Halacha for Sunday 25 Shevat 5781 February 7 2021

Is Snow Muktzeh on Shabbat?

Question: Does the prohibition of Muktzeh apply to snow that falls on Shabbat?

Answer: Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (end of Chapter 310) quotes the Shiboleh Ha’Leket who quotes Rav Tzemach Gaon who writes, “One may wash with or drink rainwater that fell on Shabbat although there were no clouds the day before.” This means that rain that falls on Shabbat is not Muktzeh and thus, rain which fell before the onset of Shabbat is certainly not Muktzeh.

This can likewise be inferred from the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (end of Chapter 338) that if one places a vessel in one’s home in a place where rain is leaking into the house, the vessel with the water inside. This implies that the prohibition of Muktzeh does not apply to rainwater.

(The root of the discussion whether or not Muktzeh applies to rainwater is due to the prohibition of “being born” or coming into existence on Shabbat, such as an egg laid on Shabbat, which cannot be eaten until Motza’ei Shabbat. We shall not delve into this law at length because halachically speaking, the Gemara (Eruvin 46a) rules that the prohibition of Muktzeh does not apply as the result of an object’s coming into existence on Shabbat. Nevertheless, some rule that water dripping from an air conditioner on Shabbat does retain a Muktzeh status. See Maran zt”l’s discussion in his Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat-Part 3, page 144.)

Hagaon Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l, late Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and the leading halachic authority of the generation for over fifty years, writes in his Responsa Har Tzvi (page 288), as follows: “On Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh Adar of the year 5717 (1957), there was heavy snowfall in Jerusalem. I was asked if the snow is Muktzeh and forbidden to move. Clearly, snow which fell on Erev Shabbat is not Muktzeh in and of itself as the Gemara in Masechet Shabbat states, ‘One may crush snow into water on Shabbat.’ Since snow is innately non-Muktzeh, the same law will apply if it falls on Shabbat and it shares the law of rain which falls on Shabbat and is not Muktzeh.”

Regarding shoveling snow with a shovel or any other tool (when there is an Eruv and carrying is permissible), when the ground under the snow is layered, such as asphalt or cement, although there are those who rule stringently and forbid moving the snow aside because this is a great bother on Shabbat, nevertheless, Maran zt”l (ibid.) rules that there is room for leniency in this regard, especially when one may slip and fall as a result of not shoveling. It is likewise permissible to spread salt on the snow so as to cause it to melt faster.

Summary: Snow which falls on Shabbat may be moved and may be used to drink. According to the letter of the law, one may shovel snow from the entrance to one’s home on Shabbat (as long as there is an Eruv in the area without which nothing may be carried).

Nevertheless, this applies only to moving snow on Shabbat. However, pressing snow into snowballs, snowmen, or igloos is similar to the forbidden work of building on Shabbat and several Poskim who prohibit this rule this way based on the wording of the Rambam that “gathering piece by piece and sticking them together until they become one unit is similar to building.” Thus, one should not act leniently regarding this issue.

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles There is a Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles throughout all eight nights of Chanukah (beginning from next Sunday night). The Sephardic custom is to light one set of Chanukah candles per house. The Ashkenazi custom, however, is that every member of the househ......

Read Halacha

A Guest On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah

Question: If one is staying as a guest at one’s parents’ or in-laws’ home for Shabbat Chanukah, where should one light Chanukah candles on Motza’ei Shabbat? Answer: Regarding a married individual who is staying as a guest at his father’s home, according to the Sephar......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Boarders, Guests, Soldiers, and Yeshiva Students Regarding Chanukah Candles

Question: If one will be away from home as a guest during Chanukah, how should one act regarding lighting Chanukah candles? Similarly, what is the law regarding a soldier who will be at his military base during Chanukah? Answer: If one is away from home during the holiday of Chanukah and stays a......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Married Children Staying with Their Parents and One Staying in a Hotel

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although one who has no one lighting on his behalf at home (for instance, because he has no family or because his family is with him) and is staying as a guest in a friend’s home on Chanukah should have been obligated to light candles in one&rsqu......

Read Halacha

Washing One’s Hands After Taking a Haircut

Question: Is one obligated to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) after taking a haircut? Answer: Our Sages list various situations where one must wash one’s hands. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) states: “The following activities require one to wash one’s hands: ......

Read Halacha

“Al Ha’Nissim”

Starting from the Arvit prayer on the first night of Chanukah (this year, 5782, starting from tonight, Sunday night) “Al Ha’Nissim” is added in the Amida in the middle of the Blessing of Thanksgiving (“Modim Anachnu Lach etc.) as it is printed in all Siddurim. Even if mos......

Read Halacha

The Meaning of Chanukah as it Applies to Us

We have already discussed the essence of the miracle of Chanukah which was that when the wicked Greeks threatened the Jewish nation, the sons of the Hashmonai family rose up against them and were victorious. They then chose a king for the Jewish nation from their priestly family (of Kohanim). Fro......

Read Halacha