Using cold water

The law and custom:

The letter of the law[1]: Being that hot water [from the] springs of Tiberius are permitted for one to even dip his entire body inside of, as the decree was only made against water heated through fire [as explained in above Halacha], it thus goes without saying that [this allowance applies with] cold water.   

The custom today[2]: Due to that not everyone knows to beware in all the below mentioned matters, therefore the custom spread in these provinces to not bathe at all on Shabbos, not even with cold water even though there is no prohibition involved  from the letter of the law [in doing so].


Halachic matters which need to be followed when bathing in a river:[3]

Must fully dry oneself upon leaving: One who bathes in a river [on Shabbos] needs to dry his body very well when he comes up from the river so that no water remain on him and have him carry it 4 cubits in a karmelis as explained in chapter 301 [Halacha 61]. [See Q&A regarding if one may walk 4 cubits with water still in his beard! See Halacha 7 regarding if one is allowed to dry ones beard on Shabbos using a cloth!]

Not to swim and not to splash items away:  As well one may not swim in the river and may not cause any item to swim [flow], such as twigs which are floating on the water is forbidden for him to splash away in order to clear up the water [for him] as will be explained in chapter 339 [Halacha ???]. [As will be explained in 2E]

Not to squeeze ones hair: As well every bather needs to beware not to squeeze his hair. [As will be explained in more detail in Halacha 7-See There!]

The Reason: Now, although there is the prohibition of squeezing is not applicable with hair, being that hair is hard and does not actually absorb water inside it [and rather the water is absorbed between each individual hair], nevertheless it is Rabbinically forbidden [to squeeze it].


Summary-Bathing/Showering in cold water:

Does not contain even a Rabbinical prohibition[4], although the custom is to avoid doing so being that there are many other restriction involved which people are not aware of.

These restrictions are:

  1. To dry oneself so no water is carried outside [in a place without an Eiruv].
  2. Not to swim in the water.
  3. Not to splash away debris.

Not to squeeze ones hair.[5]



If one for whatever reason entered a river or sea on Shabbos may he walk to shore with the drops of water on him and then dry himself on the shore, or must he dry himself as soon as he lifts his body above water?[6]

One may not carry the water that is on him even while he is still prior to reaching shore. [Thus one is to either swim all the way to the shore having his body remain mainly underwater, or is to prepare a towel for himself on a rock or the like which is near the shoreline and dry himself there and then walk to the shore.]


May one walk 4 cubits in a public domain if there are still drops of water in ones beard?[7]

Some Poskim[8] rule that it must be dried prior to walking 4 cubits [or leaving the Mikveh to a public domain which does not have an Eiruv].

Many other Poskim[9] however rule that it is allowed to walk with the drops of water being that the drops are nullified to ones beard, as is the law regarding water absorbed in a cloth.


According to today’s custom may one nevertheless bathe part of his body in cold water?

The Ketzos Hashulchan [133/4] adds into the quote of the Halacha of Admur that the custom pertains to bathing one’s entire body in cold water, thus implying that minority of one’s body is allowed to be bathed even according to the custom.

Areas which contain hair: However regarding washing the areas of hair which contain the squeezing prohibition [See Halacha 7 Q&A there] it is implied from Ketzos Hashulchan footnote 8 [end] that one should only be lenient to do so in case of discomfort or pain, and so rules the SSH”K. However one may always wash his face despite the fact that water will inevitably get in his beard and be squeezed, as the Sages did not uphold their decree in such a case.[10]


According to today’s custom may one nevertheless immerse in a Mikveh on Shabbos?[11]

Yes, as will be explained in Halacha 5-See there!


May one who has just awoken from sleep pour cold water on his head to awaken him?[12]

If not doing so gives one pain then it is allowed [see Halacha 3] being that in any event from the letter of the law it is permitted.


May one take a cold shower on a very hot day?

If one is bothered by the heat or the perspiration then he is allowed to shower in cold water[13] [or warm water that was heated before Shabbos[14]]. [So too one may enter into a swimming pool if he is very hot-although may not swim[15]].[16]

However there are Poskim[17] which rule that one may not bathe in cold water even to cool off, and may only do so for the sake of a Mitzvah, such as to use a Mikveh.

[To shower in hot water heated from before Shabbos is only allowed if one is in pain, as will be explained in Halacha 3 Q&A there. As well as one must take care not to transgress the cooking prohibition through turning on the hot water tab, as explained in “The Laws of Cooking” Halacha 9 Q&A there.]

[1] 326/1

[2] 326/6

[3] 326/6

[4] 326/1

[5] 326/6

[6] Peri Megadim, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 7

[7] Piskeiy Teshuvos 301/22

[8] Steipler brought in Teshuvos Vehanhagos

[9] Teshuvos Vehanhagos, Eretz Tzevi, Kinyan Torah, Bris Olam, Beir Moshe, Divrei Malchiel, Divrei Moshe.

[10] Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8

[11] Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8

[12] Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8

[13] Ketzos Hashulchan  133 footnote 8 [towards end]; SSH”K 14/1; Igros Moshe 4/74; Beir Moshe 6/73

[14] As explained above in Halacha 1 that warm water has the same status as cold water. See above Halacha 1 Q&A there regarding the definition of warm water.

[15] See below “Swimming on Shabbos”. Ketzos Hashulchan 146 footnote 34/16

[16] Being that in any event from the letter of the law it is allowed, and it is only a custom to be stringent, and in a case of pain this stringency need not be kept. [Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8] 

[17] Minchas Yitzchak [6/32]

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