shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Bamidbar

May one heat water for bathing on Yom Tov?

Bathing on Yom Tov involves two issues. The first and major issue deals with heating water to wash ones body or at least parts of ones body.

The second is bathing on Yom Tov and how it differs from Shabbos.

Heating Water

The Shulchan Aruch teaches us [1] that it is permitted to heat water on Yom Tov to wash face, hands and legs but not the entire body.

Why the distinction?

 Yom Tov is unique in a way that one may perform melachos such as cooking, carrying without an eiruv etc. but still limited. For example, one may cook on Yom Tov for YT but not for after YT. One may cook for Jews but not for gentiles.

A central rule applying to melachos says that the melocho may be performed when the majority requires it . Something required by the minority or for finicky people is unnecessary and a melocho may not be performed.

Based on this premise, Chazal tell us that washing face, hands and legs is a necessity for most people and washing the entire body is not. [2] Hence heating water, which involves the melachos of Bishul cooking and Havarah lighting a fire, may be done for face, hands and legs but not for the entire body.

Can this definition change over the years?

It would seem that this definition should change according to the majoritys needs but this is difficult to ascertain. Consequently the halacha remains unchanged. [3]

Besides, one may not turn on a boiler on YT, making it quite impractical to heat sufficient water to wash ones entire body.

What about heating water to bathe a baby?

The same rule applies and one may not heat water to wash the entire body. However, since it is sometimes necessary to bathe the entire babys body [4] one may utilize a rule called additional amounts.

When one is heating water for drinking or washing dishes (an urn on the gas range or adding water to the electric kettle) one may add more than necessary and use the additional water for the babys body.

HOWEVER utmost caution must be used when doing this, because there is a right way and a wrong way.

The correct way is to fill the utensil with more water then necessary before placing it on the fire. It is totally forbidden to add more water (for the babys body) once the utensil is on the fire. [5] Adding water to an electric urn is more complicated because one usually uses a cup or jug, and one may add that which is necessary for face, hands and legs and drinking but one may not use the jug solely for the entire body.

What are the laws related to bathing on Yom Tov?

In previous shiurim we learned that one may not bathe on Shabbos, save for face, hands and legs, with water heated before Shabbos.

We find a machlokes haposkim as to whether bathing on YT is different than Shabbos. The Rif and Rambam hold that one may bathe ones entire body on YT albeit not in a bathhouse. The Mechaber rules accordingly. [6] The Rosh argues [7] and holds that this is forbidden, and the Rama rules accordingly. However, all agree that one may wash ones entire body limb by limb. [8]

The Mishna Berura concludes that although the majority of the poskim rule in accordance with the first opinion, the custom is to follow the stringent opinion and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that one must not deviate from this custom. [9]

The bottom line is one may use hot water (that was heated before YT) on YT to bathe ones entire body limb by limb.

Do similar rules apply to using soaps and sponges?

YT and Shabbos share the same rules, and just as using hard soaps and sponges is forbidden on Shabbos, so too it is forbidden on YT. Accordingly, when bathing in a permitted manner on YT, one should use liquid soap (details in the previous shiur) and without a sponge or facecloth.

Are there leniencies on Yom Tov Sheini?

Generally the second day Yom Tov shares the same rules as first day YT, in which case one may not bathe in the normal manner, as stated above.

And yet there are manners to relieve stickiness etc. on both days of Y"T. One may bathe in cold or lukewarm water when necessary, [10] or in hot water limb by limb when the water is heated in a permitted manner.

[1] Simon 511:2.

[2] See MB simon 511:9.

[3] See SSK 14:7.

[4] Rama simon 511:2 and MB 12.

[5] Rama ibid and MB 14.

[6] Simon 511:2.

[7] Rama simon 511:2.

[8] Elya Raba cited in Shaar Hatsiun 511:21.

[9] MB simon 511:18.

[10] See previous shiur in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl.


Food for Thought

May one spray insect repellant into the air on Shabbos?

What may I do to a mosquito buzzing around my ears?

A lizard is in the room and the children are scared, what are my options?

Ants are crawling on the counter, what are my options?

Vort on the Parsha

Males over 20 years of age were counted whereas the Leviim were counted from 1 month old. Rav Sternbuch explains that since the Leviim served a holy position in the Beis HaMikdash their upbringing had to be holy from the start. Correct education in the early years of a child is crucial to ensure total devotion to Hashem.

He adds that this is not exclusive to Leviim. Anyone wishing to raise children to serve Hashem must do his utmost to instill Fear and Love of Heaven from an early age.

For a printed version, click here.



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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.