Avramy ate chicken at the Friday night seuda. Now his hands are greasy. He remembered that last week his father, after eating a pomegranate, cleaned his hands with water as opposed to with a cloth

chicken roast

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons, chicken

napkin. Avramy is now wondering if he must do the same.


 What is the difference between cleaning hands from pomegranate juice and cleaning them from chicken grease? Can Avramy use a cloth napkin to clean his hands now?


To review from last week, the potential issue when a person wipes fruit juice from his hands is the melacha of Tzoveya (dyeing). Tzoveya is an av melacha, as it was required to dye the wool covers of the Mishkan. The Beis Yosef1 cites Sefer Yereim which says that after eating strawberries or similar fruits, one should be careful not to touch his clothing or a tablecloth with juice-stained fingers. The concern is that one will apply the fruit juice to the cloth, thereby performing a toladah of tzoveya.

The Darchei Moshe2, however, cites the opinion of the Agur who holds that this action is not considered tzoveya (even m’derabbanan) because it is derech lichluch (the cloth gets soiled more than it gets improved). Most of the later poskim rule stringently on this halacha3. The Mishna Berura4,

however, does allow one to rely on the lenient opinions when a person has no other way to clean his hands. There is also a controversy among contemporary authorities whether the melacha of tzoveya applies to disposable items (e.g., a paper napkin).

Rav Neuwirth zt‖l in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchosa rules leniently on the matter5. However, the sefer Chut Shoni6 (a collection of shiurim from HaRav Nissim Karelitz shlit”a) states that since a disposable item does not deteriorate on its own, melacha of tzoveya does in fact apply to it.

The sefer Chut Shoni, 7 however, says that according to all opinions, the concern of performing tzoveya in these scenarios is applicable only when one’s hands are soiled with liquids that have an ability to dye fabric (e.g., fruit juice8, cocoa9). Cleaning hands from other unwanted matter (e.g., food grease) is permissible even with a cloth napkin (even though the napkin gets somewhat “colored”). Consequently, in our scenario, Avromy may use a cloth napkin to clean his hands from the chicken grease. w

*Note: Since this is just a discourse in halacha and not p’sak halacha, one should ask his Rav on how to conduct himself if such a case should arise.


ז תוא כש ןמיס ש‘‘הע ,דכ ק‘‘ס םש ב‘‘מ   ,כ ףיעס כש ןמיס ע‘‘וש .3

םש .2   כש ןמיס ח‘‘א י‘‘ב .1

ט‘‘י   קרפ ינש טוח .6   )השדח הרודהמב(   אכ ףיעס די קרפ ה‘‘כשש .5

ט‘‘נ ק‘‘ס

כש ןמיס ב‘‘מ .4

םש ה‘‘כשש .9

םש .8

םש .7    ב תוא