Is it a violation of halakah to pick your nose (unrefined act, possibly a violation of being a holy nation)? Would there be a difference in halakah if it were the sabbath (possible violation of smoothing)?


6 Answers 6


The Gemara (Shabbos 12a) says:

ת"ר אין פולין ברה"ר מפני הכבוד כיוצא בו אמר (רב) יהודה ואמרי לה רבי נחמיה אין עושין אפיקטויזין ברה"ר מפני הכבוד

Our Rabbis taught: One must not pick [lice from his garments] in the street out of decency. In like way R. Judah-others state, R. Nehemiah-said: One must not cause himself to vomit in the street, out of decency.

The trend of this passage suggests to me that the halacha would say that if it isn't common decency to pick one's nose in public, one shouldn't do so.


Shulchan Aruch HaRav 92:7 says that one should not touch the Tzoas Ha'Af during Tefila only through a handkerchief (Beged). This would indicate to me that there is no prohibition against picking a nose, since if was prohibited outright then why would it be mentioned as prohibited by Tefila.

Regarding Shabbos - I have heard that HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita has said it is permitted, however I have been unable to source it.

  • "why would it be mentioned as prohibited by Tefila": Because in many cases Tzoas Ha'Af moves outside the Af. This doesn't show anything about removing it from within the Af.
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2012 at 18:38
  • 1
    Also you should know that whether snot is considered Tzoa at all is an earlier machloket between the Rama (who says it is) and the Gra (who says if so you would have to move 4 amot away from it).
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2012 at 18:39
  • I heard from a secondary source that Rav Yosef said it on his radio show a number of years ago. Dec 17, 2012 at 19:18
  • "This would indicate to me that there is no prohibition against picking a nose, since if was prohibited outright then why would it be mentioned as prohibited by Tefila." See my answer. Based on that I would say 1) it is dependent on societal norms, and it may have been more accepted in the Shulchan Aruch HaRav's community; and 2) this is relevant even to us when one is praying privately.
    – Dov F
    Dec 18, 2012 at 2:04
  • 1
    I have heard that Hacham Ovadia Shalit"a says it is Asur on Shabbat... Dec 18, 2012 at 2:55

Rabbi Ari Enkin (in the article "Disgusting Behavior") rules not to pick your nose in public. (Though his source is Chagigah 5a, which says a person is judged for doing something disgusting by which his friend is disgusted, and it doesn't single out picking your nose.)

  • 1
    +1 I would think he is referring to Shmuel's point 'one who spits in the company of his friend, and the friend is disgusted by it'. I think in our society public picking is considered even more disgusting than public spitting.
    – user6591
    May 11, 2015 at 0:22

Perhaps this Medrash can help. The Medrash 67:9 says that whilst Rivka described her animosity for the Bnos Ches to Yitzchok she picked her nose and then flicked the away the booty in order to show her revulsion for them. The language of the Medrash sounds as if she did it by hand. It would seem therefore that this is an acceptable thing to do otherwise Rivka wouldnt have done it. One could say that she permitted herself to do it in order to persuade Yitzchok to send away Yaakov, but seeing that he was blind he wouldnt have been able to see.

  • 3
    Certainly an interesting midrash, though I doubt this can be used as a basis for a halachic proof, since אין לומדין מן האגדות
    – Michoel
    Dec 17, 2012 at 23:07
  • 2
    @Michoel agreed, but I thought people would be interested in seeing it anyway!!
    – Yehuda
    Dec 18, 2012 at 6:14
  • I think derech eretz can be learned from agados.
    – user6591
    May 11, 2015 at 0:25

Chacham Ovadia Yosef in Yabia Omer 5:30 writes that picking ones nose is a davar she'eino mitkavein for pulling out hairs and should be permissible, but we are stringent and forbid it when it's a p'sik reisha. He also brings a case of rubbing ones beard is also a p'sik reisha seemingly. He then brings a story of the Arizal who on shabbas touched his beard and left his hand there until the end of shabbas because of this issue of ripping out hairs. See there.

  • He left his hand in his beard for all of Shabbat?
    – Double AA
    Nov 1, 2013 at 0:31
  • kach hava, I don't have the sefer on hand but see it inside,it seems like the text of the sefer is not available online.Also of interest... hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14421&st=&pgnum=224
    – sam
    Nov 1, 2013 at 1:12
  • @DoubleAA Maybe a finger got caught inside some tangled hair or a hair snagged on a fingernail, and he thought any movement risked plucking the hair?
    – Fred
    Feb 17, 2015 at 21:55

The Gemara (Pesahim 112a), as Rashi explains, says that someone who regularly places his hands between his upper lip and his nostrils creates a ladder for Ruah Ra'ah to bring fear into him.

You must log in to answer this question.