Wearing a Garment That Was Wet During Bein Hashmashos

 Courtesy of Ohr Olam Mishnah Berurah

Question: On Shabbos, is it permitted to wear or move a garment that was wet during bein hashmashos [after sunset on Friday evening] but later dried on its own?

Discussion: A soaking wet17 garment may not be worn or moved on Shabbos, lest one come to wring it out, an act which is forbidden on Shabbos min Hatorah.18 The basic principle is that any item which was muktzeh during bein hashmashos remains muktzeh for the entire Shabbos even if the reason for which it became muktzeh originally no longer applies. Some contemporary poskim rule, therefore, that a garment that was soaking wet during bein hashmashos remains muktzeh for the remainder of Shabbos, even if it has completely dried by some point later on Shabbos.19 It follows, therefore, that a pair of wet pants left on the clothes line, or a soaking wet dress left in the dryer remain muktzeh for the rest of Shabbos.

Other poskim disagree with this ruling on several grounds. One of their arguments is based on the concept established in this Chapter that only a muktzeh item which is gamro biydei shamayim (lit. the muktzeh status can only be changed via a force beyond the owner’s control, e.g. the weather) remains muktzeh for the rest of Shabbos if it was muktzeh during bein hashmashos. But an item which is gamro biydei adam (lit. the muktzeh status can be changed via a force within the owner’s control) does not remain muktzeh once its status has changed. Since a wet item can dry by itself, it is no longer considered muktzeh once it has dried. Following this logic, some poskim rule that all wet clothes which have dried are no longer considered muktzeh and may be worn or moved, even if the moving is for the purpose of the garment and not of the wearer, such as to protect the garment from rain or wind.20

Rav Moshe Feinstein21 suggests an approach that seems to be a compromise between these two opposing opinions. Whether or not a wet garment remains muktzeh after it has dried depends upon the mindset and actions of its owner before Shabbos began. If, for example, he hung up22 the wet garment to dry before Shabbos began, hoping that it would dry sometime on Shabbos, then the garment will lose its muktzeh status once it has dried, for he never intended to “set it aside” and render it muktzeh for the entire Shabbos. If, however, he did not specifically plan on the garment drying out but just dismissed it from his mind and now, upon finding that they it is dry would like to wear it, that garment would be considered muktzeh. Similarly, if one intentionally left clothes in a running dryer before Shabbos thinking that he may need to wear them on Shabbos, he may do so.23 If, however, he left them in the dryer thinking that he will not need them on Shabbos, they remain muktzeh if they were still soaking wet by the time Shabbos began.

All poskim agree that one who has no suitable Shabbos clothes other than the ones that were wet during bein hashmashos, may wear those clothes once they have dried.24

17. “Wet” means soaking wet; if it was merely damp, it may be worn or moved; Rama. O.C. 302:9. If the garment is only partially wet, it is still considered wet as long as the wet part constitutes a significant part of the garment (Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 15:17, note 50).

18. Rama, O.C. 301:46. The rule that a wet garment may not be moved or worn does not apply to items which people are not particular if they are wet, such as towels or rags (Mishnah Berurah 301:172-173) or diapers (see Mishnah Berurah 301:164). It also does not apply to garments made of synthetic material or leather as the prohibition of sechitah does not apply to them (Rav S.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 15, note 47). It also does not apply if two or more people move the garment together (Minchas Shelomo 1:10, pg. 80, based on Magen Avraham 301:58).

19. Rav Y.S. Elyashiv, based on Mishnah Berurah 308:63.

20. Chazon Ish, quoted in Orchos Shabbos 19, note 563. See also Minchas Yitzchak 1:81. Rav S.Z. Auerbach disagrees with the above ruling on other grounds as well; see Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 15, note 63 and Shulchan Shelomo 308:43.

21. Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:21-10; 22:26. A similar approach is suggested by Minchas Yitzchak 1:81, Minchas Shelomo 1:10 (pg. 81) and Shevet ha-Levi 1:62-3.

22. Indoors, or even outside but in a dry climate or in a season when it does not rain.

23. It is permitted to open the dryer door on Shabbos once the dryer has stopped even if the machine was running during bein hashmashos; see Orchos Shabbos 19:385. L’chatchilah, though, one should not leave clothes drying in a dryer once Shabbos has begun since one is not supposed to allow a noisy appliance to run in his home during Shabbos; Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:22-38, based on Rama, O.C. 252:6.

24. Based on Mishnah Berurah 301:162 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 302:17.