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Chapter 86:7
Bathing on Shabbos

7. It is forbidden, on Shabbos, to bathe in water that one would usually only enter for medicinal purposes ("Refuah"), for example, noxious or foul water, because it is obvious that one is doing so for the purpose of healing (1).

When does this apply? When one lingers in it (2). If one does not linger, it is permitted, for it appears that [one is immersing] to merely cool off. (3). In hot springs like those of Tiberias, if, in general, people only immerse in them for medicinal purposes, it is forbidden to immerse in them on Shabbos, even when one does not linger (4).


(1) The Sages prohibited doing anything for healing purposes on Shabbos, except where absolutely essential, because they were concerned that one may come to grind substances for use as medicine; "grinding" ("Tochen") is one of the 39 Avos Melachos (prototype prohibited activity - see Halacha Yomi 80:15, note (1)).

(2) If one lingers, it is clear to all that one is certainly immersing for medicinal purposes, for that is the only reason one would remain in disgusting water for more than a short time.

(3) People could assume that the person was unable to find cleaner waters in which to cool off. Remaining in this type of water for a short time is permissible even if one's intent is for healing purposes, as long as it is not obvious to onlookers that this is the intent.

(4) Obviously, in the case of hot springs, onlookers can't assume that the person is cooling off, and thus, even immersing for a short time is prohibited. However, according to the Mishna Berura 328:137, immersing in hot springs for a short time is permissible. Also, the prohibition only applies to someone who is bathing in these springs to alleviate slight discomfort, however, when one is actually ill, it is permissible to bathe in them.

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