The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 260) writes that there is a mitzvah to wash one's body on Erev Shabbos with hot water, as seen in Tractate Shabbos 25b. The Biur Halacha writes that one can argue about using warm water, but cold water is definitely no good, and one will not have fulfilled the mitzvah.

  1. Why is this so? Shouldn't it depend on the situation? If it's hot outside, perhaps I don't want to take a hot shower, and by taking a hot shower, I will feel uncomfortable on Shabbos!

  2. What is considered hot, for this purpose? Surely, it cannot mean that the water has to be so hot that one gets burned because of it.

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    I love this sentence "It cannot mean that the water has to be so hot that one gets burned because of it, because of "V'nishmartem Meod L'Nafshosaychem" (Devarim 4:15)." – Hacham Gabriel Jun 11 '13 at 14:48
  • Sorry @HachamGabriel, I just took that out, since it seems to be leading to a tangent, IMHO. – Seth J Jun 11 '13 at 16:13
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    @SethJ I'll forgive you by Yom Kipur. – Hacham Gabriel Jun 11 '13 at 16:42
  • "If it's hot outside, perhaps I don't want to take a hot shower" Actually, in my experience (where the weather reaches 110+ in the summer no joke), a hot shower can make you feel much, much cooler. – ezra Apr 12 '18 at 13:47

The Eshel Avraham from Buchach (OC 260:1) makes almost exactly the points that you do in Q1. Here are 2 separate quotes from him that although unrelated, both apply:

נראה שאין גם מצוה מן המובחר לרחוץ כל גופו בחמין דוקא כל שרוחץ כל גופו... ...בצונן, וכן הוא מנהג כל עם בני ישראל

...כי עיקר הרחיצה היא משום תענוג, ולא כשהוא ענוי לו...

Regarding Q2, see Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (old version 14:1:fn3) where this is discussed regarding what is considered hot water for washing on Shabbos itself, but certainly applies to our case (See the Biur Halacha inside, he brings a proof from this case). As usual, it is a Machlokes Haposkim, but the תהל"ד (תהליה לדוד) סימן שכו makes the point that obviously it is not referring to Yad Soledes Bo water, and suggests that if you can feel any heat it would qualify, although others disagree. Shemiras Shabbos concludes that according to Acharonim it is less than Yad Soledes, but does not give a precise definition. (See also Aruch Hashulchan, Dirshu Mishna Berura, and Piskei Teshuvos to the beginning of OC 326, where they bring a large number of sources that discuss the definition of "hot water" for Rechitza Beshabbos.)

Note that in both cases, I cannot prove that the Biur Halacha agrees, but I can provide other approaches within the corpus of accepted Poskim.

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  • "From Buchach" (try using as much English as possible) – Oliver Dec 24 '17 at 5:45
  • @Oliver Thanks, still new here, so getting used to this. – רבות מחשבות Dec 24 '17 at 5:48
  • I realized; same here. Keep up the good work. – Oliver Dec 24 '17 at 6:04

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