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Please Note:
The Halachos on this website are based on my personal understanding of the Halachic texts quoted, and are for learning purposes only, NOT for Psak Halacha.

DO NOT rely on them for Psak Halacha L’Maaseh. If you have questions or require further source information, please email the question at Ben@HalachaForToday.comand I will try to respond as soon as I can. For a Halacha L’Ma’aseh Psak, please contact your local Orthodox Rabbi.

Thank you.

ARCHIVES: HILCHOS NETILAS YADAYIM

BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE  DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST, INCLUDING THE DATES ON WHICH THEY WERE SENT, EXACTLY AS THEY WERE SENT.

Important Note: The Halachos below are the Halachos of “Netilas Yadayim L’Seudah, the laws of properly washing the hands before eating bread”. Please do not confuse this with the Halachos of “Negel Vasser- washing the hands upon waking up in the morning”, as their halachos are not necessarily the same and may not always be applied interchangeably. For Halachos of Negel Vasser please see archives of Hilchos Tefilah HERE.  Thank you.

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11 2009

1) Chazal instituted “Netilas Yadayim”, and required  the  washing of the hands before  eating bread, even if the hands are not soiled or dirty.

Some have the custom to scratch their heads or touch a normally covered part of their body before washing for bread, thus ensuring that their hands are surely in need of a washing. (See Shu”t Teshuvos V’hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 170:3)

The primary reason for requiring this washing is that in times of old (and again shortly when Mashiach arrives) before Kohanim were allowed to partake of Terumah they had to wash their hands to ensure they weren’t impure. In order for them to get in the habit of doing so, the Chazal instituted this washing for all of Klal Yisroel, not just for Kohanim.

Even though we don’t have a Bais HaMikdash now, and are all “impure”, the requirement for Netilas Yadayim was kept in force, so we should be in the habit of doing so as soon as the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt (May it be speedily and in our days)

2) Care must  be taken to be scrupulous with the mitzvah of Netilas Yadayim, as those who [regularly] disgrace this Mitzvah are subject to a life of poverty (alluded to in the words “Al Netilas Yadayim” whose first letter spell out the word  ANY- a pauper”) and some other not so pleasant repercussions. (See Talmud Shabbos 62b).

Women and children are also obligated in Netilas Yadayim.

The many intricacies of the Halachos pertaining to properly washing for Netilas Yadayim, necessitate  a thorough learning  of the subject in order to be able to properly adhere to them[ and avoid the negative outcomes of not being scrupulous in these laws] (Shl”a quoted in Kaf HaChaim Siman 165:12)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 12 2009

1)The requirement of Netilas Yadayim is only before eating bread made from the “Chameishes Minei Dagan, the 5 species of grain” (wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats), and only when the Bracha on the bread in question is “Hamotzi”.

One should not be stringent and wash the hands before eating [dry] fruits, as doing this unnecessary Chumra is a sign of haughtiness. (The Chazal only instituted the washing on bread as most of Terumah was bread and only a small portion was from fruit, and they did not institute this Halacha for the minority of Terumah foods. See Ram”a Siman 158:5 and Mishna Berura 22. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 158:1)

If one’s hands are dirty, or if one has a minhag to wash his hands before uttering any Bracha to Hashem, he/she may indeed wash the hands before eating fruits. (Mishna Berura 158:23). However, when doing so, it is best to not wash the hands in a way that it appears that it is for “Netilas Yadayim” (See Ketzos HaShulchan 36:21 and Mishna Berura ibid.)

2) If the fruits were wet while eating, Netilas Yadayim is required, and we will discuss those Halachos (of “Tibul B’Mashkeh) iy”H in a few days.

One who eats bread whose Bracha is “Mezonos” or other pastries, does not wash the hands, unless they are “Kovea Seudah” by eating the “Mezonos” item  for their meal. (We will iy”H cover the Halachos of what constitutes “Kovea Seudah” in the near future as well)

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, MARCH 13 2009

(Double portion L’Kavod Shabbos)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1)One who eats  a “K’Beitza” of bread (size of an egg) is obligated to wash his/her hands and make the  Bracha  of “Al Netilas Yadayim”.

One who will be eating less than this amount should wash, but not recite the Bracha. Even though many Poskim maintain that one who eats less than a Kzayis (size of an olive) need not wash the hands at all, it is  still best to be stringent and wash the hands albeit without a Bracha. (Mishna Berura 158:10)

If the bread is being eaten as a secondary food (tafel) to a more important food (Ikar), and thus doesn’t need a Bracha of Hamotzi (e.g. croutons in soup, or bread crumbs on chicken) it also doesn’t require washing of the hands. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 212:6). However, if the amount of bread being eaten as a tafel is more than a Kzayis, some Poskim require washing the hands without a Bracha (See Sha’ar HaTzion 158:11 and Mishna Berura ibid. 10)

2) One who eats bread must wash both his/her hands, even if he/she will only be touching the bread with one hand, as we are afraid that the unwashed hand will touch the bread. (Mishna Berura 158:4.See Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 23:13 who argues with the Mishna Berura about the reasoning of this Halacha)

The aforementioned Halacha remains in place even if one hand is covered with a glove or a towel. Likewise, if one eats with a fork or spoon or is being fed by another person and thus will not touch the bread with their hands, Netilas Yadayim is still required.

One who is feeding another person bread (such as a nurse feeding an elderly person etc.), is not required to wash their hands, as Chazal only instituted Netilas Yadayim for the person eating the bread.(See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 163:2 )

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) One who is traveling and does not have water, and will not find water for 4 Mil (approximately 72 minutes) in front of him/her, and 1 mil (approximately 18 minutes) behind him/her, if he/she  is extremely hungry, the  hands may be wrapped in towels or with gloves, and the bread eaten.

Similarly, if one is unable to wash the hands due to medical reasons, the above procedure may be utilized. If one hand is unable to get wet due to having a cast on it or similar medical reasons, the healthy hand should be washed and the unhealthy hand should be wrapped. (Aruch HaShulchan 163:2)

When relying on the above, both hands must be covered, not just the hand that is touching the bread. (Mishna Berura Siman 163:5). It is important to note, that when relying on the above the hands must be covered and not the bread. Having the hands exposed, and holding the bread with a napkin or in a bag is inadequate, according to most Poskim. (See Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 8 Siman 7:6. )

2) Many Poskim frown upon using the above leniency, unless totally necessary. However, if one can wait a little longer before eating, or manage to eat other things besides bread until water is located, he/she is praised for doing so. (See first Biur Halacha in Siman 163. See also the Siddur of the Ba’al HaTanya in Seder Netilas Yadayim Siman 22, and Tiferes Shmuel on the Rosh Chulin Perek 8:1 where he questions the Halachic legitimacy of this practice)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 15 2009

1)It is prohibited to give bread to a Jew who does not wash his/her hands before eating bread, even if the bread belongs to him/her, as doing so  will cause him/her to do a sin, and thus you will transgress the biblical prohibition of  “Lifnei Iver Lo Titen Michshol”. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 163:2 and Mishna Berura S”K 12)

However, if you aren’t positive that he/she will not wash their hands, or if they plan on taking the bread to their home, and will not be eating it immediately, it is permitted to give it to them. It is, however, good to tell them before giving it to them to please wash Al Netilas Yadayim before eating it. (Mishna Berura ibid. S”K 11 and Biur Halacha  Dibur HaMaschil V’Asur. See  also Shu”t Shevet HaLevi Vol. 4 Siman 17)

The above Halacha does not apply to one who owns a restaurant, as he isn’t obligated to only serve those who he is sure will wash before eating. (See Kaf HaChaim  163:16. See also Shu”t Shevet Halevi Vol. 1 Siman 37)

2) The water of Netilas Yadayim must wash the entire hand. Therefore, before washing it is best to examine the hands to ensure that there isn’t any [significant]dirt that may  cause the water not to cover that part of the hand (and thus be a Chatzitzah- separation) (Mishna Berura Siman 161:1)

If the item stuck to the hand is small and insignificant, and most people wouldn’t bother to remove such dirt, even if it bothers you personally, it isn’t a Chatzitza.

Similarly, If the item is of the nature that most people would remove it, even if it doesn’t bother you personally, it is a Chatzitza and must be removed. (This is only the general rule, there are certain exceptions, which we will discuss tomorrow)

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, MARCH 16 2009

1) One whose “hands on” profession leads to his/her hands regularly being stained (e.g.  construction workers, butchers, painters, artists, Scribes etc.) may wash Netilas Yadayim on the soiled hands, if the cement, grime, ink etc. isn’t covering most of the hand, and it isn’t something that he/she  usually bothers to remove while working.

This is true, even if most other people would be bothered by similar grime, and run to clean it off. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 161:2 and Mishna Berura S”K 11. See also Shu”t Teshuvos V’hanhagos  Vol. 2 Siman117)

2) A Chatitzah (separation) only prevents proper washing if it is a tangible stain on top of the hand, such as dried ink, paint, cement etc.

Simply having a small pen mark or similar stain which cannot be lifted off the hand, is not a problem and the hand may be washed. Similarly, wet ink or paint, which will  move around as  you wash your hands, is not a Chatzitza, as the water is able to reach every part of the hand.(See Mishna Berura 161:14. See also  Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 2 Siman 110)

A wound that is healing and develops a scab is not a Chatzitza unless it bothers you and you regularly remove it. (Mishna Berura 161:16)

Noticeable dirt on the fingernails, under the fingernails, or part of a fingernail that is loose and hanging is a Chatitzah and must be removed before washing Netilas Yadayim. If the dirt is insignificant, and not bothersome enough that people usually remove it, it isn’t a Chatitza. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 161:4 and Kaf HaChaim 161:4)

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 17 2009

1)Women (and men who wear rings) must remove their rings before washing, as the rings are usually removed when a woman kneads dough or otherwise handles messy things.

However, if the hands were washed with the rings on, if the rings are loose fitting she doesn’t need to wash again, as B’dieved it isn’t a Chatzitza. (Mishna Berura 161:18. See also Shu”t Rivevos Ephraim Vol. 1 Siman 127 regarding a woman who never removes the ring at all even for kneading dough. See also Kaf HaChaim 161:32)

Many women “hold” their rings between their teeth while washing and making a Bracha. This practice is not commendable as the mouth must be empty when saying Brachos. The best thing is to remove the rings and place them down on the counter or table before washing.

2) Women who wear nail polish may wash on top of the nail polish, since they want the polish there, it is considered part of the hand and isn’t a Chatzitza (This Halacha is for hand washing only, and should not be applied  for a woman going to the Mikvah, as inthat case she needs to remove the nail polish).

However, if the polish is cracking and brittle and she plans to remove it, she must do so before being able to wash Netilas Yadayim.

Men may not wash on top of nail polish, even if they want it there, as it isn’t the norm for men to wear nail polish.

One who has a band-aid on his/her hand must remove it for washing, lest it fall off during the meal. However, if by removing the band-aid it will cause pain or puss to develop, it is not a Chatzitza and may be left on.

If the band-aid falls off or is removed during the meal, the hands must be rewashed before continuing to eat. (Mishna Berura Siman 162:71. See also Sha’ar HaTzion Os 58 where he debates whether the entire hand must be rewashed or just the place where the bandage was)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18 2009

1)When washing for Netilas Yadayim, the hands must be washed with the “force of a person” (in Halachic terms known as “Koach Gavra”). In other words, the water must be poured over your hands by a human and not from a stream of water that is flowing or from a cup of water that has overturned by itself. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 159: 7-9 and Mishna Berura 60-62. See also Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil V’Im Haysa Mutah, that without Koach Gavra it doesn’t work even B’Dieved)

2) In the event that one does not have a cup with which to wash for Netilas Yadayim, the following procedure should be followed: Open the faucet and let the water go over your hand. Close the faucet. Open the faucet again and let the water flow over your hand again.

The reason for this is that the opening of the faucet is indeed considered “force of a person”, but only for the initial water that comes out and not for the water that now continues to flow. Therefore, by re-opening the faucet a second time, you now caused “force of a person” to happen a second time. (Mishna Berura 159: 63 and 64. See Shu”t Eretz Tzvi Vol. 1 Siman 87.This should only be relied upon in extreme circumstances when no cup is available, as there are other problems that may arise when using this method.)

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 19 2009

1) Anybody above the age of 6 years may wash another person’s hands for Netilas Yadayim. (Mishna Berura 159:70 explains that a child younger than six has no idea what he is doing, and thus isn’t considered “force of a person” The Gaon of Vilna argues and allows it, as according to him it isn’t an issue of “Da’as- understanding what is being done”.)

Even someone who themselves did not wash their hands, may assist in washing your hands.

2) L’Chatchilah it is best not to have your hands washed by a woman in her days of impurity (Nidah), or by a non Jew at any time, as the Chazal deemed them impure. (Mishna Berura 159:69. The Mekor Chaim maintains that a man may not have his hands washed by a married woman, other than his wife, any time, regardless if she is a Nidah or not. See Shulchan Aruch even HaEzer Siman 21:5.)

When a woman is a Nidah she is forbidden from washing her husband’s hands , and the husband is forbidden from washing his wife’s hands.

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, MARCH 20 2009

(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh0

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1) The hands should be totally dry before washing for Netilas Yadayim. (Even though, from the Mishna Berura 162:49 it seems that if a full Revi’is is used to wash the hands, as is usually the case today, it isn’t necessary to start with dry hands, many Poskim disagree, including the Ba’al HaTanya, The Chazon Ish, the Malbim in Artzos HaChaim and others. Therefore it is worthwhile to be stringent with this, as according to these Poskim you are not Yotzei if the hand is even a drop wet.)

2) The water must be poured over the entire hand until the wrist (opinion of many Rishonim, brought in Mishna Berura 161:21 where he says it is important not to be lenient with this Halacha)

It is important to be sure that the water touches every spot on the hand, the entire length and breadth of every finger. It is good to raise the hands upwards after washing to ensure that the water does indeed flow back down onto every part of the fingers and hand. (See Pri Megadim 162:7 that if even one small spot was missed, it’s worse than a Chatzitza and the washing is not valid. See also Kaf HaChaim 162:43. We will see more about raising the hands while washing next week iy”H)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) It is praiseworthy to use an abundance of water for Netilas Yadayim and not to fill the cup sparingly, as to ensure that the washing will conform to the aforementioned requirements. (See end of Biur Halacha Siman 162 Dibur Hamaschil V’Ra’U Linhog)

In extreme situations (B’Sha’as haDchak, if there isn’t enough water, if one has a wound on his hand which can’t get wet or similar scenarios) the hands may be washed only until the [second] knuckles (as there are Rishonim who maintain that  this is always the shiur for Netilas Yadayim. See Mishna Berura 161:21)
The above leniency is only if the hand is otherwise clean. However if the hand is dirty or soiled, according to all opinions  it must be washed in its entirety in order to be a valid Netilas Yadayim ( See Mishna Berura 161:22)

2) L’Chatchilah, each hand should be washed twice; once to remove the Tumah, impurities, from the hand and a second time to remove the initial water that became impure as soon as it made contact with your impure hands.

However, M’Ikar HaDin, according to the letter of the law, if a Revi’is of water was poured over the hand at one time, it does not become impure and it suffices for Netilas Yadayim with that one washing.  It is still best to be stringent and wash each hand twice. ( See Aruch HaShulchan 162:9 and Sha’ar Hatzion 162:18)

If one uses the amount of water that would suffice for two washings, and pours it all on his/her hand at once it is considered like he/she washed twice. This is L’Chatchilah according to many Poskim, though  a small separation should be made while the water is being poured, so it should seem like two separate flows of water , and there are Kabalistic reasons to have “two” washings per hand besides the Halachic reasons, which in this case wouldn’t apply. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 162:2. The  Kaf HaChaim 162:2 writes that “Al Pi Sod”  it is required to wash 3 times each hand whenever one washes their hands.

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 22 2009

1) As we mentioned in the Halachos of last week, it is a good idea to raise the hands upwards after washing them to ensure that the water touches every part of the hands.

If an abundance of water is used there is less of a concern that the water will miss any parts of the hands, and in that case it isn’t as necessary to lift the hands.

However, according to kabalistic reasons, it is important to raise the hands upwards after washing them, even if a lot of water was used. (See Mishna Berura 162:9, Aruch HaShulchan 162:7 and Kaf HaChaim 162:6 and 7)

2) The hands should remain raised from immediately after being washed the second time until after they are dried (Mishna Berura 162:3)

It is important to keep in mind that if one is in a situation where he/she has less than a Revi’is of water with which to wash for Netilas Yadayim, then he/she must, Al Pi Din- according to the letter of the law, raise their hands in order that the water can trickle down and reach each and every part of the hand. (Mishna Berura 162:4 and 11)

If at all possible, it is always good to wash each hand with a Revi’is of water, as doing so will prevent many Halachic problems afterwards.

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, MARCH 23 2009

1)After washing for Netilas Yadayim, while the hands are still wet, it is important to be careful not to touch (or be touched by) someone who did not yet wash their hands [properly].

If the wet hands were indeed touched by someone who did not yet wash, you must dry your hands and re-wash them without a Bracha.

2) If the hands were already dried when they were touched by someone who didn’t wash, there is no need to rewash the hands. (See Mishna Berura 162:56. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 162:13)

If two people who washed their hands [properly] touch each other’s hands, even while still wet, there is no need for them to re-wash. (See Aruch HaShulchan 162:17)

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 24 2009

1)The proper procedure for washing for Netilas Yadayim is as follows:

The washing cup should be held in the right hand, filled with water, and then transferred to the left hand. The right hand should then be washed [twice]. The cup should then be transferred to the right hand, filled with water (if necessary), and the left hand should then be washed [twice]. (Mogen Avraham in introduction to Siman 158. Also brought in the Siddur Ya’avetz and in the name of the Gaon of Vilna)

A left handed person should also follow the above procedure, and wash his right hand first. (See Mishna Berura Siman 4:22)

Similarly, if one’s hands are being washed by someone else, the right hand is washed first as well. (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 3 Siman 32)

2) The hands may be washed either into a utensil [or sink] or onto the ground, as there is no problem of “Ruach Ra- impure spirit” with this water [unlike by Negel Vasser where it may not be poured on the ground.] This is common when washing for bread at a picnic or other outdoor venues, when no sink or receptacle is available to wash into. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 162:16)

According to some opinions [based on the Arizal], Netilas Yadayim [and the Bracha of "Al Netilas Yadayim"] must be done while standing. According to other opinions, this isn’t necessary. (See Mogen Avraham beginning of Siman 8 that standing isn’t necessary. The Ya’avetz maintains that one should stand.  See also   Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 171.)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25 2009

1) Netilas Yadayim should not be washed in a bathroom, even if the hands are dried only after walking out of the bathroom, as the hands will once again become impure from being in the bathroom.  (See Igros Moshe Even HaEzer Vol. 1 end of Siman 114)

Likewise, if the hands were washed outside of the bathroom and the bathroom was then entered while the hands were still wet, the hands must be rewashed outside of the bathroom. (See Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 24:26)

In cases of extreme necessity (Sha’as HaDchak) some Poskim allow the washing in a bathroom as long as the hands were not dried until after leaving the bathroom. This is common when traveling and the only sink available is in a rest stop bathroom or when on an airplane. (See Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak Vol. 1 Siman 60. However, R’ Shmuel Wosner Shlita (quoted in  Kobetz M’Beis Levi Vol. 7)only allows this if the bathroom is clean of excrement etc. and does not have a bad smell. This is often not the case in rest stops and airplanes, so keep this in mind.)

One may take water from a bathroom sink, and wash with that water outside of the bathroom. (See Shu”t Har Tzvi Siman 50)

2) After washing the hands for Netilas Yadayim, the hands should be rubbed together well in order to clean them, and also in case the water didn’t hit a particular spot on the hand, the rubbing will wash that spot. However, if this wasn’t done, washing over is not necessary. (See Mishna Berura 162:23 and 24. See Pri Megadim 162:7. See Kaf HaChaim 162:2 that according to kabalistic reasons, the hands should be rubbed together 3 times.)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 26 2009

1) One who uses the bathroom immediately before a meal where  bread will be eaten, is presented with a quandary, as follows:

  • If the hands are washed and “Asher Yatzar” (The Bracha required immediately after using the facilities) is said  followed by “Al Netilas Yadayim” (The Bracha required before eating bread), it will be a “Hefsek- separation” between the washing and the blessing on the washing.

  • If “Al Netilas Yadayim” is said first and followed by the “Asher Yatzar”, it will be a Hefsek between the washing and the “Hamotzi” you will say on the bread.

  • Pushing off “Asher Yatzar” until after you eat the bread is also not L’Chatchilah, as it is supposed to be recited as soon as possible after using the bathroom.

Therefore, the best thing to do in this situation is to wash the hands after exiting the bathroom without a cup straight from the faucet (as such a washing suffices for after the bathroom, but not for Netilas Yadayim for bread) and recite “Asher Yatzar”.

Then the hands should be[dried, according to Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal and others, and then] washed again, this time with a cup, and “Al Netilas Yadayim” recited.

2) The above Halacha is L’Chatchilah. However, B’dieved it isn’t a real Hefsek to say “Asher Yatzar” between the Netilas Yadayim and the “Hamotzi”. Therefore if one washed his hands for the meal  after using the bathroom with a cup, he/she should  recite “Al Netilas Yadayim” followed immediately by “Asher Yatzar” and then make “Hamotzi on the bread and eat.

According to many Poskim, the aforementioned “B’dieved” method, is actually L’Chatchilah, therefore it may surely be relied upon in situations where washing twice is difficult. (That this method is L’Chatchilah is the opinion of the Gaon of Vilna in Ma’aseh Rav,  Ba’al HaTanya in Seder Netilas Yadayim Siman 6, Ya’avetz in his siddur, Chazon Ish Siman 24:30 and  Aruch HaShulchan 165:2. See Mishna Berura 165:2 and 3 at length  and Sha’ar Hatzion ibid. 2. See Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 168 where he writes that “Al Netilas Yadayim” should be recited when the hands are wet, and “Asher Yatzar” should only be recited after the hands are dried. He says that this was the minhag of the Chofetz Chaim)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, MARCH 27 2009

(Double Issue L’kavod shabbos)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1) Before eating bread the following blessing must be recited, after washing: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher KidShanu B’Mitzvosav, V’tzivanu Al Netilas Yadayim- Blessed are you Hashem, master of the world who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wash (i.e. sanctify) our hands”.

This text (i.e. “hands” in the plural) is recited even if washing only one hand (for medical or any other acceptable reason) (See Kaf HaChaim Siman 158:4 and Shu”t Yechaveh Da’as  Vol. 2 Siman 19. The Aruch HaShulchan 163:2 maintains that no Bracha is made when only one hand is washed.)

2) One who washes for Netilas Yadayim and makes the Bracha, and then changes their mind and does not want to eat, may  do this, and it isn’t a Bracha L’vatalah (a blessing in vain) as at the time of the washing their intent was indeed to eat.

L’Chatchilah, however, it is best to eat a little bread. (Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 25:9 based on a Ritv”a in Maseches Chulin 106. See also Kaf HaChaim 158:6)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) It is best not make a Hefsek (interruption) between the washing of  the hands and the recital of the Bracha (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 158:16)

“Those who are [more]careful not to talk between reciting “Al Netilas Yadayim” and reciting “Hamotzi”, yet [are lax and] talk between washing the hands and reciting the “Al Netilas Yadayim” are mistaken [in their priorities of when it's more important to not make a Hefsek]” (Direct quote of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 165:1)

It is best  not to talk after even one hand is washed, as the obligation to recite the Bracha is already in place after the first hand is washed. (See Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos Vol. 2 Siman 115)

The hands should not be dried or rubbed together, while reciting the Bracha; rather one should concentrate solely on the words he/she is saying.

2) Usually when doing Mitzvos, the Bracha is made before the Mitzvah is done (Over L’Asiyaso). However, since the hands are often not clean before the washing, Chazal instituted that by Netilas Yadayim the Mitzvah (washing) is done first and only then is the Bracha recited.

However, in order to make the Bracha before the Mitzvah is totally completed, the Bracha should be recited before the hands are dried (as the drying is also a part of the Mitzvah)

If one forgot and dried his/her hands, B’dieved, the Bracha can still be made afterwards as long as the “Hamotzi” was not recited on the bread. (See Shulchan Aruch, Ram”a and Mishna Berura Siman 158:11. See also Chayei Adam Siman 40:4 and  Be’er Heitev 158:18 for other opinions in this Halacha)

Some people have the custom to say the Posuk “Se’U Yedeichem Kodesh, U’Barchu Es Hashem” (Tehillim 134) before reciting the Bracha of “Al Netilas Yadayim”. They must be aware to make sure to not begin drying the hands until after the entire Bracha is recited. (See Mishna Berura 158:44. According to the Shl”a saying this Posuk is not a Hefsek. The Gaon of Vilna, the Ba’al HaTanya and others, however, maintain that it should not be said as it is indeed a Hefsek. Each person should follow their established custom with regard to this)

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 29 2009

1) The hands must be dried very well after washing [and reciting the Bracha].

Chazal (Talmud Sotah 4b)say that one who eats bread with wet hands is as if he is eating  impure bread, because some of the water that became impure due to  the [first]washing will ultimately transfer some of the impurities onto the bread. (See Mishna Berura 158:45)

The above applies even if a lot of water was poured on the hands at once (and thus the water never becomes impure), as eating with wet hands is considered repulsive (Mishna Berura 158:46 quoting the MaHarshal  that this is the primary reason, and not the reason of  impurity, based on Rashi Sotah 4b)

2) The hands must be dried with a towel [or similar cloth], as the act of drying the hands helps to clean the hands properly.

Letting the hands dry on their own or via an electric air blower is not L’Chatchilah. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 158:17. See Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 8 Siman 52 and Vol.9 Siman 64 where he tries to find a leniency for using the air blowers. Similarly other Poskim say that B’Sha’as HaDchak the air blower should be used, rather than letting the hands dry on their own)

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, MARCH 30 2009

1) A towel that is very wet (common in certain Shuls where they have one large towel for everybody to use) should not be used for drying the hands after Netilas Yadayim. (See Kaf HaChaim 162:46. Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita in Shu”t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 7 Siman 21:1 maintains that today’s days when most people wash with an abundance of water, it is only a problem if the towel is wet enough to actually make a dry hand wet with the water that is in it (Halchically known as Tofeach Al M’Nas L’Hatfiach)

2) The hands should not be dried with your shirt, and preferably not on any other articles of clothing either. (Mishna Berura 158:45. See Aruch HaShulchan 158:17 and Kaf HaChaim 158:87. B’Sha’as HaDchak when no towel is available, drying the hands with pants or skirt or other clothing is better than with  your shirt, as with your shirt it is surely “Kashe L’Shikcha” and with other articles of clothing it is only a “Safek”)

There is a debate amongst the Poskim if the above Halacha of not using cloting to dry the hands is only after Netilas Yadayim for bread or  also for any time one washes the hands  during the day. There is also a debate as to whether it is only prohibited while the clothing are being worn, or even if the clothing are not on you. It is best to be stringent. (See Shu”t Rivevos efraim Vol. 1 Siman126 at length.)

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 31 2009

1) Before washing for Al Netilas Yadayim, it is important to ensure that the table is set and ready for the meal and that the bread, salt and breadknife  is already on the table. [Alternately, if one is simply eating a piece of bread or a sandwich and not setting the table, it is important to make sure that the bread or sandwich is prepared and ready to eat immediately after washing the hands.]

Before washing, it is important to check and make sure that a towel is available with which to dry the hands. All of the above is to ensure that there isn’t even a short Hefsek, interruption, between the washing and the eating. (See Kaf HaChaim 166:3)

2) The Bracha of Hamotzi [on the bread] should be said as soon as humanly possible after the washing.

It is forbidden to talk between the washing of the hands and the reciting of “Hamotzi”, even a short comment and even talking words of Torah is forbidden.

Saying words that are necessary for the reciting of “Hamotzi”, such as saying “salt” or “knife” to indicate that those items are needed is permitted. (See Mishna Berura 165:7 and 166:2. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav  166:1 and some other Poskim maintain that saying two  or three words such as “yes please” or “Of course not” are not considered a Hefsek and are permitted.)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1 2009

1) Nothing, not even something simple and insignificant, should be done between washing Al Netilas Yadayim and “Hamotzi”, unless it is directly necessary to the meal. (See Mishna Berura 166:1. See Shu”t Az Nidberu Vol. 10 Siman 8:2 that B’Dieved B’Sa’as HaDchak certain things are permitted, as long as they don’t require much concentration. See also Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman25:8)

Simply waiting for no reason between the Al Netilas Yadayim and the Hamotzi, even without doing anything or talking, should also be avoided.

Waiting [from after the hands are completely dried until Hamotzi is recited] for more than the time that it takes to walk 22 Amos (approximately 44 feet) is considered a Hefsek. The time it takes to dry the hands is not counted. (See Mishna Berura 166:4 and Kaf HaChaim 166:9. According to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 166:1 if in the time that you “waited” you were doing something pertaining to the meal, it isn’t considered a Hefsek, even longer than 22 Amos, though he writes that L’Chatchilah it should be avoided.  The Aruch HaShulchan 166:1and 2 even goes so far as to say that waiting in such a case is L’Chatchilah)

2) The above Halacha is for meals during the week. On Shabbos, however, when the custom is to wait for everyone to wash and only then recite “Hamotzi”, where it certainly takes more than “22 Amos” to do this, many Poskim say that the Halacha doesn’t apply. (Aruch HaShulchan ibid. writes that on Shabbos nobody is running anywhere, so their minds are on the Seudah even longer than 22 Amos. Other Poskim maintain that waiting for everyone to wash and sit down is considered “necessary” for the meal. Some Poskim argue and are stringent, and require everyone at the table to have their own 2 Chalos, even on Shabbos, as to avoid waiting more than 22 Amos.)

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 2 2009

1)Although, as we learned yesterday, it is important to recite Hamotzi as soon as possible after washing Al Netilas Yadayim,  if one indeed did wait longer than the 22 Amos, as long as he/she didn’t take their mind off the meal that is about to be eaten or talk, there is no need to wash again. (Mishna Berura 166:6. See also Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 24:30 towards the end in Dibur Hamaschil K’Shenotel L’Achila)

However, if one did take their mind off the upcoming meal, or did talk or make another Hefsek, the hands must be rewashed, and a new Bracha of “Al Netilas Yadayim”  may need to be recited, as the original washing and Bracha are nullified by the Hefsek. (See Chazon Ish Siman 25:8.)

2) It is permitted to answer “Amen” to  someone elses’s “Al netilas yadayim” or to a Bracha that you hear, as well as “Barchu” or other Devarim SheBikedusah (sacred utterances)  between washing for Al Netilas Yadayim and the recital of Hamotzi (see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 41:2)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, APRIL 3 2009

(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1) One who does one of the following things after washing for Netilas Yadayim, even after already eating bread and being in the midst of the meal, must re-wash their hands with all the Halachic guidelines applicable to the initial washing:

  • Touching a place on the body that is usually covered

  • Touching a dirty or sweaty part of the body (or changing a baby’s diaper)

  • Scratching the head (when scalp is reached. Simply touching the hair though , or even scratching a beard is not a problem)

  • Using the bathroom

  • Falling asleep during the meal, even a short nap (See Mishna Berura 178:48)

2) If at the time that the new washing is required, there is bread in the mouth, it may not be swallowed before re-washing. (Mishna Berura 164:8. See Aruch HaShulchan 164:5 that this is only a Chumra and not M’Ikar D’Din)

Even if one does not plan on eating any more bread, as long as the meal is still going on, the hands must be re-washed. (Mishna Berura 170:7)

However, if one touched something dirty that isn’t repulsive (e.g. dust, cement, soil) no re-washing is required. (Mishna Berura 164:4)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) When re-washing the hands in middle of the meal, no Bracha is recited, unless one touched an extremely dirty place or used the bathroom. Some Poskim maintain that even in those cases no Bracha is recited. (See Mishna Berura 164:13 and Biur Halacha Dibur HaMaschil Lachzor that in those cases a new Bracha is recited. See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 164:2 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 40:16 that a Bracha is never made on a re-washing because of Safek Bracha L’Vatalah. See Chazon ish Siman 25:9 who requires a Bracha even when touching covered areas)

2) One who eats bread and takes a “long break” without eating, must re-wash and make a Bracha in order to resume eating bread, as we assume that they have been “Masiach Da’as- interrupted their mind from the meal”, and thus were not careful to keep the hands halachically clean.

What constitutes a “long break”?  The Mishna Berura 170:9 writes that “an hour or two” is considered a long break. (Common at Sheva Brachos, weddings or other parties when there are often speeches or other activities for a long time after eating your last piece of bread.) Other Poskim maintain that as long as you are at the table talking etc., it isn’t considered a break, even for many hours. (See Ketzos HaShulchan Siman 39:16)

If during the “break” you are holding a piece of  bread in your hands, there is no need to wash, even if it was a long break as the bread in your hands is a sufficient reminder that you are in the middle of the meal and the hands need to remain clean. (Mishna Berura ibid. See also Chasam Sofer to Chulin 106 that if one is certain that his hands did not get unclean, he may continue to eat without rewashing, no matter how long the break was.)

 

 

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 2009

1)Netilas Yadayim must be washed using a “Keli- a Utensil”, as Chazal have likened it to the washing that the Kohanim used to do in the Bais HaMikdash before the Avodah, which had to be done with a utensil. (See Shut Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 8 Siman 7:8 and Shu”t Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 1 Siman 120:8 where they expound upon this at great length)

Just as one must exert effort and travel a certain amount to find water (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 163 and archives Halachos for March 13), so too must one exert the same efforts to find a utensil with which to wash.  (See Tzitz Eliezer ibid.)

2) All utensils are acceptable for washing for Netilas Yadayim, even those utensils that aren’t considered utensils for matters pertaining to Tumah and Tahara. (Mishna Berura 159:3)

There is no difference if the utensil is glass, wood, clay, or any other material. (Mishna Berura 159:2)

According to some Poskim, disposable cups are not acceptable for Netilas Yadayim. However, according to many Poskim, if they are hard plastic or any other type that is commonly used at Shabbos, Yom Tov or other important meals, they are permitted. (See Sefer Sharei HaBracha Chapter 2:3, where he writes that the same rules that apply for the cup  for Kiddush apply here as well.)

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 30 2009

1) The utensil that is used for Netilas Yadayim must be intact, not cracked, chipped, broken or have a hole. (See Mishna Berura 159:7)

A pitcher that has a spout through which the water is usually poured out , if the spout is the same height as the rest of the pitcher, it may be used and poured onto the hands via the spout. If the spout is higher than the pitcher, the water should be poured onto the hands via the side of the pitcher and not via the spout. (See Mishna Berura 159:24. See also Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 21:7 and Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion 46:1 for a more stringent view)

2) The utensil must be able to stand on its own accord. Therefore if the base of the glass broke off it is no longer suitable for Netilas Yadayim.

However, if the utensil was initially manufactured as such that it cannot stand on its own, such as cone shaped cups, it is considered an acceptable utensil and may be used for Netilas Yadayim. (See She’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacha to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 40:3 )

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, MAY 1 2009

(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1)Immersing the hands in a body of water which is acceptable for Tevila of the body, is considered an acceptable alternative to washing the hands for “Al Netilas Yadayim” with a  utensil [when no utensil  is available].

Therefore, one may dip his/her hands into a Kosher Mikvah [of standing rain water], a stream or in the ocean in lieu of “washing” the hands. (Mishna Berura Siman 159:88)

2) One may “wash” their hands by immersing them in a pile of snow, as long as the pile is large enough to cover both hands adequately. (Mishna Berura Siman 160:58)

If the water was transferred to a utensil, it is no longer acceptable to immerse the hands in it, as only in the state where it is Kosher for Mikvah immersion is it Kosher for immersing the hands. (See Mishna Berura to Siman 159:8)

If the water that one is dipping into is suitable for Netilas Yadayim, the Bracha made is “Al Netilas Yadayim”. If the water would not be suitable to  wash with, the Bracha made is “Al Tevilas Yadayim” (Mogen Avraham 159:31)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) When washing the hands for Al Netilas Yadayim  it is commendable to use a lot of water, as Chazal tell us that one who washes with an abundance of water will be blessed with an abundance of blessings from heaven.

However, one should not do this  for the sake of receiving heavenly reward, as we are supposed to perform Mitzvos properly for the sake of Hashem’s honor and not in order to get reward.

2) One who is scrupulous in performing Netilas Yadayim properly , yet doesn’t find that they are being blessed with wealth, should know that their own actions (or inactions) in other areas of serving Hashem are depriving them of this extra blessing. (Mishna Berura 158:38. See also Kaf HaChaim 158:81)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, MAY 3

2) One who is scrupulous in performing Netilas Yadayim properly , yet doesn’t find that they are being blessed with wealth, should know that their own actions (or inactions) in other areas of serving Hashem are depriving them of this extra blessing. (Mishna Berura 159:38. See also Kaf HaChaim 159:81)

1)In the event that no water is available for Netilas Yadayim, B’Sha’as HaDchak (in extreme situations), the hands may be washed with other beverages [besides wine], without a Bracha.

When water becomes available, the hands need to be re-washed. (Mishna Berura Siman 160:64)

2) M’Ikar Hadin (according to the letter of the law) hot water may be used for Netilas Yadayim. However, L’Chatchila it is best to wait until the water cools enough that you won’t be worried about burning yourself, and thus may not wash properly. (Mishna Berura 160:27)