Netilat Yadayim upon Waking Up

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Chazal established that upon waking up a person should wash his hands in the morning prior to davening Shacharit. One reason is because one needs to clean one's hands for davening and at night when sleeping one's hands might touch a dirty area.[1] Another is that we want to remove the negative spirits on our hands after having been recreated each day.[2] An alternate version of this reason is that the negative spirit is a result of the element of death that descends upon a person who sleeps.[3] The details of when and how it should be done are described below:

Procedure for Washing One's Hands

  1. One should wash with a cup or some sort of vessel. [4] If there is no cup available, according to Ashkenazim, if one is in an extenuating circumstance and one wants to pray, one may wash without a cup with a bracha. According to Sephardim, if one washes without a cup, such as if one washes directly from the faucet, one should not recite a bracha. [5]
  2. One should wash up to one's wrists. If there is not enough water available, it is sufficient to wash up to one's major knuckles (where one's fingers connect to the hand). [6]
  3. One should wash one's right hand first, then one's left hand, and repeat this process two more times so that one washes each hand 3 times alternating hands in the process. Some say one should wash each hand 4 times. [7]
  4. Before pouring the water the filled vessel should be picked up with the right hand and passed to the left hand. [8]
  5. Even a lefty should begin to wash their right hand first.[9]
  6. One may not derive benefit from the water that one washed one's hands with.[10]
  7. One should wash one's hands with a bracha in the middle even if one only slept after Chatzot.[11]

Netilat Yadayim in the Bathroom

  1. One shouldn't wash Netilat Yadayim in a bathroom unless there is no other option such as on an airplane.[12]

When Should One Wash One's Hands?

  1. One should wash one's hands immediately after one's recitation of Modeh Ani. [13]
  2. According to Ashkenazim, if one needs to go to the bathroom upon waking up and after going to the bathroom one will be ready for davening, one should wash without a bracha upon waking up and after having gone to the bathroom wash again with the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim. [14]
  3. According to Ashkenazim, if after having gone to the bathroom one will still not be ready for davening and will have to go to the bathroom another time before davening (as is common when one wakes up a long time before davening), one should wash without a bracha upon waking up, wash a second time without a bracha after having gone to the bathroom the first time, and then wash a third time with a bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim when one is ready for davening after having gone to the bathroom a second time. Some say that one does not need to wash before going to the bathroom and also that after having gone to the bathroom one should wash without a cup and without the bracha, and then when one is ready for davening one should wash again using a cup and make the bracha. [15]
  4. According to Sephardim,
    1. If one doesn't have an urgent need to go to the bathroom, it is permitted to get dressed, go to the bathroom, and then wash with the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim. It is preferable to wash before getting dressed and going to the bathroom.[16]
    2. If one needs to go to the bathroom, especially if it is urgent, one should go to the bathroom before washing one's hands. [17]

What Is Permissible before Washing Hands?

  1. It is permissible to say Modeh Ani before washing hands. [18]
  2. It is not permissible to learn or even think Torah before washing one's hands. [19] However, if one is going to miss the chance to make a bracha or answer amen one should just rub his hands against someone to clean them and say the bracha or answer amen. If one slept in pajamas it is unnecessary to even rub them in order to clean them.[20]
  3. One should wash one's hands before walking 4 amot. [21] However some are lenient in this regard. [22]
  4. If the water is further than 4 Amot away some say that it is better to walk less than 4 amot at a time while others say it is better to go there quickly if it is still in the same house. [23]
    1. If a person sleeps in a bunkbed it is permissible to wash within 4 amot of the bed even if one will walk more than 4 amot going down the ladder and to the washing station.[24]
  5. It is permitted to get dressed prior to washing one’s hands. [25]
  6. It is preferable to be strict and not to walk more than 4 amot prior to Netilat Yadayim. [26]
  7. One should not touch any foods before washing one's hands. If one did unintentionally, the food should be washed three times. If this is impossible, one should preferably refrain from eating it. If necessary though, one can eat it without washing it. [27]
  8. One can touch food by the use of a cloth intervening between one's hand and the food.[28]
  9. A person shouldn't touch sefarim before washing his hands. [29]
  10. A person should not touch one's mouth, nose, ears, or eyes before washing hands in the morning.[30]

When Does One Need to Wash Hands?

  1. Before Shacharit or Mincha (specifically the Shmoneh Esrei) one should wash hands if there was a long interruption from the time of the original washing upon rising. [31] If water is not available one does not need to wash one's hands, but only to rub them against something hard. [32]
  2. If one touched an unclean part of the body or went to the bathroom, one must search and find water to wash one's hands without a bracha for Shmoneh Esrei. [33]
  3. However, in order to say Brachot, Kriyat Shema, or learn Torah one does not need to wash one's hands. [34]
  4. If one slept in a bed during the day, one should wash Netilat Yadayim without a bracha. [35]

Someone Who Stayed up All Night

  1. If one slept less than 30 minutes [36] or slept in a temporary fashion (putting one’s head on a table, [37], or slept on a couch or chair) [38] one should wash without a bracha upon awakening. [39]
  2. If one stayed up all night, one should wash in the morning without a bracha. [40]

Someone Who Got Up in the Middle of the Night

  1. If a person wakes up in the middle of the night, wants to get up for some time and then go back to sleep, he should wash his hands without a bracha and then when one wakes up the second time to start his day he should wash with a bracha. [41]
  2. If one wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to take a drink, one should preferably wash one's hands first, but if this is too difficult one can just wipe one's hands on a blanket or the like and then have the drink. [42]

Someone Who Wakes Up Very Early

  1. If one wakes up after Chatzot, and one will still need to go to the bathroom before davening, one should not make the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim until after one went to the bathroom. It should then be said together with Birchot HaShachar, however, if one knows that one will not need to go to the bathroom before davening, one should make the bracha of Netilat Yadayim as close as possible to waking up. [43]
  2. If one washed with a bracha before Olot HaShachar, one should wash again at Olot HaShachar without a bracha. [44]
  3. If one wakes up before Chatzot, one should wash without a bracha, and then after Olot Hashachar one should dirty one’s hands (by touching an unclean area, scratching one's head or by going to the bathroom) and then wash with a bracha. [45]

When to Recite the Bracha

  1. One should recite the bracha immediately after washing one's hands prior to drying them.[46]
  2. Some have the custom to wait until going to shul to make the bracha of netilat yadayim. Sephardim do not have this minhag. In any case, one should not make the bracha twice, once upon both waking up and once going to shul. [47]

If There is Something on One's Hands

See the Chatzitza for Netilat Yadayim page.

Who Is Obligated

  1. Women are equally obligated as men to wash Netilat Yadayim. [48]
  2. There is a difference of opinions at what age children should be taught to wash their hands in the morning. Some say that children should be taught when 5 or 6 years old, while others say that once the child is able to eat on their own, they should be taught to wash Netilat Yadayim. [49]

Sources

  1. Rosh Brachot 9:23
  2. Rashba teshuva 1:191 writes that the reason for netilat yadayim in the morning isn't just because of the davening otherwise one should recite a bracha for netilat yadayim prior to mincha and arvit. Rather the reason is because a person is recreated each day and the the bracha was established like brachot hashachar. It represents preparing ourselves for kedusha just like the kohanim would wash their hands from the Kiyor in the Bet Hamikdash before doing avoda.
  3. Zohar Vayeshev 184b cited by Bet Yosef 4:8
  4. Shulchan Aruch 4:7, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:4, Mishna Brurah 4:15, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu 2:1. The Hagahot Mordechai Brachot 192, Ran Chullin 37b s.v. mipnei, Bet Yosef 4:7 based on Rosh, and Darkei Moshe 4:1 all write that a vessel isn't necessary for Netilat Yadayim in the morning. However, the Rashba teshuva 1:191 writes that a vessel is necessary.
  5. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:6 writes that in an extenuating circumstance when there is no cup available and one wants to pray one should wash without a cup and with a bracha. However, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (comments on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:9) writes that if one washes without a cup one should not make the bracha. Halacha Brurah 4:12 also writes that if one washes from the faucet one should not make the bracha.
  6. Mishna Brurah 4:9 writes that one should wash up to one's wrists and if there happens not to be enough water, it is sufficient to wash up to one's knuckles. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:3 agrees. Ben Ish Chai (Parashat Toldot #2) writes that one must wash until one's wrists except on Yom Kippur and Tisha BeAv when one may only wash up to one's knuckles.
  7. Mishna Brurah 4:9
  8. Ben Ish Hai, Toledot, Halacha 1; Kaf HaChaim 4:12
  9. Kaf HaChaim 4:35, Artzot HaChaim 4:10, Halacha Brurah 4:22
  10. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:4
  11. Ben Ish Chai (Shana Rishona, Toldot no. 16)
  12. Yabia Omer OC 3:1, [Rabbi Mansour www.dailyhalacha.com/m/halacha.aspx?id=2517], Mayan Omer v. 1 p. 25
  13. Shulchan Aruch 4:1
  14. Magen Avraham 4:1 quotes the Ketavim of the Arizal as saying that one should wash with the bracha and then go to the bathroom, however he disagrees and feels that it would be preferable to wash with a bracha after going to the bathroom. He adds that if one needs to go to the bathroom, then it is forbidden to wash with a bracha before going to the bathroom. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:7 and Mishna Brurah 4:4 agree with the Magen Avraham; one should wash with a bracha after going to the bathroom. They add that one should also wash without a bracha before going to the bathroom.
  15. *If one is not going to be ready for davening after having gone to the bathroom the first time, the Beiur Halacha (4:1 s.v. Afliu) presents two opinions about when it is preferable to wash one's hands with the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim. The Chaye Adam holds that it is preferable to wash without a bracha upon waking up and when one is ready for davening to wash again with the bracha, while the Shaarei Teshuva holds that one should wash with the bracha after going to the bathroom even if one is not totally ready for davening. The Beiur Halacha rules like the Chaye Adam that upon waking up one should wash without a bracha and when one is ready for davening to wash again with the bracha.
    • Rav Shlomo Zalman (quoted in Halichot Shlomo Tefilla 2:23, pg 23) rules like the Chaye Adam and states when one is washing one's hands after having gone to the bathroom in the morning and one knows that one will need to go to the bathroom again before davening, the first time one should wash without a bracha and after going to the bathroom the second time when one is ready for davening one should wash with the bracha.
    • Rav Mordechai Willig in Am Mordechai (Brachot, Siman 11, pg 45-8) writes that one should go to the bathroom, wash without a cup, and then when one is ready for davening wash again with a cup and make the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim.
  16. Yalkut Yosef (vol 1, pg 384, 4:40) writes that a person may get dressed and go to the bathroom before washing his hands. Those who are strict upon themselves to set up a cup of water near their bed to wash before going to the bathroom should be blessed. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Halichot Olam (v. 1, p. 32) disagrees with the Ben Ish Chai (Toldot #6) who says that one should not touch one's clothes before Netilat Yadayim and Rav Ovadya holds that it is permitted to get dressed and go to the bathroom before washing. This is quoted by Rabbi Mansour on dailyhalacha.com.
    • Yalkut Yosef (v. 1, p. 388) writes that it is a bad idea to wash before going to the bathroom and only recite the bracha afterwards since that means you're going to make the bracha after drying your hands, which is a major dispute in which the Rambam says one may not recite the bracha.
    • He also says that following the practice of the Mishna Brurah to wash upon waking up with a bracha and then again going to the bathroom with a bracha since it means that you might have been yotzei already with the first washing and if so, you're making the bracha after drying your hands. Halacha Brurah (v. 1, p. 55) agrees with Yalkut Yosef and added that his father, Rav Ovadia Yosef, washed after getting dressed and going to the bathroom all the time.
  17. Yalkut Yosef 4:40 and Halacha Brurah 4:4 write that if one needs to go to the bathroom, especially if it is urgent, one should first go to the bathroom and then wash one's hands with a bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim.
  18. Mishna Brurah 1:8, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:2, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:6
  19. Mishna Brurah 1:8, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:6, Yalkut Yosef 4:27
  20. Yalkut Yosef 4:27. A similar idea is found in Eliyah Rabba 227:6, Mishna Brurah 227:10.
  21. Mishna Brurah 1:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 2:1. See also Piskei Teshuvot 1:7 who writes that the minhag is that one should wash one's hands even before putting one's feet on the ground.
  22. BeYitzchak Yikrah 1:2 comments that the tradition from the Gra that the Ruach Rah on hands was nullified with the death of Rabbi Avraham the Ger applies only to laws of the Zohar and not the Talmud Bavli and since this law is sourced in the Zohar, there is reason to be lenient. Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi (Or Yitzchak 1:1) writes that Rav Aharon Kotler wasn't careful about washing within 4 amot of waking up and goes on to defend such a position.
  23. Mishna Brurah 1:2
  24. Chelkat Yakov OC 1:1
  25. Yalkut Yosef (vol 1 pg 7), Sh”t Yabia Omer 5:1, Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:1
  26. The Tolat Yacov (Seder Netilat Yadayim) quotes the Zohar saying that it is forbidden to walk 4 amot prior to washing Netilat Yadayim. (1) The Bach (beginning of 4) writes that S”A did not quote the Zohar because many people would not be able to fulfill the law. Sh”t Shevut Yacov 3:1 defends the minhag by saying that either the entire law of the Zohar is not applicable since the Talmud Balvi argues on it, or that the entire house is considered within 4 amot. The Eliyah Rabba 1:4 argues on the Shevut Yacov but defends the minhag by saying that perhaps the law does not apply nowadays. The Lechem Mishna (Shevitat Esor 3:12) and Yam Shel Shlomo (Chullin 31)agree. (2) On the other hand the Chida (Birkei Yosef 1:1) writes that it is a serious Halacha, most people are strict about, therefore if the water is far away one should walk less than 4 amot at a time to get the water. So writes the Shalmei Tzibbur 18c, Chesed LeAlaphim 4:12, Ruach Chaim 4:1, and Petach Dvir 4:1. However, the Shaarei Teshuva 1:2 and Siddur Bet Ovad 6:3 argue that if the water is far away one should rush to get to the water as soon as one can. (3) In conclusion, Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 1:2 writes in the name of Rav Ovadyah Yosef that in cases of need, one may rely on the lenient opinions especially if one went to sleep after Chatzot. So too, Mishna Brurah 1:2 writes that one may rely on the Shevut Yacov (that a house is like 4 amot) in cases of great need.
  27. Mishna Brurah 4:14, Yalkut Yosef 4:35, Yabia Omer OC 4:1, Otzrot Yosef 1:10. Bet Yosef 4:5 clarifies that according to Rashi and Tur there's no issue with someone who didn't wash netilat yadayim to touch food and that's his opinion in Shulchan Aruch 4:5. However, the Bach 4:2, Taz 4:4, and Biur Hagra 4:4 argue with the Bet Yosef's understanding and say that someone who didn't wash netilat yadyaim should be very careful not to touch food.
  28. Chaye Adam 2:2 cited by Yabia Omer 4:1
  29. Yalkut Yosef 4:33
  30. Shulchan Aruch 4:3. Halacha Brurah 4:23 says we're machmir not to even touch these areas even just the skin on the outside.
  31. Shulchan Aruch 92:5 writes that if there was an interruption between the washing upon rising in the morning and praying, one should wash one's hands if water is available. This is brought down in Yalkut Yosef (Tefilah pg 330).
  32. Mishna Brurah 92:26 writes that since one cannot find water for Stam hands (they are in doubt as to their cleanliness) one does not need to wash them, but should rub them against that which cleanses them.
  33. Mishna Brurah 92:27 writes that this applies only if one has Stam hands(they are in doubt as to their cleanliness). Shulchan Aruch is lenient and states one does not have to search for water if it is not around, however if there is a certain impurity such as if one touched an unclean area or went to the bathroom, one certainly must wash hands. Kaf Hachayim 4:86 writes that if one is in the middle of the Shmoneh Esrei and one realizes one touched something that would obligate one to wash, one should just wipe one's hands on "midi diminakei" such as one's clothes, wood, or stone.
  34. Mishna Brurah 92:25 writes that implied in the Shulchan Aruch is, that not only does Shmoneh Esrei require clean hands, but for learning Torah, Kriyat Shema or Brachot Stam hands (they are in doubt, they are not certainly clean or unclean) are sufficient. However, Mishna Brurah also quotes the Pri Megadim 4, who writes that Kriyat Shema does need washed hands.
  35. Halacha Brurah 4:47
  36. Kitzur S”A 2:8, Dinei Nieyor Kol HaLaylah (pg 42) in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky
  37. Ishei Yisrael 2:33 note 110, Piskei Teshuvot
  38. Halacha Brurah 4:47
  39. Mishna Brurah 4:27, Ishei Yisrael 2:33, Birkei Yosef 4:5
  40. The Shulchan Aruch 4:13 writes that there is a doubt whether one makes a bracha on Netilat Yadayim the morning after staying up all night. Similarly, the Rama (4:13) comments that one should do Netilat Yadayim without a bracha.
    • The source of the Shulchan Aruch's doubt is the dispute for doing Netilat Yadayim in the morning. The Rosh (Brachot 9:23) says because one's hands are "עסקניות" (literally busy) and they may have touched an unclean part of the body during one's sleep, one is obligated to do Netilat Yadayim in the morning. To support to his view, that we wash our hands for cleanliness before prayer, he quotes the pasuk from Tehilim 26:6 "אֶרְחַץ בְּנִקָּיוֹן כַּפָּי ". On the other hand, the Rashba (Teshuvat HaRashba 1:191) argues on the Rosh claiming that there is no source for the idea of the Rosh. Rather the reason is that we are purifying our hands for the whole day (theoretically even to cover washing before bread) and the reason that we do it specifically before Shacharit is that when we wake up in the morning it is as if we are created anew as it says in Eicha 3:23 חֲדָשִׁים לַבְּקָרִים רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ.
    • A practical difference (explained by the Bet Yosef 4:13) that emerges from this dispute would be the case of a person who did not go to sleep at night. According to the Rosh, since one did not go to sleep there is no doubt that as to whether a person touched an unclean area and so, there is no need for Netilat Yadayim. On the other hand, the Rashba holds that since we are created new everyday we need Netilat Yadayim even if one did not go to sleep that night. Another concern that compounds the doubt of the Shulchan Aruch is the aspect of רוח רעה that is mentioned by the Tur (4:1), taking that into consideration even according to the Rosh one should still need to do Netilat Yadayim. Though based on a quote from the Zohar (Vayishlach 169b), the Bet Yosef ( Ibid) argues that the issue of רוח רעה only applies to the nighttime.
    • Rav Ovadiah (Chazon Ovadiah, Shavuot, note 25) mentions that even though the Maharsham (3:126) holds that one even makes a bracha on Netilat Yadayim of Birkat Cohanim and going to the bathroom, we do not hold like the Maharsham in this Halacha.
    • The Mishna Brurah (4:27) adds that if one indeed went to sleep and had a שינת קבע (a substantial sleep) on one's bed, then one makes Netilat Yadayim with a bracha.
  41. Piskei Teshuvot 1:6 writes that it is preferable to wash when one wakes up the first time, however, one shouldn't recite a bracha since one is not ready to daven as in Beiur Halacha 4:1 s.v. Afilu. Halichot Shlomo (Tefillah pg 170) and Yalkut Yosef 4:25 agree.
  42. Or Letzion 2:1:8
  43. Beiur Halacha 4:1 s.v. Afilu as ruling like the Chaye Adam, Ishei Yisrael 2:31, Dinei Nieyor Kol HaLaylah (pg 42), Halichot Olam 2:23, See Piskei Teshuvot 4:2 who writes that it is both legitimate to hold and practice like either the Chaye Adam or like the Mekubalim
  44. Shulchan Aruch 4:14, Mishna Brurah 4:31, Ishei Yisrael 2:31
  45. Beiur Halacha 4:13 s.v. Kol, Ishei Yisrael 2:32, Dinei Nieyor Kol HaLaylah (pg 41)
  46. Mishna Brurah 6:2 writes that one should recite the bracha prior to drying one's hands, however, some are strict to recite the bracha only after drying them. The Ben Ish Chai (Toldot no. 5) says that the Sephardi minhag is to recite the bracha prior to drying one's hands. Yalkut Yosef 4:19 and Kaf HaChaim 4:8 agree.
  47. Shulchan Aruch 6:2
  48. Pri Megadim (M"Z 4:7), Mishna Brurah 4:10, Kaf Hachayim 4:20, Yalkut Yosef 4:15, and Halacha Brurah 4:21. Kaf HaChaim points out that in fact, women may have a greater obligation because they have more control over the purity of their houses since they prepare the food and feed the children.
  49. *Shulchan Aruch Harav 4:2, Eishel Avraham OC 4, and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo 20:25 say that the obligation for children to wash begins at the age of chinuch as for other mitzvot which is approximately 5 or 6.
    • Mishna Brurah 4:10 (based on Pri Megadim 7) says the obligation begins at the time when the child begins to eat on their own. Ben Ish Hai, Toledot 10 agrees.
    • Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky in Emet LeYacov 4:10 says that it begins when a child is old enough to say amen to a bracha or recite a pasuk in Torah.
    • The Kaf Hachayim 4:23 and Ben Ish Chai (Toldot #10) say that even a newborn's hands should be washed by their parents. See further Rabbi Neustadt at torah.org