shabbos candles

Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


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



Questions for the Week of Terumah


What is the halacha with regards to snapping a herbal sprig in order to smell the fragrance?

Since the purpose of breaking the sprig is not to fashion a kli, rather it is merely to break open the cells encasing the fragrance, it is permitted. One may not cut a hard branch or stem with an instrument, one may only break or rub it between ones fingers. Therefore, if one wishes to break a hadassim branch (myrtle), one may do so but one may not cut it with a knife or scissors. [1] One may not break such a branch in order to fashion a toothpick.

Is one permitted to take a hot shower on Shabbos?

When discussing the issue of taking hot showers on Shabbos, two factors must be taken into consideration. The first deals with use of a hot water system, which incidentally would not make a difference whether it is used for washing ones hands, washing dishes or a persons body. The second deals with washing ones body with hot water.

Opening the hot water faucet on Shabbos can easily involve an issur doraisso a biblical violation, depending on the type of hot water system. Without entering that complicated subject, the general halachic rule is that one must not open the hot water tap on Shabbos, regardless of which system is in operation.

The second issue is the focal point of our discussion. For argument sake, and for want of avoiding the issue of using a hot water system on Shabbos, we will talk about taking a hot bath in a bathtub that was filled with hot water before Shabbos.

Seemingly there can be nothing wrong. However the gemora Shabbos 39b says that one may not wash ones entire body with hot water on Shabbos, regardless of when the water was heated.

What is the reason for this prohibition?

Chazal instituted this gzeira because if one would be permitted to bathe in hot water, there is fear that one would heat water for that purpose, which of course involves an issur doraisso. [2]

Why do you say that one may not wash ones entire body?

Chazal only prohibited the washing of the greater part of ones body with water that was heated before Shabbos. One may wash ones face hands and feet (or limited areas of ones body for that matter) with water that was heated before Shabbos. [3] As stated, we are avoiding the issue of opening a hot water tap and are therefore referring to hot water in a bath or in a basin from before Shabbos. Water on the Shabbos hot-plate (obviously from before Shabbos) is considered heated before Shabbos, not on Shabbos.

Is the halacha different for a person who is ill?

A person who has a minor illness and would benefit from washing his body with hot water that was heated before Shabbos may do so. [4] The reason is because the entire prohibition is an issur drabanan and Chazal did not institute this gzeira when illness is involved.

What is the halacha with regards to water that was heated on Shabbos?

One may not wash even one limb with water that was heated on Shabbos. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl defines water heated on Shabbos as water that was actively placed on Shabbos in a place where it heated up. However, water that was placed on a hot-plate before Shabbos and heated up on Shabbos is called water heated before Shabbos.

May one warm ones wet body next to a fire?

First we must state that the water is not heated to the degree of yad soledes bo [5] because that would be cooking the water. Second, we must understand and analyze the problem. Is this heated water considered as water heated on Shabbos, thus prohibiting even the warming of ones wet hands, or is it not considered heated on Shabbos?

We find a machlokes regarding this matter.

The Rambam holds [6] that when one wishes to wash ones body with hot water one does not normally wet ones body and stand next to a fire, consequently he classifies the water as heated before Shabbos. Accordingly one may warm ones hands (provided that the water does not reach yad soledes bo) next to a fire but not ones wet body.

The Rosh [7] however classifies the water as heated on Shabbos and thus one may not warm even ones wet hands next to a fire on Shabbos. Accordingly one may not warm wet hands on the heating unit on Shabbos. The Biur Halacha adds that one should take care not to warm wet hands on a hot wall that radiates heat next to a heater.

How should one mix hot water and cold in order to wash ones hands or face?

One of the methods is to take hot water from an electric Shabbos urn or to use some water from the kettle that is on the Shabbos hot plate or blech. This water is heated before Shabbos and may be used for this purpose.

The problem is that this water is too hot to bathe with, and for practical reasons it must be mixed with cold water. Mixing hot and cold water can result in cooking the cold water and therefore must be mixed in a permitted manner.

Two methods are feasible and permitted:

1)                       Pour hot water from the urn etc. into a dry vessel and add cold water to cool it. Since the vessel the hot water is now in is called a kli sheini, one may add uncooked water to a kli sheini and it does not cook in that kli. [8]

2)                       Pour hot water from the urn etc. onto cold water making sure that only a small amount of hot water is poured thus ensuring that the mixture does not reach the temperature of yad soledes bo. [9]


[1] Siman 322:5 and MB 17.

[2] Siman 326:1 and MB 1.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Biur Halacha in the name of R Akiva Eiger.

[5] 40º-45ºC or 104º - 113ºF.

[6] As quoted by the Mechaber in siman 326:4.

[7] As quoted by the Mechaber in siman 326:5, and explained in MB 17.

[8] Siman 318:13. See also the SSK 1:53.

[9] See the SSK 1:51 based on the Biur Halacha in siman 318:12. Yad soledes bo: 40º-45ºC or 104º - 113ºF.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh

, if people curse you, do not respond rather be from the insulted. Many and large rewards are enumerated in Chazal for being the insulted and not the insulter. One must incorporate everything in ones power not to answer back, and words not spoken cannot harm.

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.