Showering on Yom Tov
by Rabbi Aaron Tendler
***This pertains to Sukkos, not to Yom Kippur!***
If I’m feeling uncomfortable, is there any way that I may take a shower on Yom Tov?
Name & Seminary Withheld
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Hi, and thanks for your question. There are actually two possible ways that it would be permitted to shower on Yom Tov, if a person is very uncomfortable. A cold shower would be permitted. Cold doesn’t necessarily mean freezing, anything less than body temperature is considered cold (regarding this Halacha specifically). The other possibility would be to take a hot shower, but not wash your entire body at once, i.e. to wash arms, legs, head, separately. This is permitted just as you would be permitted to wash your face in the sink with hot water. We may actually bathe little children who need to be bathed, in warm water, just as during the week. However, whenever showering or bathing is permitted, this is only using liquid soap, not a bar of soap. Some people are stringent to dilute the liquid soap somewhat before using it on Shabbos or Yom Tov (including dish washing soap). This may be done on Yom Tov if you forgot to do it before. The soap should be poured into a cup already containing water, so no lather builds up. However, if this is not your custom, you may use it as you would during the week. Also, one should not towel dry vigorously on Yom Tov, rather you should gently pat yourself dry with a towel, or just “air dry”. Regarding hair, it may be washed in a _very_ gentle manner, with care being taken not to pull out any hairs. If you know that your hair easily falls out, it should not be washed.
I hope that this has been helpful. If you’d like sources for the above, please see the Shemiras Shabbath K’Hilchasa by Rabbi Neuwirth Shlit”a, which is also available in English translation. I don’t have it in front of me, but I believe that he discusses bathing on Yom Tov in Chapter 14.
Rabbi Aaron Tendler