Chapter 10: Bathing related hazards

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Chapter 10: Bathing related hazards

1. Health directives by bathing:[1] [Rambam, Achronim]

The frequency: It is proper for one to bathe in hot water once every seven days.

Not hungry or full: A person should not enter into a hot bath when he is very hungry or very satiated, rather, he has to wait until the food he ate has begun to digest.

Bathroom:[2] Prior to bathing, and after bathing, one is to check to see if he needs to use the bathroom.

The order of hot and cold water: One is the first bathe his body in hot water and then in warm water and then in cold water.[3] The hot water is not to be too hot that it burns the body, however very hot water may be used to bathe the head.[4] One should remain in the hot water until his body breaks into a sweat, and then  immediately he is to leave the water and shower in warm/cold water. The head should never be washed with cold or even warm water. In the winter, one should not bathe with cold water.[5]

Getting dressed:[6] When one leaves the bath, he is to get dressed right away and cover his head properly in order, so he does not catch a cold. This applies even in the summer months.

Resting and delaying eating:[7]  After a bath, one is to rest a little bit until the heat leaves his body. It is most healthy if he slightly sleeps afterwards. Only after resting from the heat is he to eat a meal.

Drinking:[8] One should not drink cold water after the bath, and certainly not in the bath. If he must drink, he should mix the water with wine or honey.

Oiling the body:[9] One who oils his body after bathing in the winter is doing a very proper thing.

2. One who does not bathe often:[10] [Talmud/Achronim]

If one does not bathe his body often, it can lead to boils.

3. A private Mikveh or bathhouse:[11] [Rav Yehuda Hachassid/Achronim]

A person should not make a bathhouse within his home, and if he does so his house will be destroyed, unless he makes it with intent that it be used by the public for bathing. [It is debatable as to what the exact definition is of a bathhouse regarding this warning, and as to whether this warning applies also to a Mikveh.[12] Practically, the custom today is to be lenient to allow having a private bathroom, and certainly the same would apply to a Mikveh.[13] By a Mikveh, the danger is traditionally circumvented of any worry by giving other individuals access and permission to use it. Meaning, that it is customary to give at least one more individual access to the Mikveh, which he will use either daily or periodically. This can include your own relatives such as your sons and the like. Some, however, are stringent to give three non-household members access to it.[14]]

4. Not to use a new bathhouse for 12 months:[15] [Talmud/Achronim]

One should not use a new bathhouse until after 12 months, due to worry of a pothole opening.

5. Not to bathe with water that you drank from:[16] [Achronim]

One is not to bathe in water that he drank from. Thus, one should not drink from the water in the bathtub or swimming pool.

6. Bathing restrictions:

A. Washing the feet one on top of the other:[17] [Talmud/Achronim]

One who washes his feet one on top of the other causes him to forget his Torah learning.

B. Standing in a steam room:[18] [Achronim]

One who stands in a steam room in order to sweat, can come to forget his Torah learning.

C. Drinking during bathing:[19] [Talmud]

A person who bathes in hot water and does not drink from it is similar to an oven which was heated from the outside and not on the inside. [This refers to drinking while in the bathhouse and not from the water of the bathhouse.[20]]

D. Entering a glass of oil to the bathhouse:[21] [Talmud]

One should not enter a glass jar of oil into a bathhouse due to danger.

E. Spitting in a bathhouse:[22] [Talmud]

One should spit in a bathhouse due to danger.

F. Bathing one’s head:[23] [Talmud]

One who does not bathe his head can cause blindness.

G. Hot water on skin:[24] [Talmud/Shulchan Aruch Harav]

One who is accustomed to pouring water which is extremely hot on one’s skin, this can lead to leprosy.

H. Getting a bath from a Gentile:[25] [Kabbalah/Achronim]

The Kabbalists are accustomed to not get bathed by a gentle.

7. After bathing hazards and restrictions:

A. Netilas Yadayim after leaving a bathhouse:[26] [Shulchan Aruch Harav/Achronim]

One who leaves a bathhouse must wash his hands one[27] time [immediately] afterwards. [This applies even if he entered the bathhouse and did not use it.[28] This applies even by today’s public bathhouses. However, many are lenient regarding private bathrooms that contain only a shower or bath and not a toilet.[29]]

B. Not to drink cold water after a hot bath or within a bathhouse:[30] [Rambam/Achronim]

When a person is very hot, he should not hurry to cool off his body in a sudden matter, but rather to do so gradually. Thus, one should not drink cold water upon leaving a bathhouse and certainly not to drink in the bathhouse. If one is very thirsty upon leaving the bathhouse and cannot hold himself back from drinking water, then he should mix wine or honey into the water and then drink it.[31]

C. Drying one’s feet prior to wearing shoes:[32] [Talmud/Shulchan Aruch Harav/Achronim]

Placing (socks[33] or) shoes on one’s feet which are wet from bathing can lead to blindness r“l. [Therefore one must dry his feet prior to putting on his socks or shoes as is the law regarding all matters which endanger a person.[34] [Nevertheless, the custom of the world, including Rabbis and other G-d fearing Jews[35], is not to be particular to dry the feet prior to wearing socks or shoes, and G-d nevertheless protects them from danger.[36] Thus, being that this is the custom, and G-d prevents the danger from occurring, one may even do so initially.[37]]


Is one to avoid drying his feet after Mikveh?[38]

It is proper to leave at least one area of one’s body wet from the Mikveh water in order so the body absorbs the holy water.[39] Based on the above one may let his feet remain wet and dry the remainder of his body in order to fulfill this directive.

D. Drying the face:[40] [Talmud/Shulchan Aruch]

[One must dry his face well after washing[41] as] not drying it well can lead to cracks in his skin or to boils. If one did not do so then his cure is to wash his face many times in water that had beets/spinach[42] [cooked[43]] in it.

8. Not to drink water you bathed in:[44] [Talmud/Achronim]

Drinking left over water from bathing causes a person to forget his Torah learning. [Some Poskim[45] leave in question whether this applies likewise to water and when used to wash his hands in the morning and for bread. However, from other Poskim[46] it is evident that this applies even to the water of Netilas Yadayim. If one pours some of the water out from the water which was used for bathing, then it no longer carries a danger of memory loss.[47]]


[1] Rambam Deios 4:16; Kitzur SHU”A 32:24                 

[2] Rambam Deios 4:16

[3] Rambam ibid; Shabbos 41a

[4] Rambam ibid

[5] Rambam ibid

[6] Rambam Deios 4:17; Kitzur ibid

[7] Rambam Deios 4:17; Kitzur ibid

[8] Rambam Deios 4:17; Kitzur 32:17

[9] Rambam Deios 4:17

[10] Nedarim 81; Aruch Hashulchan 260:4; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 65

[11] Tzavaas Rav Yehuda Hachassid 21; Shivim Temarim ibid; Beis Lechem Yehuda Y.D. 179:5; Igros Kodesh Rebbe Maharash p. 45; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 221 and footnotes 1-3 in length

[12] Poskim who rule it does not apply to a Mikveh: Implication of Shivim Temarim ibid who says a public bathhouse is permitted because its considered a Mitzva, and certainly this would apply to an actual Mikveh which its entire essence is for the sake of a Mitzvah; Implication of Damesek Eliezer on Tzavah ibid; Implication of Chasam Sofer O.C. 18 that so was done by the family of the Gr”a; Sefer Zichron Lemoshe Michtav 22:3 that the Chasam Sofer had a Mikveh in his home; Implication of letter of Rebbe Maharash ibid due to all the reasons mentioned above; Beis Yisrael 175 that it only applies to a women’s Mikveh and that many Tzadikim built Mikvahs in their home and there is nothing to worry against building a men’s mikveh at home; Divrei Yisrael 9; Yad Efraim on Tzavah ibid in name of a number of Tzadikim and that if even two people use it, it is considered a public Mikveh; Mishpatecha Leyaakov Y.D. 52:3 that the Rebbe of Tzanz had a private Mikveh at home; Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:97; Cheshev Haeiphod 2:5; Betzel Hachochmah 2:34; Ohel Yissachar 2; Tzitz Eliezer 11:57; Mishneh Halachos 5:145; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:849; Koveitz Mibeis Levi Y.D. p. 115; Taharas Yom Tov 326 that it applies to a private women’s Mikveh; Shut Hamaor 1:81; Shaareiy Chaim 1:103; Koveitz Beis Aaron Veyisrael 38:56 that the Chazon Ish had a Mikveh in his home

Poskim who suggest having other people immerse in the Mikveh: Cheshev Haeiphod ibid; Neharos Eison 37 that so suggested Rav Wozner; Shaareiy Chaim 1:103 [three non-family members]; Rav Eli Landau responded to us that the explicit custom was to allow some designated people to also use the Mikveh, irrelevant of how many.

The debate: The above statement can be interpreted to negate the making of a private home Mikveh. However, aside from the general question of whether all of the warnings of Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid are relevant for all Jewry or were only given for his own descendants, it is unclear as to his intent in the term “bathhouse.” Does it refer to the typical bathhouses of back in the day which were in essence a spa room that contained a very hot body of water, such as a hot Jacuzzi, and a sauna or steam room, or does it refer to any room used for showering or bathing? Must it consist of the same definition of a bathhouse in the times of the Talmud, in which it contained three rooms in which one was used for entrance, the second for dressing and undressing, the third for bathing, as is found in all public Mikveh’s today. Furthermore, does it even at all refer to a Mikveh, which is used for the purpose of a Mitzvah, and can contain cold or warm water versus hot water? Also, how does one make sense of this warning with the fact that today every single home is built with a private bathroom? Indeed, the Poskim deal with these questions, and offer various solutions and explanations of the warning. Some Poskim rule that it only applies to an actual spa room, and not to a bathing room and certainly not to a Mikveh. Other Poskim suggest that although it applies to any bathing room, it does not apply to a Mikveh, which is used for the purpose of a Mitzvah. Other Poskim rule it only refers to a woman’s Mikveh to be used by one’s wife, as it may not be built properly. Other Poskim rule it only applies if one’s sleeping quarters is in the same room as the bathing room. The Rebbe Maharash in a letter gives various suggestions to the above dilemma including, 1) The warning does not apply to all the Jewish people but only to his descendants [although he later rejects this regarding this warning]. 2) It only applies to a shower and not to a bath or Mikveh in which the water remains stationary, and one sits his body inside of the water. 3) It only applies to a bathhouse of Talmudic times in which there were three rooms, as explained above. 4) It only applies to what is clearly and definitively defined as a Merchatz, and not to anything else under doubt. 5) It only applies to a bathing room that one cannot learn Torah in due to the great amount of perspiration. [This would negate an issue with a cold or warm Mikveh]. 6) It only applies to a fully equipped bathhouse with all the enmities [i.e. a spa room]. [See Igros Kodesh Maharash ibid]

[13] Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:97; Mishpatecha Leyaakov Y.D. 52:3; Mikadshei Hashem; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:849; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 221:2

Practically, based on the previous footnote, the Poskim conclude that there is no issue whatsoever with building a private Mikvah at home, and if we are lenient to have a private bathing room at home, then all the more so should we be lenient regarding a Mikveh, and so was done by the Gedolei Haposkim and Chassidic Rebbe’s who built a private Mikveh at home. Thus, we concluded above that there is no issue with doing so whatsoever. Nonetheless, traditionally it is accustomed to give access to at least one other person to use the Mikveh in order so it be defined as a public Mikveh, and circumvent the warning under all circumstances. Even this, however, does not make sense to me, as there is much more of an argument to require this to be done to a private bathing room that every single home today includes, much more than to a Mikveh and if people are not careful regarding a bathing room to give it access to other people than why should they be careful regarding a Mikveh. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[14] See Cheshev Haeiphod ibid; Neharos Eison 37 that so suggested Rav Wozner; Shaareiy Chaim 1:103 [three non-family members]; Rav Eli Landau responded to us that the explicit custom was to allow some designated people to also use the Mikveh, irrelevant of how many.

[15] Pesachim 112b; Kaf Hachaim Y.D. 116:96

[16] Teshuvos Hageonim in Sefer Neharos Damesek 276; Chupas Eliyahu Raba  6; Shemiras Hanefesh 317; Kaf Hachaim 116:206; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 61

[17] Horiyos 13b; Aruch Hashulchan 2:5; Gilyon Maharsha Y.D. 246:22; Ben Ish Chaiy Pinchas 2:17; Kaf Hachaim O.C. 260:1; Y.D. 116:168; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 62

[18] Chupas Eliyahu 6; Orchos Chaim 25; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 63

[19] Shabbos 41a; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 64 footnote 1

[20] Hagahos Yaavetz ibid

[21] Derech Eretz Rabah 10; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 64

[22] Derech Eretz Rabah 10; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 64

[23] Nedarim 81a; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 65:1

[24] Admur Hilchos Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 9; Pesachim 112b; Rashi and Rashbam Pesachim ibid; See Rambam Deios 4:16; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 64:2                                                                                                                                                                                            

[25] Mishnas Chassidim 5:2; Yesod Veshoresh Havoda n Shemini 1; Yifei Laleiv 3 Y.D. 156; Darkei Teshuvah 156:4; Kaf Hachaim 260:13; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 67 footnote 3

[26] Admur Kama 4:18; See Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 54:23 footnote 29

[27] Admur ibid; Elya Raba 4:12; Soles Belula 4:14; Machazik Bracha 4:6 in name of Makor Chaim [student of Rav Chaim Vital]; Seder Hayom brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:61; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 4:2

Other Opinions: Olas Tamid writes that possibly one is required to pour three times on his hand just like is required upon awakening in the morning. So rules also: Shlah Shaar Haosiyos 9; Lev Chaim 1:63; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 7:26; Ruach Chaim 4:3; Chesed Lealafim brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:61. Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 17-is blessed; Kaf Hachaim 4:61-is holy act.

[28] M”B 4:40; Amudei Hashulchan 2:14 brought in Kaf Hachaim 4:65; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19; As the evil spirit resides on one’s hands upon entering a bathhouse. [M”B ibid]

[29] Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:19; Tzitz Eliezer 7:5; Betzel Hachochmah 2:7; Being that the hot water does not constantly remain in the room [as it is in pipes] and there is thus not as much vapor or contamination.

[30] Rambam Deios 4; Shemiras Hanefesh 306; Kaf Hachaim 116:205

[31] Rambam Deios 4:17; Kaf Hachaim 116:205

[32]  Admur Hilchos Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 9 “One who wears shoes while his feet are still wet from the bathing water (in those days when they would wear shoes over bare feet [without socks] and the same applies [when wearing] our socks [with wet feat]) [then it can bring one to become blind r“l].”; Pesachim 111b; Rashi and Rashbam Pesachim ibid; Ben Ish Chaiy Pinchas 2:11; Aruch Hashulchan 260:4; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 65:3

[33] Admur parentheses in original. This teaches us that even socks may not be placed on wet feet.

Other Opinions: There are opinions [Likkutei Maharich Seder Hanhagos Erev Shabbos] which hold that there is no need to dry the feet prior to placing socks. Furthermore, if one places on socks then he may even place his shoes on with his covered wet feet. Nevertheless, from Admur ibid which adds socks in parentheses it is understood that the hazard applies even with socks. [Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 3:13]

[34] Ketzos Hashulchan 2:10

[35] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 3:13

[36] Machatzis Hashekel 260:1; brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 73 footnote 1; Kaf Hachaim 260:3

[37] Based on Teshuvah of Tzemach Tzedek, elaborated on in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 3:13.

[38] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1:131

[39] See Kaf Hachaim 260:5 in name of Arizal that one is to not dry off the Mikvah water on Erev Shabbos. The Rebbe ibid extends this custom as well to the daily immersion.

[40] Admur Kama 4:20; Michaber 4:20; Shabbos 133b; See Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 54:25; 64

[41] Ketzos Hashulchan 2:10

[42] Lit. Tradin. This is also called silka as mentioned in Hilchos Rosh Hashana 583. It is defined as either spinach or beets. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[43] So is implied from Rashi Brachos 39a “Meiy Silka”

[44] Horiyos 13b; Hagahos Rebbe Akiva Eiger 2:3; Aruch Hashulchan 2:5; Ben Ish Chaiy Pinchas 2:17; Kaf Hachaim O.C. 157:28; Y.D. 116:168; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 49:1

[45] Hagahos Yaavetz; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 49:2

[46] Sefer Zikaron 12; Teshuvos Hageonim 276

[47] Chazon Ish, brought in Sefer Zikaron 2:12; Shulchan Chaiy 76; Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 49:3

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