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Proper method of cleaning bread crumbs

Question:

  1. What is the most proper manner to clean bread crumbs respectfully and Halachically from a tablecloth or countertop?
  2. Does it matter how big the crumbs are or bigger pieces?
  3. Can one use a wet towel or sponge?
  4. What if the crumbs or pieces fall to the ground during a meal? Can they be swept with a broom?

Thank you.

Answer:

  1. When cleaning crumbs off a table after a meal etc. the crumbs can be gathered with a napkin.
  2. The reason is that although we should treat crumbs in a degrading manner, such a ruining them by stepping on them, it is permitted to discard them in a way that is not very degrading. According to a number of poskim because we are allowed to throw out crumbs that are smaller than a kzayis. Therefore cleaning them up with a wet sponge is fine. If the pieces or crumbs are larger than a kzayis, and they will no longer be eaten, they should still not be thrown directly into the garbage, rather into a napkin, bag, etc, to separate them from sitting with the rest of the garbage, in a degrading way. It should be noted that some poskim suggest, that even crumbs be placed into a bag etc. with the large pieces, because some poskim consider placing them directly in the garbage a big disgrace.
  3. You may use a wet towel or sponge.
  4. Crumbs that fell on to the floor during the meal may be swept with a broom. We should try to be careful not to step on them if possible, as stepping on crumbs, bread brings to poverty.

Best wishes

Sources:

O:CH 180-3,4, Magen Avrohom 10-3, M:B 180-10, Ben Ish Chai Pinchos 12, V’zos Habracha chap 2 pg. 16 in the name of R’ Y’ Fisher and R’ Eiyashiv, and R’ Sheinberg zt”l

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