Is there an Inyan of pregnant women walking over cut nails ex: a nail salon? Also, can I just vacuum up the cut nails from the floor?

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    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 14:37
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    Can't cite a source and don't know how serious it is, but I've heard it's because a pregnant woman might mistake the nail(s) for a scorpion and then have a panic-induced miscarriage. Presumably this wouldn't be a problem if one is not accustomed to having such a concern or if one is very far along in the pregnancy and due any minute. Having said that, I make a practice of wrapping up the cut nails in two tissues and flushing the wrapped bundle down the toilet, as was suggested to me a very long time ago.
    – Seth J
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 19:25
  • @SethJ: One problem with this explanation. The Talmud in Moed Katan 18A - hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=12&daf=18&format=pdf - says that the issue only applies if one leaves them where they dropped when they were cup. If one moves them, there is no longer an issue. (The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 260:4 brings this as well - chabadlibrary.org/books/adhaz/sh/sh2/1/260/4.htm). If the problem is as you said, what difference would it make whether or not they were moved. It would only matter if the woman could step on them or not.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:26
  • @Menachem, off the top of my head? Maybe that suffices for the Takanah because someone conscientious enough to move them would be conscientious enough to let someone walking over them know that they are nails? Again, I don't know the source of the idea.
    – Seth J
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:47
  • @SethJ: What if he's no longer there? It doesn't seem to indicate anywhere that the danger dissipates once he leaves. It would be interesting to see the source for that idea.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:54

2 Answers 2


The Mishna Beroura (260, 6) quotes Gemara Nidda (17a) disapproving someone who would throw nails on the highway after cutting them.

Indeed, a pregnant woman could step on them and lose her child.

Gemara's conclusion :

  • the one who burns his nails is a 'hassid
  • the one who buries them is a tzaddik
  • the one who throws them is a racha'

The practical advice is to throw them in the toilets because with modern ones it's considered as being buried.

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    Do people in between the gemara and the mishna berura quote this practice approvingly as well?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 19:22

Yes, Zahava, the gemara in Moed Katan 18 says that walking over nails can cause a woman to miscarry. One reason given (Be'er Hetiv/Tola'as Ya'akov) is because Chava caused the loss of "full-body nails". As a consequence, women are put in danger by the nails which remained on the fingers and toes.

The gemara gives options of how to dispose of them:

  • You can dispose of them into a place where they will not be walked on. This is referred to in the gemara as "burying them". Also, the gemara has R' Yochanan throwing them in the study hall, since women don't go there.
  • A better option is to destroy them in a way that there is no chance of them doing any more damage. This is referred to in the gemara as "burning them".
  • Transfering the nails into a different "area" than they were originally also takes care of the issue. The case in the gemara was from inside to outside.

Vacuuming them would certainly fulfil the 2nd option. I'm not sure how far the 3rd idea goes and whether it would apply from one area to another area in the same salon.

  • See the MB 260:6 - starting hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14171&pgnum=64 and continuing hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14171&pgnum=65 . He brings the Perisha who says that it is enough to move it from the place it fell, then brings the Elyeh Rabbah who says that it may only be sufficient if it leaves the room it fell in.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:31
  • @Menachem, Y"K. Unfortunately, there is still no hachra'a.
    – YDK
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 3:31
  • Yes, but it is stronger to say I don't know because different Rabbis have different opinions and there isn't a clear resolution, than to say I'm not sure how far the idea goes.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 5:46
  • @Menachem, true. I was referring to the question still not being answered practically.
    – YDK
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:15
  • rabbi elephant from ou daf yomi on that gemoro explains the another reason that cause a woman to miscarry and explains "walking over" as seeing and that when she sees she gets disgusted,
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 3:24

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