Hilchot Sheleg – Laws of Snow #1

Q: Is snow muktzeh on Shabbat?
A: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 300:11) says that one may not crush ice on Shabbat. This implies that snow is not muktzeh, since the only problem is crushing. But perhaps the Shulchan Aruch is only discussing snow which fell before Shabbat, and snow which fell on Shabbat is muktzeh based on "nolad" (something created on Shabbat). One can argue, however, that snow is like rain and rain is not muktzeh on Shabbat (Mishneh Berurah ibid. 338:30). Even though the rain was not necessarily in the clouds before Shabbat, it is not muktzeh. As such, what is the different between rain and snow?! Some explain that they are not the same since snow is never in the clouds. Tiny drops fall and they become snow as they come close to the ground. Some therefore say that snow is "nolad" (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 5:22). This is not exact, because the rain is also not necessarily in the clouds and formed before Shabbat. There are tiny drops in the clouds and they thicken on Shabbat and become rain, just like snow. There are therefore many authorities who rule that snow is not muktzeh (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilchata 15:36 and 16:44 in the name of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. This is also the opinion of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef). Similarly, many authorities allow putting water into a freezer to make ice on Shabbat.