We learned that: If no cup is available for washing one's hands, one can immerse them into a river or into snow, if there's enough snow on the ground to fill a Mikve. (About 500 litres/130 gallons of water.)

This applies to washing three times after arising as well as washing before eating bread.

Source Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:6, 40:7

Somebody wanted to know if one could tovel dishes in snow. Any sources for an answer?


2 Answers 2


There is a machloket Rishonim if one can dip straight into 40 se'ah of snow. The Mordechai (Mo'ed 332) quotes 3 opinions on the matter: Rabbeinu Shemarya says its perfectly fine, Rabbeinu Eliezer says it's no good, and Rabbeinu Simcha says you shouldn't do it because since it is not a liquid, you can't ensure that every part of the object is touching the snow. (Interestingly, the case they discuss is where some guy forced his wife to dip in snow and he wants to know now if it worked; you'd think he should have asked before forcing his wife to do that...)

The Beit Yosef (YD 201) writes that the majority opinion and Halacha is in accordance with Rabbeinu Shemarya, but out of deference to the other two he recommends relying on this only for Rabbinic immersions (this would seem to include Netillat Yadayim, glass dishes, and certainly Tevillat Ezra (perhaps also a Niddah who found a rabbinic Chatzitza after immersing in a regular Mikvah)). However in his Shulchan Aruch (YD 201:30) he rules straight-up like Rabbeinu Shemarya, with the Rama noting that others argue and one should be stringent Lechatchila. The Rama does not make a distinction between Biblical or rabbinic obligations.

To make matters worse, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 160:12) also rules that one can only do Netillat Yadayim in snow if one has ground it up until it is liquid. While the Magen Avraham and Gra there interpret this as referring to if one plans on picking up the snow and pouring it with a cup (as opposed to dipping one's hands into snow on the ground), the Shach (YD 201 sk 71) says that the Beit Yosef in YD 201 misunderstood multiple Rishonim, and really no Rishon except Rabbeinu Shemarya holds that one can dip straight into snow. He rules like the simple reading of OC 160:12 that one can never do Tevillah in snow.

From the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch you cite who only permits Netillat Yadayim in snow in a time of need, it would seem he is ruling like the Rama that one should be stringent about dipping in snow only Lechatchila. So you can accordingly tovel glass dishes (a rabbinic requirement just like Netillat Yadayim) in snow as well, in a time of need. I would hesitate before extending the Kitzur's ruling to Biblical requirements (such as the need to tovel metal dishes, cf Aruch haShulchan YD 120:4) without an explicit source to do so.

  • Nice. +1. (Though I'm still not 100% convinced by the reasoning that you can compare n'tilas yadyim to rabbinic t'vilas keilim, I think the answer is great otherwise.)
    – Fred
    Jan 9, 2013 at 18:21
  • @Fred star-k.org/articles/articles/1168/the-mitzvah-of-tevilas-keilim The Star-K seems to have reached a similar conclusion.
    – Double AA
    Jan 27, 2015 at 0:13
  • I agree with your conclusion, but I'm not certain that any heter for t'vilas yadayim would necessarily extend to a corresponding heter for t'vilas keilim d'rabbanan since each might carry its own set of (albeit overlapping) leniencies and stringencies (but I'm not familiar enough with this topic to say so definitively).| The link to the Mordechai doesn't seem to get to the specific page. This does: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37953&pgnum=699 . Also, how do you know if the husband asked whether the t'vila counted - maybe the wife asked?
    – Fred
    Jan 27, 2015 at 4:56

Rav Yitzchak Abadi(Ohr Yitzchak chelek 2 YD 17:12) quotes the ShuLchan Aruch YD 201:30 that collected water is pasul for mikvah but not snow... and even if one uses a whole mikvah full of snow it is good.Even though the Rama writes we should be machmir and wait until it melts this is talking in the case of a niddah but one would not have to be stringent by utensils(this includes d'oraisas as well),and bsahas hadchak even a niddah can be tovel in snow.

However,he brings the Chazon Ish YD 133:3 who writes that although snow can be used al pi din we should be worried that the snow did not touch all areas of the utensil.This is how Rav Abadi goes lmaase (he writes this at the end in the summary of the siman)


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