16 January 2010 - 1 Shevat 5770 - א' שבט ה' אלפים תש"ע
M'napetz - Combing Print E-mail

There are 39 categories of activity that are forbidden in Shabbat. These are
drawn from the commandment to cease work on Shabbat and its connection to
the building of the Mishkan. Each of the categories relate to activities required to
build the Mishkan.

The av melacha of combing or m’napetz refers to the act of combing raw wool
or other natural materials as part of the process of creating usable fi bers. Combing
tangled fi bers or beating compact material into separate strands was necessary
to prepare wool for spinning or weaving.

In modern times, where most people are removed from this process, the melacha
still extends to a number of activities that they are more likely to encounter. The
tolodot extends to untangling extremely tangled strings or beating flax stalks.

This prohibition applies to separating tangled Tzitzit or straightening a very
tangled necklace chain. Many extend the rule to prohibit the combing of a wig.

Combing one’s natural hair is not prohibited by this melacha as no fi bers are being
formed. Combing hair, however, is a prohibiting act under the melacha category
of gozez or sheering.

Combing hair falls under this category of sheering because hairs are inevitable
removed or pulled during the process. There are exceptions when a special brush
is used in a gentle manner.


(Issue April 2008) 

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