Shabbos Shaylos: Mopping

February 1, 2005

It is the standard procedure that after each meal, the kitchen floor is mopped. It is however feasible to sweep after each meal and only mop once a day (i.e. after Shabbos).

1. Can a caterer ask a non-Jew to mop the floor in the kitchen on Shabbos?

2. If no, can he ask the non-Jew to “clean” the floor? The non-Jew could interpret the word “clean” to mean “sweep” but he is likely to understand the Jew’s true intention and mop the floor.

3. Can the caterer “play dumb” and allow the non-Jew to follow the standard procedure which involves mopping? He won’t tell the non-Jew to mop but the non-Jew understands that that is what the caterer wants him to do.

Rav Belsky said that it is improper for the non-Jews to mop the floors in any of the above cases except in following circumstances.

1. The non-Jew could be asked to “clean up” a spill since the Jew didn’t tell him to use a mop or how well he wanted it cleaned. If the non-Jew chooses to use a mop and do a “perfect job” then that was done ada’tah d’nafshey and we do not have to protest.

2. The “mopper” is an employee of the non-Jewish hotel owner and does not work for the Jewish caterer. In this case, the non-Jew is mopping up the Jew’s mess but he is doing that to satisfy his non-Jewish boss. Thus, the non-Jewish owner is telling the non-Jewish worker to mop the floor and there is no issue of amirah l’akum.

Mopping on Shabbos involves an issur d’rabannan of s’chitah (see Shulchan Aruch 320:7 and Mishnah Berurah 320:29). One who soaks a mop in water violates an issur d’oraisah of melaben (see Mishnah Berurah 302:39) and wringing out a mop involves an issur d’oraisah of melaben.

Part of a series of questions and answers about the Sabbath that have arisen within the Orthodox Union Kosher Division.


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