Here's some context for my question: I like going for morning walks in my bare feet through the grass or in the sand. In addition to getting a healthy amount of sunlight, many medical and biological professionals believe that this has a positive affect called 'grounding' on the body, which has many health benefits that I won't rabbit trail into in this post.

I was recently listening to a teaching while working out in the morning, and the Rabbi mentioned something negative about being barefoot that made me question my morning practice.

Since hearing this, I began researching the subject, and have found a few answers, but none of them answered my question within the intended context that I'm searching for.

I'm curious if there are any specific parameters to the subject of being barefoot, both indoors and outdoors, but especially outdoors.

Certain nuanced, context-related questions arise for me on this topic, such as, "If going barefoot is always bad, does that mean we should also swim with water shoes?"

As a note, I do not think biological indicators or health-related measurements are always a proper lens for considering mitzvot or halachah and their spiritual consequences.

For example, many modern doctors and other medical professionals recommend bacon for brain health, shellfish for joint health, and frequently prescribe medications containing pork. To me, "health benefits" can be just another form of temptation.

One must ask themselves, "Do I value the physical benefits of this thing, or obedience to HaShem, regardless of benefits?" Obedience itself IS the benefit, and if it's the only one, it's a blessing.

This said, I do like these morning walks. Is it proper to continue taking them barefoot, or should I throw on some shoes? If swimming on the beach or anywhere outdoors, what then? Others may be able to think of other instances in which the nuances of halachah on going barefoot become relevant, but I think you get the gist, by now.

Thank you in advance for any insights! I am excited to learn (and will keep my shoes on, in the meantime, just in case lol).

History and sources are greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: I just learned that there are special "grounding shoes" created to provide the same health-related benefits. Interestingly enough, most of them are mode of leather or at least have leather soles.

From my very limited knowledge of shoe fashion throughout history, leather shoes were frequently worn during the time periods of most of the people we read about in the scriptures. Maybe they were benefiting from grounding all along! Lol

This still wouldn't answer my question, however, especially about swimming outdoors.

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    "I was recently listening to a teaching while working out in the morning, and the Rabbi mentioned something negative about being barefoot that made me question my morning practice." What did the rabbi state? What source did he cite? What was the context? Commented May 3 at 20:28
  • @אילפא thank you! I'm not sure how my mind didn't immediately go here. One could infer from this, then, that water shoes are a must for swimming as well? I haven't really dug into the halacha regarding swimming as a whole yet, but any sources you have on the subject would be extremely helpful. Commented May 3 at 20:36

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Mishna Brura (OC 2:14) writes

Our Sages have taught that a person should sell everything he owns in order to buy shoes for his feet. In the Arab countries where they normally walk barefoot, it is permitted. [...]

The Dirshu MB edition brings 3 reasons for not walking barefoot

  • out of tzniut (Chofetz Chaim)
  • because of the cold (Maharsha)
  • because there is no bigger shame than to walk barefoot in the market (Rashi)

It is very possible that, where it is customary to walk barefoot in the sand, such as at the beach, it would be permitted. Actually MB 4:53 writes exactly this

[...] Machatzit Hashekel wrote that it depends on the custom of the place, if it's the way of people there to have those parts exposed.

Last, note MB 301:62 writes than even then on Shabbat and Yom Tov one should wear shoes.

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

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    Thank you for these insights! Commented May 24 at 19:13

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