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Does Melaben Involve Water Or Not?

The gemara in Shabbos [147b] says "If one shakes his garment on Shabbos he is liable to bring a korban chatas." The reason is that he is doing the forbidden labor of "melaben" - whitening. Rashi says that it is talking about shaking dust from a garment that a person wants to clean. [Tosaphos argues that he shakes the moisture of dew from his garment but if it is dry there is no melaben]. The Shulchan Aruch and Rema [302] rule like Rashi - see there.

Rebbe Akiva Eiger asks the following: The gemara earlier [141] writes that if one has mud on his garment he may rub it from the inside of the garment but not from the outside. Rashi explains that rubbing it from the inside is not a problem but when rubbing it from the outside it LOOKS like melaben but it is not actually melaben because there is no water used and there IS NO [biblical] MELABEN WITHOUT WATER. So why does Rashi say [on 147b] that there IS a biblical prohibition of melaben even without water.

So do you need water for melaben or not?! Rebbe Akiva Eiger does not answer this question. Can you?

Good Shabbos sweetest friends!!!

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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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