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, even though according to the strict law it is permitted to go swimming on Shabbat one shouldn't do so. [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 above ground that keeps the water from splashing out. However, practically speaking, he quotes his father, Rav Ovadia Yosef, as saying that one shouldn't go swimming on Shabbat. 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. See Mishna Brurah 301:7.
    • The gezerah of swimming on Shabbat applies to a river or pool without walls (Shulchan Aruch OC 339:2).
    • One can't squeeze the water out of one's hair because that would be sechita. See Mishna Brurah 320:55.
    • Gently rubbing one's hair isn't a concern of pulling out a hair since it isn't intended and isn't certain.
    • It is better to wait a bit to air dry and then use a towel and there's no concern of libun since the towel is getting dirtier and not cleaner. However, according to the strict law it is permitted not to wait. See Shulchan Aruch OC 301:48.
    • There could potentially be a gezerah that it is forbidden to get the bathing suit wet because you might come to sechita (Rama 302:9). However, it is possible to argue that it doesn't apply to something that is made to get wet and there isn't a concern you'll come to sechita. If it is nylon there's no question of sechita.
    • In terms of the concern of soaking the bathing suit in water is like cleaning perhaps there's no issue since the bathing suit was clean beforehand (Shulchan Aruch OC 302:9). See also Shulchan Aruch 319:16 and 334:24.
    • There is no issue of bathing which was a gezerah if the water is totally cold (not even lukewarm) as it says in Shulchan Aruch OC 326:1. Because of this concern Ashkenazim have the minhag not to bathe in cold water on Shabbat (see Mishna Brurah 326:21).
    • In terms of the concern of carrying the drops of water on one's body in the public domain (Shulchan Aruch OC 326:7) one should be careful to dry oneself very well.