Regarding a psik reisha, my earlier question focused on whether the resultant action is judged according to a standard, but I am also unclear about what determines the "inevitable" nature of the outcome.

If you cut the head off of a chicken, it will most probably die. If you drag a heavy bench through soft ground, it will make a furrow. But through less hard ground, the act might not lead to an inevitable furrowing melacha.

How does one determine the line between "it will" and "it might not"?

To wit, I received an email with halachot (Dirshu, 8 Nisan) which reads

A person may not comb his hair on Shabbos because it is a psik reisha (inevitable) that hair will be removed. It is even forbidden to use a comb to move hairs into place without really combing them, because hairs also get pulled out that way.

The followup halacha reads

A soft brush may be used on Shabbos if it is not a psik reisha that hair will be removed. If it is inevitable that hairs will be removed by brushing, the brush should not be used for regular brushing but may be used to align the hair.

(Bold added)

I comb my hair with a comb every day and have precious little hair left so I stay very conscious every thing that gets pulled out, and my comb doesn't do the damage. How was it determined that the comb is a priori invalid -- what measure of inevitability was satisfied? Is it a personal standard (may I use a comb whereas someone else can't) or is universally derived and applied?

  • 1
    The Rivash about combing is saying that while any particular stroke through your hair won't for sure pull out a hair, the multiple strokes needed to comb your hair will certainly remove at least one hair. If that doesn't apply to your head and brush then so be it. It is a bit of a Chiddush. The Gemara talks about a Nazir combing his hair and if Psik Reishei applies so that'll be your primary source
    – Double AA
    Mar 26, 2018 at 20:18
  • halevai my hair needed multiple strokes...
    – rosends
    Mar 26, 2018 at 21:06
  • psik raisho is a very difficult subject. Rashi in zevochim 91 says for instance if one can do it without a psik raisho then one can do it with.
    – patient
    Mar 27, 2018 at 13:42


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