Halacha for Thursday 28 Sivan 5784 July 4 2024

Bathing in Cold Water on Shabbat

In the previous Halacha we have established that one may not wash one’s entire body or a majority of one’s body with hot water on Shabbat. It is likewise forbidden to wash one’s entire body with water heated before the onset of Shabbat or water heated by a solar water heater. The reason for this prohibition is based on a rabbinic enactment banning this, for when our Sages saw the bathhouse attendants transgressing prohibitions of Shabbat desecration in order to heat the water of the bathhouse, they prohibited bathing in hot water on Shabbat. Nevertheless, washing a minority of one’s body on Shabbat, such as one’s face, hands, and feet, is permissible provided that the water was heated in a permissible manner, such as before the onset of Shabbat or if it was heated by a solar water heater.

Regarding washing one’s entire body with cold water, according to Maran Rabbeinu Yosef Karo zt”l, there is no prohibition to do so as long as one is careful not to squeeze one’s wet hair or the towel which can sometimes constitute the prohibition of squeezing on Shabbat. Nevertheless, the Ashkenazi custom is to act stringently and to prohibit washing one’s body even with cold water on Shabbat because of the concern that this will result in the prohibition of squeezing on Shabbat among other reasons. However, in a situation of great discomfort or suffering, there is room for leniency even according to the Ashkenazi custom, for some say that the Sages did enact the prohibition of washing oneself on Shabbat in situations of great discomfort. Furthermore, others say that the Sages only enacted the prohibition of washing one’s body on Shabbat in bathhouses that existed in their times where people would immerse their entire body in a large vessel, or a ditch filled with water. However, regarding the bathrooms common in today’s households, especially since we do not immerse ourselves in the water and merely pour water on our bodies (by showering), there is no prohibition to do so. Thus, halachically speaking, there is room for leniency in situations of great discomfort even according to the Ashkenazi custom.

Although there is a prohibition to wash one’s entire body with hot water and this prohibition extends to washing one’s body with lukewarm water as well, nevertheless, during the winter when the water in the house is extremely cold, it is permissible to add some water heated before the onset of Shabbat or by means of a solar water heater to the cold water in a way that the heat of the water cannot be felt and only succeeds in making the cold water lose some of its chill. However, to bring the water to a point where it is lukewarm and then to wash one’s body with them is forbidden. (However, in the United States where the gas boiler is the common form of water heater as opposed to Israel where the solar heater is more common, it is prohibited to open the hot water faucet at all on Shabbat at all because of the prohibition of cooking the cold water which will immediately enter the tank as we shall discuss further in the following Halacha. The only permissible way to carry out the above idea is by using some hot water from a Shabbat urn or from a kettle on the Shabbat hotplate.) Regarding showering with hot water on Yom Tov, since this Halacha is not so pertinent at this time, let us just point out briefly that according to the rulings of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, one may wash one’s entire body with hot water on Yom Tov in one’s household shower provided that the water was not heated in a forbidden manner.

Nevertheless, we must point out that squeezing hair is forbidden on Shabbat (and Yom Tov). One must therefore take care not to rub in and lather the shampoo into one’s head on Shabbat as one usually would, for this constitutes the prohibition of squeezing the water out of one’s hair with the shampoo and transferring it to a different area of one’s head.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Parashat Ki Tetze

Gathered from the teachings of Maran Rebbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztzvk”l (from the years 5744-5772) (written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a) (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) Ellul is the Time to Engage in Battle Against the Yetzer Hara, ......

Read Halacha

Eating Cake on Shabbat Morning

Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of All Our Dear Soldiers May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls......

Read Halacha

 The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing

Our Sages teach us (Eruvin 40b) that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing a new fruit that renews once a year. Even if one sees this fruit in the hands of another person or on the tree, one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. Nevertheless, the P......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Blood Found in Eggs

Blood in Eggs Blood found in eggs is forbidden for consumption, for this blood indicates the beginning of the embryotic development of the chick and this chick has the halachic status of “fowl” whose blood is forbidden for consumption by Torah law; thus, the opinion of the Rosh and Tosa......

Read Halacha

Parashat Terumah

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Difference Between Moshe and Betzalel [Understanding Why Betzalel Was Able to Make the Menorah, Whilst Moshe Couldn’t] This Sh......

Read Halacha

The Proper Method for Reciting Blessings

During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings. Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the I......

Read Halacha

The Scent of Lemon

Question: If one smells the pleasant scent of a lemon, which blessing should one recite? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 43b) states: “Mor Zutra said: One who smells the fragrance of an Etrog  (citron), or a quince recites the blessing of ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’......

Read Halacha

Parashat Vayechi

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Power of a Good Word In the weekly Parashah, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons and blessed them before he passed away, as the Torah sta......

Read Halacha