Soaking cloth pads on Shabbat
12 December, 2006
As a child, I was taught that on Shabbat and Yom Tov it was within Halachic boundaries to leave lights on in some rooms before sundown so we would not be in the dark. Since we would not be turning appliances on and off, we would not be violating Torah law.
As an adult, I've applied the same theory to my use of cloth pads. On Friday afternoon, I fill a large container with clean, cold water. If I need to soak my pad, I simply remove it and place it in the container – it's no more work than removing a disposable pad and placing it in the trash. Then on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, I rinse and wash them.
The trick to this is to have a large supply handy, but no matter how large the supply, it's gentler on the earth than filling up landfills with disposables!
I never thought to consult my rabbi about this, though. Is it reasonable to believe that I'm adhering to Halacha, though?
We understand that you have been making every effort to adhere to halacha. However, the practice you describe is not permissible on Shabbat. Placing a garment in water to soak during Shabbat is sheriyah (soaking), an action prohibited in the context of the melachah (category of forbidden labor) of melabein (laundering). It is not permitted even if you will not touch the garment again until after Shabbat, even if there is no soap in the water, and even if the water is cold.
This case is not analogous to that of passively leaving lights on, since here you are actively placing the cloth pads into the water.
Instead, we suggest depositing soiled cloth pads in an empty container and washing them after Shabbat.
This internet service does not preclude, override or replace the psak of any rabbinical authority. It is the responsibility of the questioner to inform us of any previous consultation or ruling. As even slight variation in circumstances may have Halachic consequences, views expressed concerning one case may not be applied to other, seemingly similar cases. All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.
For further questions or comments:
The Nishmat Women's Health and Halacha Site is a public service of Nishmat, The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women. This project and others like it are made possible by contributions from people like you. If you have benefited from the service, and wish to enable us to help others, click here to donate.
Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under yoatzot.org.