Chatzitza for Netilat Yadayim

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General Rules of Chatzitza for Netilat Yadayim

  1. One's complete hands[1] must be clean before washing so that the Netilat Yadayim water reaches all parts of the hand.[2]
  2. The general rules[3] are that something which covers a majority of the hands is considered a chatzitza, interposition, to disqualify the netilat yadayim, even if he doesn't care to remove it. Additionally, something that covers a minority of his hands is considered a chatzitza only if he cares to remove it[4] or other people would want it removed.[5]
  3. It isn't necessary to dry your hands before washing Netilat Yadayim unless they were wet from Tameh waters, this is, waters that came from less than a Reviyit and from a vessel.[6]

Common Examples

Rings

  1. If a woman does remove her ring when she kneads dough she has to remove it for netilat yadayim.[7] If a woman doesn't remove her ring to knead dough she doesn't have to remove it for netilat yadayim.[8]

Dirt and Mud

  1. Dirt underneath the fingernail where the nail is on top of the skin isn't a chatzitza since it only covers a minority of the hands and people don't care to remove it, however, dirt beneath the nail that extends beyond the skin is a chatzitza since people do care to remove the dirt there.[9] However, dough beneath any part of the nail is a chatzitza since people would want to remove it.[10]
  2. Dried mud, wet mud from pits, and wet clay are all considered a chatzitza.[11]

Bandages

  1. A bandage or bandaid is a chatzitza.[12] However, a scab which one doesn't care about removing isn't a chatzitza.[13]

Paint and Ink

  1. If a professional painter who often has paint on his hands has dried paint on a minority of his hands it isn't a chatzitza. However, for someone else this would be a chatzitza.[14] The same is true of a shochet if he has blood on his hands or someone who sells fatty meat if he has fat on them.[15]
  2. Wet paint[16], wet mud, or loose dirt isn't a chatzitza because they dissolve in water.[17]
  3. Ink on one's hand isn't a chatzitza if is absorbed in the sink and not clumped up on the skin.[18]

Sources

  1. including the fingers and palm. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:4 writes that netilat yadayim should include the entire hand including the fingers and palm. Even though Shulchan Aruch mentions an opinion that only the fingers need to be washed the Shulchan Aruch concludes that one should follow the first opinion. Mishna Brurah 161:22 supports this ruling except in extenuating circumstances.
  2. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1
  3. The Mishna Brurah 161:1 explains that this halachah is modeled after the laws of chatzitza by dipping in the mikveh, which is a Torah obligation to dip in a mikveh. Regarding mikveh, the halacha is that if one has something covering most of his body and he wants to remove it is considered a chatzitza, an interposition, which makes him not fulfill his Torah obligation to Tovel. However, someone that only covers a minority of his body is only a chatzitza on a rabbinic level. Even though the institution to wash one's hands before a meal is only Rabbinic, the Rabbi's instituted the washing with similar laws to dipping in the mikveh. Even though the Rama 161:1 quotes an opinion that chatzitza isn't an issue by netilat yadayim he concludes that the halacha doesn't follow that opinion.
  4. Mishna Brurah 161:10 explains the Rama to mean that if he cares to remove something which covers a minority of the hand it is a chatzitza.
  5. Mishna Brurah 161:7 writes that if someone doesn't care about something which covers a minority of the hands and majority of other people would care about it, the Tur holds that it isn't a chatzitza but the Magen Avraham and achronim hold it is a chatzitza.
  6. Or Letzion 2:11:9
  7. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:3
  8. Mishna Brurah 161:19 writes that a man who doesn't remove his ring to knead dough doesn't need to remove it for netilat yadayim but if it has a diamond and he is careful it before washing his hands so it doesn't get dirty then he needs to remove it for netilat yadyaim. Or Letzion 2:11:10 explains that if a woman doesn't remove her ring for kneading dough it isn't a chatzitza at all since the ring is something that only occupies a small area of the body and she doesn't care about removing it. He writes that this is true even if it is a diamond ring.
  9. Rama 161:1
  10. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1
  11. Mishna Brurah 161:6
  12. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:1
  13. Rama 161:2
  14. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:2, Mishna Brurah 161:12
  15. Mishna Brurah 161:13
  16. Shulchan Aruch OC 161:2
  17. Mishna Brurah 161:14
  18. Mishna Brurah 161:14