Sunday, June 25, 2006

I’ll probably get dirty looks for this post, but . . .

There’s an old saying, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Sometimes I wonder whether my more traditional brethren and sistren “hold by” (Yeshivish for “accept as binding”) that opinion.

Picture this.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon. The parents are rushing around, preparing for Yom Tov (a holiday, especially a Pilgrimage Festival), which starts at sundown. The father barely has time to shave, and one can only hope that either of them has time to shower, not to mention get the kids cleaned up.

No baths, showers, or shampoos are permissible, to the best of my knowledge, on a Pilgrimage Festival.

Brushing one’s teeth is a matter of controversy. Conservatives say, if I understand correctly, that one is allowed to brush, even with toothpaste, because toothpaste is not really solid, so one is not changing it from a solid state to a liquid state. Orthodox opinions vary, if my understanding is correct. Some say you may brush, but without toothpaste, on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

Some say that you’re not allowed to comb your hair, either.

Thursday and Friday (and Saturday, of course—if it’s not permissible on a holiday, that goes double for Shabbat/Sabbath) pass with neither bath, shower, nor shampoo, and the teeth are likely not to be too clean, either. Everyone, after three days of sleeping on unwashed and uncombed hair, is having a “bad hair day.”

So let me get this straight: You go to work squeaky clean, but you stand before G-d with stained teeth and greasy, knotted hair, unwashed, and consequently, somewhat, er, shall we say, fragrant?

Call me an am-haaretz-dikeh apikorus (a Jewishly-illiterate heretic), but, from a purely outsider’s perspective, it seems to me that you’re showing more respect to your boss than to The Boss.

Isn’t there any way to get clean for Elokim without breaking the halachic law?


Blogger Elie said...

Many Orthodox do shower in one form or another on yom tov, especially when it falls on Friday. See this link from the Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society 39, Spring 2000 issue.

Mon Jun 26, 10:41:00 AM 2006  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I'm with you on this one, Shira.

Mon Jun 26, 11:29:00 AM 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

We use liquid toothpaste. And in Israel, Yom Tov is only one day so that if you shower before Shabbat/Chag then you are set. Good reason to make aliyah...

Mon Jun 26, 11:40:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Interesting answers. Too tired to give an intelligent response. Will try to post one tomorrow.

Tue Jun 27, 12:29:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy! Make sweating assur on yom tov and Shabbat.

Tue Jun 27, 10:33:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Ten Jew Very Much, welcome to the wiseguy brigade. :) There are a few other bloggers in that club already. :)

Tue Jun 27, 11:04:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Elie, assuming that I understand that, um, teshuvah(?) (halachic response) to which you so kindly provided a link, shaveh lechol nefesh (that which is) "of benefit to all" is permissible on a Yom Tov (in this context, Pilgrimage Festival). So there's an opinion that, now that daily showering with hot water is common, it's permissible on a Yom Tov. (Hope I got that right--I don't wish to misrepresent.)

Shabbat, on the other hand . . .

Westbankmama, I'd used that liquid toothpaste, if I knew where to buy it.

As for the rest, well, this may fall under the category of "too much information," as the saying goes, but I've made it a practice, of late, to wash a few bits of myself in cold water with liquid soap on the Sabbath. (Boy, am I gonna pay for the "cold water" part next winter--our bathroom is *freezing*!) I don't shampoo my hair and I don't use a washcloth. Is there a problem with that kind of minimal clean-up? I have enough trouble with the idea of going to shul with dirty hair. Is it really assur, forbidden, to wash anything other than one's hands on Shabbat?

Tue Jun 27, 11:07:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"You can make liquid toothpaste by (surprise) mixing water with toothpaste . . . " Um, okay, obviously I should have thought of that. (Duh!)

I have such short hair that I haven't used a brush in years, but it wouldn't kill me to buy one for Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Cold water is fine for summer, but maybe I'll buy a bigger urn so I can swipe some of the hot water for that mini-bath during the winter. Thanks for the info, Blackherring.

Wed Jun 28, 07:18:00 PM 2006  

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