Recreation on Shabbat

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Swimming on Shabbat

  1. It is forbidden to swim on Shabbat in a river, ocean, or pool.[1] For Sephardim it is permitted to swim in a pool in a walled area if the pool has walls above ground surrounding the pool that prevents the water from escaping out of the pool.[2]


  1. The Mishna (Beitzah 36b) establishes that it is forbidden to swim on Shabbat. The gemara explains that it is a rabbinic gezerah so that on Shabbat a person doesn't make a raft that floats in the water. The Gemara Shabbat 40b clarifies that this only applies to swimming in a body of water without a lip. However, if there's an edge to the pool it is permitted. Rashi (41a s.v. de'eyt) explains that the lip makes it permitted since everyone will know that it isn't similar to a river and the gezerah wouldn't apply. The Rif (Shabbat 18b) differs in his explanation; he understood that reason a pool would look like a river is true when water splashes out of the pool, but if there's a lip that keeps the water in the pot there's no gezerah. The Shulchan Aruch 339:2 codifies the Mishna Beitzah and accepts the explanation of the Rif. Therefore, in terms of the gezerah not to swim on Shabbat it would apply to an ocean, river, or pool which doesn't have a lip that keeps the water in from splashing out.
    • Mishna Brurah 339:4 adds an important point. If the pool is outside in a public domain it is certainly forbidden to swim in that pool since the water will move because of his movements, which is considered carrying.
    • Rav Nevinsal (BYitzchak Yikra 339:2) adds that another issue includes not squeezing out water from one's hair or cloths. He concludes that this is a problem unless one covers one's hair and is wearing plastic or leather clothing which doesn't absorb water.
    • Shemirat Shabbat Khilchata 14:12 writes that all swimming is forbidden like the Chaye Adam 44:20 generally forbade swimming and didn't distinguish between the types of pools.
  2. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat v. 2 p. 7, 301:7) writes that it is forbidden to swim in an ocean or pool but it is permitted in a pool if it has walls that keep in the water. In the footnote he addresses a number of issues with swimming on Shabbat.
    • It isn't an issue of exercising on Shabbat if it isn't evident that one is swimming for exercise and is just doing so for pleasure.
    • The gezerah of swimming on Shabbat applies to a river or pool without pools.