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Compilation-Drying one’s body after Mikveh or a cold shower on Shabbos & Drying one’s hands on Shabbos:
One who immerses in a Mikveh on Shabbos, or takes a cold shower in mitigating circumstances [i.e. heat duress; remove sweat or dirt], or even simply washes his hands on Shabbos, must be careful to avoid transgressing prohibitions involved in the drying process of the water that is on his body and hands. In general, there are three Halachic aspects involved in drying the body that one must be aware of:
- The requirement to dry the water off the body and hands before entering an area without an Eiruv.
- The requirement to avoid the squeezing and laundering prohibition with the clothe that one uses to dry himself.
- The requirement to avoid squeezing water from the hair and avoid drying it in a way that causes the water to squeeze.
A. The need to dry:
It is forbidden for one who washes his body [i.e. shower, or Mikveh, or even washes his hands] to carry the water that is on his body in an area without an Eiruv. [Thus, if there is no Eiruv one’s city, one must dry the drops of water from his body/hands prior to exiting the home or building. If one immersed in a river or ocean, he should not walk at all with the water on him, even less than four cubits. Thus one is to prepare a towel, or place his clothing, near the shoreline and dry himself there prior to walking.]
May one walk into a public domain after Mikveh a shower if there are still drops of water in one’s hair or beard?
B. Issue of getting the towel or clothing wet:
It is permitted to dry oneself with a cloth on Shabbos. This allowance applies towards any cloth, even if one is particular during the week not to get the clothing wet, [such as a shirt and the like]. [Thus one may dry his hands on his shirt and clothing on Shabbos, and may likewise use his clothing to dry himself after Mikveh, and may certainly put them on without drying his body beforehand.] Nevertheless, it is best to use an item which one is not particular to squeeze [such as a towel] to do so rather than using clothing which one is particular to squeeze out their water upon them getting wet. Likewise, it is best to shake the water off one’s body prior to drying himself, even though from the letter of the law there is no need to do so, and the custom is to be lenient. [This applies even when using a towel designated for drying.]
Should one dry himself with a towel on Shabbos rather than wear his clothing while still wet?
Yes. It is better to use a towel, as one’s clothing is not designated for drying with and he may therefore come to squeeze the water from it.
C. Squeezing and drying hair on Shabbos:
Biblically, there is no prohibition against squeezing hair on Shabbos. Nevertheless, it is Rabbinically forbidden to squeeze liquid out from hair on Shabbos [due to the Mifarek prohibition]. Thus, every bather needs to beware not to squeeze his hair.
Q&A on squeezing and drying hair on Shabbos
What areas of hair contain the squeezing prohibition?
Only those areas which have hair growing in close proximity to each other such as the hair of the head, beard [underarms and pubic area]. However, the hair of the arms [and legs] are distanced from each other and thus do not contain a squeezing prohibition.
May one squeeze the water out from his eyelids after leaving the Mikveh?
This matter is dependent on the dispute mentioned above. Practically, one may be lenient to do so as otherwise there is pain involved in having the water get into one’s eyes, as well as that since the hair of the eyelids are not close together they most probably do not contain a squeezing prohibition at all.
If while drinking one wet his mustache, may he squeeze the water out?
One is to be careful to only do so using a towel as opposed to one’s hands.
May one scratch his hair when it is wet?
Yes. Although doing so will inevitably cause water to get squeezed out it is nevertheless permitted to be done. Nevertheless, it is best to do so using one’s hat or the like.
May one wash one’s beard/head and the like on Shabbos?
The law: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to wash the hair on Shabbos using one’s hands, due to that in doing so one causes the water to be squeezed from his hair. Other Poskim, however, rule it is permitted to wash one’s hair on Shabbos, even if one will squeeze the water in the process of washing. Practically, although doing so in it of itself is not prohibited from the letter of the law, the custom is to avoid doing so being that one may come to squeeze his hair in a way that is prohibited.
In case of Discomfort: In a case of discomfort one may wash his head.
In case of dirt: If one’s head or beard contains dirt it may be washed.
Washing ones bearded face when no intent to wash the beard: As well one may always wash and dry 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.
May one use soap: From the letter of the law, some write that it is permitted to even use liquid soap to wash the hair, so long as one is careful not to squeeze the hair in the process. Nevertheless, practically one is not to do so, and so is the custom.
Q&A on using a towel
May one dry his head or beard or other hairy area with a towel?
Yes. Nevertheless, one is to only do so gently, without force. However, there are those who are scrupulous not to dry the hair of the beard and rather shake out the water and let it dry on its own.
May one leave a towel over his wet hair letting the water get absorbed into the towel on its own?
Yes, doing so is permitted even according to the stringent opinions mentioned above.
 See Admur 326:1 regarding the allowance to bathe in cold water on Shabbos and 326:6 regarding the custom to nevertheless avoid bathing in cold water and Admur 326:7 regarding the allowance to immerse in a Mikveh and Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8 that this applies even according to the custom and that it is permitted to shower if one is bothered by the heat. So also rules: Igros Moshe 4:74; Beir Moshe 6:73; Dvar Yehoshua 2:54; Az Nidbaru 1:61; SSH”K 14:1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 326:8; Shabbos Kehalacha 18:40; [Minchas Yitzchak 6:32 implies 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, however he then concludes by bringing the Ketzos Hashulchan ibid which is lenient.]
 Admur 301:61 “It is permitted to stand on the bed of the river and wash one’s hands in its water. There is no prohibition involved in the removal of the water which is on his hands from the river onto the bed being that the river is a Karmalis and the bed of the river is likewise a Karmalis and it is permitted to remove [items] from one Karmalis to another Karmalis within the distance of four handbreadths. However one must beware to dry his hands well immediately after removing them from the river prior to walking four cubits.”; 326:6 “One who bathes in a river [on Shabbos] needs to dry his body 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].”; Michaber 301:49; 326:7; Rav Yehuda 141a; Tashbatz 34; Rabbeinu Yerucham 17
 M”B 326:22; However see Admur 301:61 and 326:6 who implies that it is permitted to be done, so long as he does not carry it four Amos
The reason: Although we rule [in 349:1] that one may carry within his four Amos, nonetheless here we suspect that one may come to carry the water that is on him even more than four Amos, and hence we require him to dry himself right away. [M”B ibid]
 M”B 326:22
 P”M 326 M”Z 2; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:178; 4:90; Eretz Tzevi 1:73; Har Tzevi 1:197; Kinyan Torah 4:32; Bris Olam Rechitza 18; Az Nidbaru 2:43; Divrei Moshe 1:16; Beir Moshe, Divrei Malkiel, Piskeiy Teshuvos 301:22 [66 in new]
Other opinions: Some were careful to dry the beard prior to walking 4 cubits [or leaving the Mikveh to a public domain which does not have an Eiruv]. [Steipler brought in Teshuvos Vehanhagos ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 465]
 The reason: It is allowed being the water does not contain Shiur Hotzaah, and is likewise not the common way of carrying and hence the Sages did not decree against it even in a Reshus Harabaim. [P”M ibid] Likewise, the drops of water being that the drops are nullified to one’s beard, as is the law regarding water absorbed in a cloth.
 Admur 301:60 “One who washes his face hands and feet in hot water which was heated from before Shabbos, or even [one] who bathes his entire body in the Tiberius springs, or in cold water, the [Sages] permitted him to dry himself with a towel or sheet and the like, even if one is particular during the week to squeeze these clothes from their absorbed liquid. Nevertheless, it is best to dry oneself with an item which one is not particular to squeeze even during the week.”; Admur 302:21 and 23; Michaber 301:48; Shabbos 147b
The reason it does not contain a Biblical laundering prohibition? As it is Derech Lichluch and not Derech Kibbus. It is therefore permitted to dry oneself with a garment after bathing even if he has a lot of water on his body. [Admur 302:21; Rama 302:10]
The reason that this does not involve a Rabbinical laundering prohibition: The Sages did not suspect that one may forget and come to squeeze the towel on Shabbos being that this decree would be a decree which is impossible to implement, as being that all bathers need to dry themselves, if they were to prohibit drying in essence they would be prohibiting people to bathe, which is a matter that is impossible to prevent people from doing. [This inability to withstand the decree is known from past experience as] one time the Sages decreed not to bathe [even in water heated by fire before Shabbos] due to the bath house attendees which would heat up the water on Shabbos while claiming that it was heated before Shabbos, and afterwards [they decreed against even bathing in the Tiberius springs being that people would bathe in fire heated water claiming that it was Tiberius spring water, and afterwards] the Sages saw that the public is unable to uphold the decree and they thus retracted and rescinded it. Now, although today in which it is possible to abstain from bathing on Shabbos [and thus the decree is now one which can be kept by the public], and thus it is possible to decree against drying oneself, nevertheless drying oneself contains no prohibition being that it was never prohibited by the council of Sages [which are the only authority to make such decrees]. [Admur 301:60; M”A 301:58]
 Admur 301:60 [regarding drying after bath]; 302:23 [regarding drying hands]; Implication of M”A 301:58 regarding body [however see M”A 302:22 regarding hands]; Elya Raba 302:26 and 33; Ran Shabbos 62b; Sefer Hateruma 244; P”M 302 A”A 22; Tosefes Shabbos 302:32; M”B 302:51; Kaf Hachaim 302:77; Piskeiy Teshuvos 302:24; See Tehila Ledavid 301:45 and 302:11
Other opinions regarding drying hands: Some Poskim rule that it is forbidden to dry the hands on any garment that is not designated for that purpose due to worry that one may come to squeeze the water on Shabbos. Thus, one may not dry his hands on his clothing on Shabbos. [M”A 302:22, brought in M”B and Kaf Hachaim ibid, unlike M”A 301:58 regarding a towel after bathing that it is only proper to be stringent]
 M”B 301:173 in name of Gr”a
 Admur ibid; M”A 301:58; However regarding drying hands on a cloth, the M”A 302:22 rules it is forbidden to use a garment that one is particular not to get wet. However, see M”B 302:51 in name of Peri Megadim that argues one may be lenient by a small amount of water.
 Admur 302:21; Michaber 302:10; See Rama there; Piskeiy Teshuvos 302:24; Shabbos Kehalacha 18:56
The reason: As there are opinions [Yireim; Maharam; Mordechai] who rule there is a laundering prohibition involved in wetting a clothing even in a form of drying and only when a small amount of water is used is it allowed. [See Admur ibid and Kuntrus Achron 302:1; M”B 302:50]
 Shabbos Kehalacha 18:55-56; Piskeiy Teshuvos 302:24
 Admur 326:6; Raba and Rav Yosef in Shabbos 128b
The reason: As hair is hard and does not actually absorb water inside of it. [Admur ibid; Rashi ibid] The water is absorbed between each individual hair. It hence does not carry a squeezing prohibition of Mifareik of laundering which is relevant to clothing and other items that are squeezed.
 Admur 326:6 and in 330:1; M”A 326:8 and 320:23; Beis Yosef 330; Kesef Mishneh 2:11; Implication of Rambam 9:11; Kol Bo and Maharil 139 brought in M”A ibid and Beis Yosef Y.D. 199; M”B ibid and 326:24, 25, 320:55; Biur Halacha 302 “Assur”; Aruch Hashulchan 320:35; Kaf Hachaim 320:110
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no prohibition involved in squeezing hair. [Implication of Gemara ibid and Meiri Nidah 67b; Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam according to Avnei Nezer 157:14; Chida in Shiyurei Bracha 199:3 based on Beis Yosef Y.D. ibid; See Imros Moshe p. 332 for a lengthy discussion on the opinions on this matter.]
Does the laundering prohibition apply to hair? No. [Avnei Nezer ibid]
 Admur 326:6; M”A 326:8; M”B 326:21
 Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8; Piskeiy Teshuvah 326:7; Shabbos Kehalacha 18:53
 Ketzos Hashulchan ibid; Minchas Shabbos 86:6; Rav SZ”A in Maor Hashabbos 4:44; Shabbos Kehalacha ibid
 Yeshuos Chochmah brought in Ketzos Hashulchan ibid; Az Nidbaru 13:10
 Yeshuos Chochmah brought in Minchas Shabbos ibid; Az Nidbaru 13:10; Rav SZ”A in Maor Hashabbos 4:44;
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 326 footnote 133
 Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8
 And in a case of pain the Sages did not uphold their decree.
 Ben Ish Chaiy Pekudei 2:8; Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8
 Minchas Shabbos 86:6
 The reason: As a) One does not desire the water to get squeezed and it is thus a Pesik Reishei which is not Nicha Lei. As well b) In a case of pain the Sages did not apply their decree.
 Avnei Nezer 157:14; Sheivet Halevy 5:45; Mishneh Halachos 5:51; They are stringent to avoid washing the beard individually with ones hands [as opposed to when using a shower head or entering into a Mikveh] due to that it will inevitably cause hair to get squeezed out.
 M”B 326:25; Implication of Michaber 326:9 and Admur 326:8; Ashel Avraham Butchach 320:17; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid; Igros Moshe 1:133; Piskeiy Teshuvos 326:11; Rav SZ”A in his final ruling in SSH”K 14 footnote 1; See Shabbos Kehalach 18 footnote 70; Implication of Ben Ish Chaiy/Minchas Shabbos/Ketzos Hashulchan, as they allow to dry the hair. Furthermore, from the fact that Admur never mentions not to wash the beard or head when mentioning the ruling that one may wash minority of the body itself proves that according to Admur washing these areas contain no prohibition and it is only their squeezing that is problematic. Vetzaruch Iyun from SSH”K 14:11 which plainly rules that one is not to wash these areas, thus contradicting the ruling that he brought earlier in footnote 1 in the name of Rav SZ”A.
 The reason: As in addition to the reason he mentions there [that the water gets squeezed towards the body] the water squeezed goes to waste. Likewise, the Sages did not want to decree against one washing his face on Shabbos. [See Ketzos Hashulchan ibid]
 Ashel Avraham Butchach 320:17; Sheivet Halevy 5:45; Mishneh Halachos 5:51; Piskeiy Teshuvos 326:11; See Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid ; Igros Moshe 1:133; Peri Megadim M”Z 320:12. However there are opinions [Sheivet Halevy 5:45; Mishneh Halachos 5:51] who are stringent in this.
 Rav SZ”A 14 footnote 9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 326 footnote 132; Shabbos Kehalacha 18:54
 The reason: As although water is squeezed out. Nonetheless other water comes right back in. [ibid]
 Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 326:11 based on Michaber 326:9 and Admur 326:8 and M”B 326:25 and 28 which allows using Morson on the beard
 Sheveit Halevi 5:45; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 See Shabbos Kehalacha 18:57; Piskeiy Teshuvos 326:12
 Ben Ish Chaiy Pekudei 2:8; Minchas Shabbos 8:6; Ashel Avraham Butchach 320:17; Ketzos Hashulchan 133 footnote 8; Kaf Hachaim 320:111; Shabbos Kehalacha ibid
Other opinions: Some Poskim prohibit using a towel to dry one’s hair even lightly. [Az Nidbaru 1:55; Beir Moshe 1:31] Practically, one may rely on the great Poskim listed above who permit doing so, especially being the entire prohibition is of Rabbinical nature, and one has no intent to squeeze the hair, and Admur never mentions in the laws of drying the body [in 301 and 302] any need to be careful in the above.
The reason: Now although one will inevitably squeeze out some water in the process, nevertheless it is allowed as the squeezing is done in an irregular fashion [using the towel], as well as that the water squeezed goes to waste. As well as regarding the beard, since one who does not dry his face it can break out in a skin problem, it was never decreed against drying it, even though it is inevitable that one will not squeeze out some of the water from his beard in the process. [Ketzos Hashulchan Ibid] Likewise it is permitted because the squeezed liquid is not recognizable and enters straight into the towel. [See Shabbos Kehalacha ibid footnote 133]
 Ben Ish Chaiy ibid; Kaf Hachaim 320:111; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid; Shabbos Kehalacha ibid
 Ben Ish Chaiy ibid; Keztos Hashulchan ibid
 Az Nidbaru ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Shabbos Kehalacha ibid