As a prelude to the major topic of carrying vs. wearing clothing on Shabbos, the halacha touches upon the issue of walking near a stream of water. Basically, the question is this: If I have to go somewhere, and there is a stream of water in the way, it is better to 1) jump over it, 2) walk around it or 3) walk through it? (Apparently, walking ON the water is not given as an option!)
36) If one is walking and he reaches a stream, he may jump over it, even if it is a bit wide. It is better to jump over it than to bypass it (i.e. walk all around it), because the latter increases the effort of the journey. It is forbidden to pass through the stream, lest one come to wring out his wet clothes after crossing (Ed: This would violate the prohibition against “squeezing” or “laundering”.) One should even avoid walking near water, where he is likely to slip and fall into it!
37) The above is stated concerning one who walks to attend to a personal matter. If one was going to do a mitzvah, such as greeting his father, his rebbe or a Torah Scholar of greater stature than himself, he may even pass through the stream, provided that he does so in an unusual manner. For example, he may keep his hands under his overcoat, or the like. This change will serve to remind him not to wring out his clothes. He should be sure not to wear loose-fitting sandals, for fear that they will slip off in the water, and he will inadvertently carry them. Regular shoes may be worn. Upon returning from his “mitzvah”, he may go the same route, even passing through the stream again. There is a middle-category – somewhere in-between a mitzvah and a personal matter. This would include the likes of guarding a field to protect its produce from theft or damage. Under this category, one is granted the leniency of going toward his mission through a stream (or bypassing it), but he is not granted it on his return trip. Thus, for the return, he would be required to jump or bypass the stream. (Footnote 134: Most poskim rule that, whenever possible, it is preferable to take the leniency of bypassing the stream, over the leniency of going through it – even in the mitzvah category! Ed: Accordingly, this may eliminate the practical difference between the two halves of the trip in the middle category as well – i.e. in both, one may still be required to bypass.)