chiddush logo

Halachot relating winter.

Written by שי טחן, 22/1/2024

Halachot relating winter.

Rabbi Shay Tahan


Is snow Muktse?

Cleaning snow is generally permitted on Shabbat. According to most opinions, snow is not considered muktse (set aside) because it is likened to rain that falls on Shabbat, which is also not considered muktse. This is because the water was in the clouds before Shabbat, thus, it is not something that wasn't already part of the world. (אשל אברהם בוטשאשט מהדור״ת סי’ שיב, שש״כ עמוד רמב)

Although snow is not muktse, forming a snowman or snowball is prohibited due to the violation of Bone (building), as the Rambam (פ״ז מהלכות שבת ה״ו) states that attaching small pieces together to form one thing is forbidden. Some also argue there is a prohibition of Dash (squeezing) as water may squeeze out when pressed together.


Is Cleaning snow on Shabbat permitted?

Snow cleaning, whether by shoveling or salting, is permitted on Shabbat. Even those who restrict melting ice on Shabbat allow it in places where people might slip on the snow or ice. (מחזה אליהו ח״א סימן סז-סח)


Is there a halachic obligation to remove snow and ice to prevent anyone from slipping?

The Torah instructs us to eliminate hazards from our property, as evident from the obligation placed on one with a pit in his property to remove dangerous conditions and provide compensation for damages in case of injury.

Although one is not responsible for a pit or potential damage in the public domain or at someone else's place, the laws of digging a pit obligate one to pay for damages if they were the one digging it and failed to cover it properly. However, even if one didn't dig the pit in their own domain, they must ensure that the pit is covered. The Bach uses rain as an example of such a pit that he didn't dig, and similarly, ice and snow creates a household obligation to eliminate the danger and compensate for injuries if they occur (חו״מ סימן תי ס״ד).



Can we dip utensils in the snow?

One who can't take his utensils to be dipped properly in the mikveh is allowed to dip them in snow (פתחי תשובה יו״ד סימן קכ סק״ד בשם החכמ״א), ensuring that the entire utensil is immersed and that the snow touches every part of it(חזו״א קלג, אות ג’) . This leniency applies only to glass utensils, which are subject to a Rabbinic requirement, or porcelain, which many hold doesn't require immersion, making the snow dipping a stringency. However, metal utensils, being a Torah obligation, may not be dipped in the snow.



Turning on the heat.

If, for some reason, the heat stops working on Shabbat or if it's not sufficiently warm in the house, one cannot turn it on themselves as it involves igniting the boiler, constituting a Shabbat violation. However, in extremely cold conditions (Ohr L'tzion suggests freezing point at 32 Fahrenheit), one may ask a non-Jew to turn on the heat. If there are small children or elderly individuals in the house, it is permitted to ask the non-Jew even if the temperature is not as cold, as these age groups are more susceptible to getting sick. (שולחן ערוך סימן רעו ס״ה)


Opening and closing windows and doors.

One may open and close windows and doors even if it might cause a change in the house temperature, potentially triggering the heating system. There are various reasons to permit this action, including the indirect nature of the effect (grama) and uncertainty about whether the heat will actually turn on (meaning it’s not psik reisha). Additionally, the person opening the door may not have the intention for the heating system to activate but rather intends to enter or exit the house (eino mitkaven).


Opening the radiator steam valve.

One should avoid opening the steam valve on Shabbat, as there is water in the radiator that heats when the valve is opened. While solid food that was pre-cooked is permitted, heating liquid on Shabbat is not allowed and should be avoided. This prohibition is specific to Shabbat, but on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook as cooking is allowed on Yom Tov.


Hanging the coat near the radiator.

In the event of getting wet from rain, one may not place their wet coat near the radiator because the drops on the coat may heat and get cooked. This is certainly prohibited for those who place it by the radiator with the intent for the coat to get dried, but even those who don't should be careful as it is considered psik reisha. (שולחן ערוך סימן שא סעיף מו)


Hanging the coat to get dry.

Chazal restricted us from hanging wet clothing on Shabbat because it appears as if we washed them that day (שולחן ערוך סימן שא סעיף מה). Some even restrict hanging dry clothing, as people seeing it can't tell if it's wet or not from far(בא״ח ויחי אות א’). Still, some permit hanging the coat since the norm is not to wash a coat but rather, when it's dirty, people usually send it to dry clean, so one who sees it understands it wasn't washed (מנוחת אהבה ח״ב עמוד תכד).




To dedicate this Chiddush (Free!) Leiluy Nishmas,Refuah Sheleimah, Hatzlacha, click here
Agree? Disagree? Want to add anything? Comment on the chiddush!
Discussions - Answers and Comments (0)
This chiddush has not been commented on yet