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A Colorful Shabbos

Blood is red
Violets are blue
Here's a hilchos shabbos question
From me to you

There is a prohibition on Shabbos called "tzovea" [coloring]. For example, it is forbidden for a woman to apply makeup on Shabbos. The gemara [ksubos 5a] discusses whether it is permitted for a newly married woman to have relations for the first time on Shabbos. However the gemara doesn't seem to be bothered by an obvious problem. The bedsheet will be stained by blood, which would seem to be tzovea! Why is the gemara assuming that there is no tzovea involved?

Even today the problem exists. The halacha is that a woman is allowed, on shabbos, to insert a cloth inside herself in order to determine if she is still menstruating. But if there is in fact still blood then she will be coloring the cloth. So how is it permitted on shabbos?

Sounds like a case of davar she'eino mitkaven...

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i agree with beisrunner.
i think this also sounds like tzovea derech lichluch! where the dyeing is actually more dirtying than dyieng. examples: 1) nosebleed, and you use a white handkercheif to soak/stop the blood. blood normally isnt used to dye handkercheifs and the blood on it has now made the handkercheif DIRTY to you rather than dyed. 2)eating cherries, and the juice is on your hands, wipe em off on a towel, the towel is now red.

is this tzovea? MACHLOKET RISHONIM!

a)since,in concept, it's not dyeing, its dirtying, its not tzovea at all, and not prohibitted even d'rabbanan.
b) true, it's destructive, but it's DYEING something in a destructive way! when you do a melacha thats destructive its assur drabbanan.

halachically, LCHATCHILA we are choshesh of the opinion that its assur drabbanan. so you should not wipe your cherried hands on a white towel, and certainly not on a red towel! then it's not even destructive, it enhances the color! likewise for nosebleed.

so what should you do? if you can wash it off (eg juice on your hands) wash it off and dont wipe it on any cloth.
and if you cant (eg your bleeding nose)? commercial paper, after it's made is considered that it cant dye. dyeing paper would destroy it, so the concept of dyeing doesnt apply to paper at all, (eg paper towels, tissues, gauze, cotton balls) [note: they might be colored, but that means they were dyed WHILE they were being made, they are never dyed AFTER they are made].
Bdieved, if you dont have such an item, you can rely on opinion 'a'.

the next situation is when there is a Tzorech gadol, and you cant use paper, in which case you do it l'chatchila. (we all knwo you cant pour water on white cloths [considered cleaning] but...) you can pour colored water like in the case of putting out a fire on the table with white tablecloth. cant pour water around the fire because it's cleaning, so you can pour red wine or other colored liquids around the fire to prevent it form spreading.

Sof Sof, i think that a bedikah counts as tzorech gadol. it's a huge mitzvah, and if it needs to be done, you cant use paper, to do so would be a major tza'ar, (as i would imagine, ive never done it, but) i understand that the cloths are made especially soft, and using paper would be anti-oneg shabbat, shalom bayit, & dracheha darchei noam.

(Much of the explanations of tzovea were herd from R' Zev Leff)

It's a double safek, so we permit the women to insert the cloth.

Cloths are disposable and bedsheets arent. Maybe thats why

No Melechet Machshevet, davar shelo mitkavein and numerous other sfeikot and derababnnans (combined with the Torah's stress on shalom bayit)

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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