Crushing and breaking ice/snow with one’s body

A. Crushing a piece of snow or ice with ones hands:[1]

Snow and hail and all matters of the like are forbidden to crush with ones hands, meaning to break them into little pieces, in order so they dissolve into water.

The reason for this is:  because doing so is similar to a [forbidden] action [as it appears like] he is creating these waters.  [See footnote for other reasons mentioned![2]]

 

B. Washing with icy or salty water/Crushing ice in a way that it melts directly into water:[3]

Washing with salt water: One must beware from rubbing ones hands with salt being that the salt dissolves on ones hands. However it is permitted to place water onto salt and wash ones hands with it even though that the salt dissolves there on its own, as long as one does not rub his hands.

Washing with icy water: In the winter one needs [to try] to not wash his hands at all with water that has snow or ice [even if one will not rub his hands[4]], as [congealed water] is more easily dissolved then is salt. If one does wash his hands with them he must beware to not press it against his hands in order so he not actively dissolve the ice.

Other Opinions: [However] other opinions say that so long as the melted [substance] is not individually recognizable and rather mixes into another substance, then even if one crushes it with ones hands it is permitted.

Therefore it is permitted to wash ones hands and rub them with water that contains snow and ice or salt even though he crushes and dissolves them with his hands, being that they mix into the water that is on his hands. Similarly it is permitted to even to crush with ones hands pieces of ice and snow in order so it melt and flow into a cup of wine or water.

Their reasoning is: because [in their view] the reason behind the prohibition to crush with one hands [pieces of snow and ice] is due to a decree that one may come to squeeze fruits which are designated to be juiced, being that snow and ice are designated [also] for their liquids, [thus here] since they are being mixed into other liquids [the Sages] did not make a decree as doing so is not similar to squeezing fruits designated to be juiced in which the juice squeezed is recognizable on its own.

The Final Ruling: One is to be stringent like the former opinion.    

 

C. Breaking ice in order to get to the water which is underneath it:[5] 

By a vessel: It is allowed to break ice [which is covering the water of a vessel] in order to draw water from underneath it as he is not creating water by doing so.

The reason that there is no destroying prohibition involved in this: [As well] there is no [destroying] prohibition involved at all in breaking the ice as anything that is detached [from the ground] which is not a vessel there is no prohibition at all involved in breaking and detaching it, as explained in chapter 314 [Halacha 12].

By a river: However by a river or a well since the ice is attached to the ground it is forbidden to break it. [See footnote for other Opinions[6]]

 

D. Breaking a piece off from ice:[7]

It was only forbidden [to crush the ice] when ones intention to crush it is so that it melts. However it is permitted to break a piece off from it even if through doing so a small amount of water will flow from it.

The reason for this is: because this [melting] is only a small amount and is not given any consideration, as well as that one does not have intention [to melt it] and it is not considered an inevitable occurrence and furthermore [because] the [melted water] will be going to waste.

The reason for why we do not decree against doing so: ([Since the melted ice is going to waste], it is thus not at all similar to squeezing fruits designated to be juiced in which the squeezed juices are not going to waste, and therefore there is no reason to decree [against breaking a piece of ice] because [one may come to then squeeze fruits for their juice]).

 

E. Urinating on snow:[8]

Due to the above [stringency in 1B] there is an opinion which [says that one should] beware from urinating into snow as a result of the urine the snow melts and this is like one is melting it with his hands which is forbidden according to the first opinion despite that the melted [snow] is not individually recognizable (and as well is going to waste).

Other Opinions: [However] there is an opinion which says that….. it is permitted to urinate onto snow.

Their reasoning is: because this is something which is not possible to avoid doing during the winter when the entire earth is filled with snow and therefore the Sages did not make any decree against doing so.

The Final Ruling: (It is proper to be stringent in an instance that one can easily avoid doing so.)     

 

F. Stepping on snow:[9]

However it is permitted to step on snow with ones feet being that it is possible that doing so will not melt and dissolve it, and thus even if it does [end up] melting and dissolving [since] it is done unintentionally it is [therefore] permitted being that it is not an inevitable occurrence.

Other Opinions: [However] there is an opinion which says that even if one’s shoes are wet in which case it will for certain melt the snow [that he steps on] [nevertheless] it is permitted.

Likewise, [this opinion says that] it is permitted to urinate onto snow.

Their reasoning is: because this is something which is not possible to avoid doing during the winter when the entire earth is filled with snow and therefore the Sages did not make any decree against doing so.

The Final Ruling: (It is proper to be stringent in an instance that one can easily avoid doing so.)     

 

General Summary

Breaking/crushing ice/snow with ones hand:

To melt it: Is forbidden to break ice into small pieces in order so that it melt[10], even inside of liquid.[11]

To use it: However to break off a piece of ice [to use] is permitted even though doing so will cause some of it to melt, being that one has no intention to melt it and only a small amount is melted.[12]

To get the water under it: To break the ice that has frozen over a liquid in a vessel is permitted, although to break ice on the ground is forbidden due to the “destroying” prohibition. [See footnote for other Opinions[13]]

To wash ones hands with it:[14] Is forbidden. Thus one is to avoid washing ones hands with icy water even if he will not rub his hands. If one does so he must beware not to press the ice against his hands in order not to actively dissolve it.

 

Urinating on snow/ice:[15]

It is proper to be stringent to avoid urinating on snow or ice in an instance that this can easily be avoided. If it is not easily avoidable then one may urinate on it even though it will melt the snow/ice in the process.


Stepping on snow/ice:[16]

With dry shoes is permitted.

With wet shoes it is proper to be stringent to avoid doing so in an instance that this can easily be avoided.

 

Q&A

May one crush a piece of ice that is in ones cup of water or juice?[17]

No

 

May one break the surface of ice of a drink that has begun to freeze?

Yes.

 

May one break pieces of ice from ones ice tray in order to place it in his drink?

Yes[18]

 

May one break the surface of ice that is over a very large barrel?[19]

If the barrel is large enough to hold 40 Seah then it has the same status as ice which is attached to the ground which may not be broken.


May an item which has frozen onto ones window sill or other area attached to ones house be removed?[20]

If the bottom of the item is frozen stuck to the window sill or other part of the house, then one may not remove the item from there on Shabbos, as this is similar to breaking the ice that covers a well, which is forbidden.

 

May one remove the sheets of ice that have frozen on ones windows?[21]

No, as this is similar to breaking ice that covers a well which is forbidden to be done.

 

May one break icicles from ones roof?

No. 

 

Is snow Muktzah?[22]

Snow retains the same law as rainwater, and is thus not Muktzah [if useable for eating drinking etc, as is the law by rainwater[23]].

 

May one sweep snow or ice away from his lawn?

If the snow or ice is attached to the ground then it is forbidden to break it due to the destroying prohibition.[24]

 

May one make snow balls and snow men?

It is forbidden to make snow balls on Shabbos.[25]

Children: Some Poskim[26] rule that by children below nine years old one may be lenient to allow them to make snow balls in an area where there is an Eiruv. If however there is no Eiruv then every child above Chinuch is forbidden to throw snowballs. Other Poskim[27] rule it is proper to refrain all children [which have reached the age of Chinuch] from making snow balls on Shabbos.

Snow man: In all cases it is forbidden for even children [above the age of Chinuch] to make snowmen and the like.[28]

 

May one spread salt on snow?[29]

It is permitted to spread salt on snow or ice in order to prevent people from slipping. If there is no need however then it should be avoided due to Maaras Ayin. [It however requires further analysis if this would be allowed according to Admur which holds there is a destroying prohibition by ice attached to the ground.]


[1] 320/16

[2] In 320/19 [brought in Halacha 1B], as well as 326/10 [brought in Halacha 4] an alternative reason of Admur is mentioned. Mainly that the decree against melting snow was not due to “Nolad” but rather due to a decree that if this were to be allowed then one may come to squeeze fruits which are designated to be juiced. Vetzaruch Iyun as to why this reason was omitted here, in 320/16, which is the Halacha dealing with the reason behind the prohibition. Perhaps this is because in truth Admur holds that the main reason behind the prohibition is “Nolad” and as he himself rules in both Halachas mentioned above that one is to be stringent like the opinion which holds of the “Nolad” reason.

[3] 320/19

[4] So is evident from Admur ibid, as washing with salt water is only permitted if one does not rub his hands and here Admur is saying we are more stringent by icy water and do not wash with it at all.

[5] 320/18

[6] So rules the Magen Avraham that ice attached to the ground has a building and destroying prohibition. However there are Poskim [Mamar Mordechaiy; Tosefes Shabbos; Elya Raba] which rule that there is never building or destroying prohibition by ice, and so rules the Mishneh Berura [320/36] if there is a Shabbos need.

[7] 320/17

[8] 320/20

[9] 320/20

[10] 320/16

[11] 320/19

[12] 320/17

[13] 320/18; So rules the Magen Avraham that ice attached to the ground has a building and destroying prohibition. However there are Poskim [Mamar Mordechaiy; Tosefes Shabbos; Elya Raba] which rule that there is never building or destroying prohibition by ice, and so rules the Mishneh Berura [320/36] if there is a Shabbos need.

[14] 320/19

[15] 320/20

[16] 320/20

[17] Ketzos Hashulchan 127/1

[18] In Ketzos Hashulchan 127 footnote 11 he brings from the Minchas Shabbos

[19] Ketzos Hashulchan 127 footnote 11

[20] Ketzos Hashulchan 127 footnote 11

[21] Ketzos Hashulchan 127 Footnote 12

[22] Beir Moshe 6/30; Har Tzevi Kuntrus of 39 Melachos “Soser”, and so is implied from other Poskim which deal with the question of making snowballs on Shabbos.

[23] Vetzaruch Iyun as for what is snow or rainwater used for in today’s time? Should it thus be considered Muktzah?

[24] This follows the ruling of Admur 320/18. However according to those Poskim which rule that doing so does not involve a destroying prohibition, then it is permitted to be done in a private domain. So rules Mishneh Halachos 4/45; Piskeiy Teshuvos 338/13

[25] Makor Chaim [Chavos Yair] 320/9; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 3 17/67; SSH”K 16/44 rules that doing so is forbidden due to the building prohibition. Beir Moshe 6/30 argues that doing so contains no building prohibition being that it does not contain the building characteristics and does not last at all. However he concludes that it is nevertheless forbidden being that doing so causes snow to melt, which is forbidden. Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol as from Admur [320/16 -18] which writes that the prohibition is only when one intends to use the melted water, while by a snow ball there is no intent for it to melt at all. Furthermore, the source of the Beir Moshe from 320/19 itself is dealing with crushing snow together within water when washing, and one thus certainly cares about having more melted water.

[26] Beir Moshe ibid

[27] Shabbos Kehalacha ibid. In footnote 167 he writes that in truth there seems to be no reason to prohibit making snow balls, however he nullifies his opinion in face of the Makor Chaim which explicitly chastises those that make lads that make snowballs on Shabbos and throw them at each other.

[28] Beir Moshe ibid; Shabbos Kehalacha ibid

[29] Beir Moshe 3/28

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