a) it is written: "One who spreads wax
over a crack in the wall of a vessel in order to seal it up (on Shabbat)
is required to bring a korban hatat". Rashi explains there that
spreading is in the family of the melacha called "memahek" which is the
act of stripping hair from an animal hide in order to make
parchment. This act of smearing is similsr since you are smoothing
something over as in the original melacha with the animal hide.
Furthermore there is an argument in that gemara between Rav and Shmuel
as to whether smearing thick coagulated oil is permitted. Rav prohibits
due to the worry that one doing so will also come to do the same with
actual wax which is prohibited. Shmuel permitted this.
	The three pillars of halacha, the Rosh, Rif and Rambam all ruled
in agreement with Rav that it is prohibited. The Shulhan aruch also
ruled that it is prohibited (Siman Shin Yud Dalet halacha yud alef). It
would thus seem from here that smearing toothpaste on the teeth while in
the act of brushing is prohibited.
	There is however a distiction made by the Magen Avraham on this
Isur. In shulhan aruch (siman Shin tet zayin in the Magen Avraham ot Kaf
Dalet). He holds that if the intension while smearing is not to keep
what was smeared, rather the smearing was done not for the smearing's
sake but to accomplish something else there is no prohibition in doing
so. An example of this is brought in the Shulhan Aruch where one smears
"spit" into the floor with one's shoe. Since the intention there is not
to smear the spit but rather to get it absorbed into the ground there is
no isur in this case.
	The Gedolei Hador disagree as to whether the smearing of
toothpaste while brushing teeth is like this situtation, which is
permitted, or not.
	Harav Ovadiah Yosef Shlit"a in Shu"t Yabia Omer (Helek Dalet
Siman Kaf Zayin) brings many poskim to prove that the Magen Avraham's
distinction is applicable here since one is not smearing the toothpaste
for the sake of smearing but simply to clean his teeth, with no desire
that the smeared toothpaste remain on his teeth. (In other words if one
could brush one's teeth without smearing the toothpaste it would make no
	Harav Moshe Feinstein Zt"l in Shu't Igrot Moshe (Helek Alef
Siman Kuf Yud Bet) writes that it is quite simple that smearing the
toothpaste while brushing is still an Isur of Memahek. Harav Eliezer
Waldenberg Shlit"a agrees to the prohibition in his psak in Shu"t Tzitz
Eliezer (Helek Zayin Siman lamed) holding that one does wish to smear
the toothpaste for a small ammount of time in order to clean the teeth
and this intention is enough to prohibit doing so.
	Thus the end halacha in this case depends on which of the above
Gedolei Hador one follows.
 	*Please note this is not a psak simply a gathering of
information and opinions on the subject and as mentioned above there are
several other issues to be dealt with concerning this issue.

[Next submission combined. Mod.]

Is there a prohibition in squeezing the water out of the toothbrush
while brushing?

	There is a prohibition against squeezing liquid from cloth on
Shabbat. Thus there is a reason to be concerned with the water that is
sqeezed out of the bristles of the toothbrush while brushing.
	Although there is a problem with squeezing liquid from a cloth,
while brushing teeth the act of squeezing done is considered a "Pesik
Reshei" in which the one brushing teeth has no intention of squeezing
out the water from the bristles yet it is unavoidable while brushing the
	Harav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a deals with this matter in Yabia Omer
(helek dalet daf, Kuf caf bet, ot yud tet). The toothbrush bristles are
likened to hair and there is no Isur of sehita in hair from the Torah as
brought in Gemara Shabbat (128b). In any case according to the Rambam
(perek bet of halachot Shabbat halacha yud alef) there is a rabbinical
prohibition. The Bet Yosef as well indicates this prohibition in Bet
Yosef Orah Hayim (Siman Shin Lamed).  The Rashba and Ritva, however, do
not agree that there is a rabinical prohibition in the matter. In any
case the halacha today is like the Rambam and the Mehaber (Rav Yosef
Karo) that there is a prohibition of squeezing liquid from hair as well,
albeit only a rabinical one.
	Being that this is only a rabbinical prohibition, the pesik
reshe is only one of a rabbinical prohibition. It is for this reason
partially that Harav Ovadia writes that there is a safek sefeka in the
matter (a double safek or doubt in the law) which would wave the
prohibition of sehita (squeezing).
	Firstly, this being a pesik reshe in a rabbinical prohibition,
perhaps the law is like the scholars that hold all pesik reshe in
rabbincal prohibitions are permitted. Moreover even if the law is like
those who say it is not permitted, perhaps the law is like the Rashba
and Ritva who hold there is no rabbinical prohibition in the matter at
all. The Rav continues to point out that this particular case should be
dealt with even more leniently being that the actual squeezing is done
in a "roundabout" manner not the way one would do it if one wanted to
squeeze the water out solely.
	All said, the Rav therefore holds that there is no prohibition
in the area of squeezing out the water from the bristles while brushing
on Shabbat.

From: Benjamin Waxman <benjaminw@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Mar 1997 18:02:30 +0200
Subject: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

Regarding the idea of peseek resha I think that some of the ideas
expressed are not correct.

In Shmerrat Shabbat Kehelchata, part 3, Introduction to the Laws of
Shabbat, Rav Nubrit defines Peseek Resha as (and I am quoting) "cutting
the head and it won't die?!-That is to say just as it is impossible to
cut the head of an animal without causing its death, so too it is
impossible to do a (certain, seemingly) permitted activity without
directly causing a forbidden activity to be performed."  In other works
what a person is about to do, even though the action in of itself is OK,
it will cause a forbidden activity to be done; therefore even the
permitted activity is forbidden.

However, what we are talking about here is that the forbidden activity
will happen without a shadow of a doubt.  A person who washes his hands
over a garden WILL end up watering the garden.  If it candles are near a
closed window and it is windy outside and someone opens the window the
candles will be blown.  This is not the case with brushing one's teeth.
Anyone with reasonably healthy gums will not bleed when he brushes his
teeth.  And even if someone wants to claim that most people bleed most
of the time, still that is not a peseek resha.  A peseek resha means
that the outcome will happen not matter what.

Furthermore, I quote again from Shmerrat Shabbat Kehelchata, footnote
47, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach wrote that even if the forbidden result
happened many times, this still isn't a peseek resha. Each time that you
do the (permitted) action you must judge if the forbidden result is
going to happen.  Therefore, washing one's hands in his garden will
always be forbidden assuming that the laws of gravity continue to
function.  However, if one's gums are unhealthy and he occasionally
bleeds, that doesn't mean that brushing will necessarily cause bleeding
and therefore it isn't a peseek resha.

Ben Waxman, Project Manager
email: <BenjaminW@...>
Telephone: +972-2-6528274 ext. 109 Fax: +972-2-6528356
LiveLink Systems Ltd.  www.livelink.com

From: <DGeretz@...> (Daniel Geretz)
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 10:59:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

I'm not sure I understand the logic here.  I am not a dentist, but I
think that most dentists and/or hygienists that you would ask would
agree that bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease (gingivitis) and not
a normal characteristic of healthy gums. Mine did.  (Also, if your gums
*are* healthy and they bleed when you brush - either your toothbrush is
too hard or you're brushing too hard.)

I don't understand, therefore, how bleeding gums are a certain outcome
of brushing teeth!  It would seem that in the long run, if you brush
your teeth every day (including Shabbos), your gums would be *less
likely* to bleed.

On the same subject and in the same issue, Mark Zelunka wrote:

> Isn't there also a prohibition of brushing your teeth on Shabbos because of
> the potential for bristles falling out?

I can't ever remember this happening to me.  My dentist currently
recommends changing toothbrushes every three months.  At that interval,
the brush never seems to get worn to a point where the bristles would
either fall out or break off due to stress fractures.

Daniel Geretz

From: Mark J. Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 17:47:25 -0500
Subject: Brushing Teeth on Shabbat

Ezriel Krumbein mentioned that Rav Braun in Shaarim Metzuyanim Bhalacha
stated that it is forbidden to brush teeth on Shabbos because it is psik
reisha (certain outcome) that your gums will bleed in the process.

As I mentioned previously, Rav Soloveitchik zt'l and Rav Schachter
shlit'a permit brushing teeth on Shabbos.  Impliedly, they do not
believe that bleeding gums is a psik reisha (a CERTAIN outcome).  My own
experience is that my teeth do not usually bleed when I brush them.  Any
dentists on the list who can give statistics on this issue?  Also, I
wonder whether Rav Braun wrote at time when toothbrushes did not contain
the same soft bristles they contain today and were more likely to cause

Mark Zelunka asked:
>  Isn't there also a prohibition of brushing... because
>  of the potential for bristles falling out?

Again, so long as such outcome is not CERTAIN, this should not be a psik
reisha, but a davar she'eino miskaven (an unintended consequence which
is permitted so long as it is not certain).

Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 4:30) and Rav Yechiel Y. Weinberg (Sridei
Aish 2:28) both assert that there is no psik reishei with regard to
bleeding or bristles falling out.  Rav Ovadia Yosef adds at the end of
the responsum (loose translation): "However, this is only for those who
have become accustomed to [brushing teeth] and there is no certainty
that they will cause their teeth or gums to bleed as a result of
brushing.  However, for those who are not accustomed [to brushing] and
there is a psik reishei with regard to bleeding, they should be
forbidden [from brushing on Shabbat]."

Kol Tuv,


End of Volume 26 Issue 13