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One of the 39 Melachot on Shabbat is dyeing. The primary prohibition is to color a material with dyes, while the Toladah is to create a liquid dye. [1]


  1. There's no prohibition of dyeing foods on Shabbat[2] even if one intended on dyeing the food. [3]
  2. However, dyeing liquor or honey in order that it is more marketable is forbidden because of dyeing besides for performing a weekday activity on Shabbat (Uvda DeChol).[4] Additionally, put dyes in water and leaving it in the sun in order to make dye is a biblical prohibition.[5]


  1. Since there's no prohibition of dyeing foods, it is permitted to pour red wine into white wine on Shabbat. [6] However, a case where one’s intent is to improve the aesthetic appearance of the food, such as adding red wine to white wine for the Pesach Seder, may be an issue of tzoveya.[7] Additionally, this could potentially be considered lasting because one wants the wine to stay colored until one drinks it, thereby serving a purpose for as long as it is colored.[8]
  2. Some permit adding coloring to a liquid if the liquid only becomes weakly colored (not concentrated) and wouldn't be fit to dye something else. [9]
  3. It is permitted to use a toilet that has a colored soap that colors the incoming water when flushed. [10]

Other Items

Photochromic Glasses

  1. Many poskim allow wearing glasses that will darken when you go out into the sun and don't think it's a problem of coloring the lenses. [11]

Paper Towels and Napkins

  1. One should not wipe their dyed hands (for example, while eating a pomegranate) with a paper towel or napkin because it will become dyed. [12] One can be lenient when there is no other option.[13]



  1. Rambam (Shabbat 9:13-4)
  2. Shulchan Aruch 320:19, Yabia Omer 2:20, Hacham Ovadia's opinions is also found in Chazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, Chelek 2, Page 84, which says that tzevia does not apply to foods and drinks.
    The Shibolei HaLeket (Siman 86) quotes the Yereyim as stating that there is no violation of dyeing when adding saffron to food, even though it gives it a color, because it is dissimilar to the way dyeing is normally done. Rabbi Ribiat (39 Melachos p. 750) gives two explanations of this idea. Rav Hershel Schachter (Shabbos Shiur #16 min 55-60) suggests another reason: coloring food before you eat it could be considered part of the process of eating, derech achila. See the Shaar HaTziyun (318:65) who notes some achronim who disagree and the Yabia Omer O.C. 2:20 who defends the idea that there’s no tzoveya by food.
  3. Mishna Brurah 320:56
  4. Mishna Brurah 320:56, Chaye Adam (Shabbat 24:3)
  5. Mishna Brurah 320:56
  6. Mishna Brurah 320:56; Chazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, Chelek 2, Page 84 includes that tzevia does not apply to beverages
  7. Nishmat Adam 24:3, Rabbi Ribiat (p. 753).
  8. Suggestion based on Nishmat Adam 24:3
  9. Or Letzion (v. 1, Siman 29), Kesot HaShulchan (Badei HaShulchan 146:14)
  10. Or Letzion (v. 1, Siman 29) permitted to use a toilet that has a colored soap that colors the incoming water when flushed for 4 reasons. (1) The waters don't become a dye, but rather are weakly colored. (2) The dyes aren't permanent and are usually flushed away. (3) One doesn't intend to dye the water. (4) It is a Pesik Reisha DeLo Nicha Leh on a Derabbanan and its Koach Sheni.
  11. Igrot Moshe 3:45, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita (ch. 18 fnt. 70), Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 3, p. 377), Sh"t Bitzel Hachochma 4:4, Rabbi Eli Mansour.
    • Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchita 18 footnote 70 writes that wearing the glasses doesn’t constitute tzoveya because the coloring is only temporary and isn’t considered as though a person is doing any action by simply wearing them in the sun.
    • Orchot Shabbos 15:96 questions this second reasoning based on the Gemara Sanhedrin 77a, not considering this to be grama. Rather he permits it because dyeing means adding an external dye to a material to give a color; in this case, with photosensitive glasses, the glass itself changes colors and no external substance is being added.
    • see Rabbi Ayreh Lebowitz for more on this
  12. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 320:20, Mishna Brurah 320:59
  13. Mishna Brurah 320:59
Category Topic
Mitzvot of Shabbat
Kiddush Levana - Enjoying Shabbat - Fourth meal of Shabbat - Havdalah - Having a meal on Friday - In the Spirit of Shabbat - Kiddush - Lighting Shabbat Candles - Making Early Shabbat - Making one hundred Brachot on Shabbat - Preparing foods on Shabbat - Preparing for Shabbat - Shenayim Mikrah - Kavod Shabbat - Shabbos Davening - Seudat Shabbat - Seudat Shelishit - Lechem Mishneh - Motzei Shabbat - When Does Shabbat Start?
Restrictions of Shabbat
Allowing Carrying Using an Eruv Chatzerot - Animals on Shabbat - Asking a Jew to work on Shabbat - Asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (Amirah LeNochri) - Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat (Maaseh Shabbat) - Books, notebooks, and papers - Brushing Teeth on Shabbat - Building a structure on Shabbat (Boneh) - Carrying on Shabbat - Cleaning the dishes - Cleaning and Folding Garments on Shabbat - Clearing the table - Cooking (Ofeh and Bishul) - Cosmetics on Shabbat - Dancing and clapping on Shabbat - Electricity on Shabbat - Eruv Chatzerot - Eruvin - Games on Shabbat - Getting dressed on Shabbat - Giving birth on Shabbat - Grinding (Tochen) - Handling objects on Shabbat (Muktzeh) - Infants on Shabbat - Introduction to the Modern Eruv - Kneading (Lash) - Mail on Shabbat - Medicine on Shabbat (Refuah on Shabbat) - Melacha That Begins Before Shabbat - Opening bottles and containers (Boneh) - Plants on Shabbat (Zoreah) - Preparing for after Shabbat (Hachana) - Reading on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Recreation on Shabbat - Sechirut Reshut - Separating mixtures (Borer) - Squeezing fruits (Sechita) - Speaking on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Taking a cruise over Shabbat - Taking measurements on Shabbat - Techum - Transactions on Shabbat - Transportation on Shabbat - Going to and Staying in the Hospital on Shabbat - Wages on Shabbat (Sachar Shabbat) - Washing one’s body on Shabbat
Introduction to Melechet Machshevet - Marbeh Bshiurim - Plowing - Planting - Harvesting - Gathering - Threshing - Winnowing - Separating - Grinding - Sifting - Kneading - Baking and Cooking - Shearing - Laundering - Combing - Dyeing - Spinning - Mounting warp threads - Making two loops - Weaving - Unraveling fabric - Tying - Untying - Gluing, taping, or stapling - Ripping - Trapping - Slaughtering - Skinning - Tanning - Smoothing - Scoring - Cutting precisely - Writing - Erasing - Building - Demolishing - Completing a vessel - Extinguishing a flame - Kindling a fire - Carrying