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picking on shabbos

Rabbi David SperlingIyyar 14, 5774
1153
Question
Hi, I would like to know if it is OK to squeeze a pimple on Shabbat (if you think that it is not likely to bleed). What about picking a scab on your face? What about picking at your cuticles? I have big problems with all of these things and it makes me very upset that it is getting in the way of my being able to keep Shabbos completely. I heard somewhere that some of them might be OK sometimes. Thank you.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. I appreciate how aggravating some of these "little" things can be. It is certainly better to refrain from these things totally, as one is very likely to come to break Shabbat. But, from the letter of the law one may "pop" open a pimple that is painful on Shabbat, even if there is a chance for a little blood to also come out. However, it is forbidden to squeeze an open pimple as this is likely to draw out fresh blood (see Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah, chapter 35,16). One may remove a scab from a wound with one's hand, unless one knows that this will cause fresh bleeding (Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 35,31). Small pieces of skin which are peeling off around a fingernail, or any other part of the body, but which are still connected, may not be pulled off or cut off with an instrument, by hand or even with the teeth (Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 35,32). Blessings.
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