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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Cleaning and Hygiene

Hands Washing on Shabbat

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Question
Dear Rabbi: Do recent studies about the Torah explain the use of soap during Shabbat? It is forbidden to tape two sheets or to fasten or to stick or to sew on two fabrics together. Considering that the soap has the same function (to tape oil and water or greasy,oliy with water) hands washing is a violation?
Answer
The halachic understanding of a forbidden labor (Melacha) on shabbat, as well as many other halachot, is generally based on what can be seen with the naked eye or otherwise sensed without assistance and not on what happens on a molecular level.
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