SECTION 161 The Laws Governing Intervening Substances and Immersion. (1–8)

קסא דִּינֵי חֲצִיצָה וּטְבִילָה,א וּבוֹ ח' סְעִיפִים:

1 Any1 entity that is considered as an intervening substance with regard to the immersion of one’s entire body2 is considered as an intervening substance with regard to washing one’s hands.3 For our Sages established all their ordinances in a manner resembling Scriptural practice.4 Therefore, one must be meticulous concerning5 any entity that he is particular about removing from his body on occasion.6 For example, if there is filth underneath one’s nail above the flesh of one’s finger — i.e., he has a large nail that extends above the flesh of his finger and there is filth under this additional portion7 — [the filth] must be removed before washing.8 [The rationale is] that most people are particular about removing [such filth] because they consider it disgusting. Thus it is not considered inconsequential with regard to the hand and is categorized as an intervening substance — even for one who personally is not bothered by [the presence of such filth].9

Most individuals are bothered when there is dough under their nails, even under the portion that is opposite the flesh.10 [Such dough] is therefore considered an intervening substance for all people with regard to the washing of hands.

א א כָּל1 דָּבָר הַחוֹצֵץ בִּטְבִילַת כָּל הַגּוּף2 – חוֹצֵץ בִּנְטִילַת יָדַיִם,ב,3 שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁתִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים ג תִּקְּנוּ כְּעֵין שֶׁל תּוֹרָה,ד,4 וּלְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ (לְטַהֵר) [לִזָּהֵר] מִכָּל5 דָּבָר שֶׁמַּקְפִּידִים עָלָיו לַהֲסִירוֹ לִפְעָמִים.ה,6

כְּגוֹן צוֹאָה ו שֶׁתַּחַת הַצִּפֹּרֶן שֶׁלֹּא כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר,ז דְּהַיְנוּ אִם הַצִּפֹּרֶן גָּדוֹל וְעוֹדֵף עַל בְּשַׂר הָאֶצְבַּע ח וְיֵשׁ שָׁם צוֹאָה תַּחַת עֹדֶף זֶה7 – צָרִיךְ לַהֲסִירָהּ קֹדֶם נְטִילָה,8 לְפִי שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהַקְפִּיד ט עָלֶיהָ י מִשּׁוּם מִאוּס,יא לָכֵן אֵינָהּ בְּטֵלָה לְגַבֵּי הַיָּד יב וְחוֹצֶצֶת אַף לְמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלֶיהָ.יג,9

וּבָצֵק שֶׁתַּחַת הַצִּפֹּרֶן יד אֲפִלּוּ כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר,טו,10 דֶּרֶךְ רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהַקְפִּיד עָלָיו,טז וְחוֹצֵץ לְכָל אָדָם כְּשֶׁרוֹחֲצִים יְדֵיהֶם: יז

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2 When one’s flesh is bandaged, if the bandage does not cover a wound, but [was placed there because of] an ache and may be removed whenever he desires, he must remove it before washing.11 If, however, it covers a wound, he need not wash the bandaged area at all, as will be explained in sec. 162[:15].11

ב רְטִיָּה שֶׁעַל בְּשָׂרוֹ, אִם אֵין שָׁם מַכָּה אֶלָּא מִחוּשׁ בְּעָלְמָא יח וְיוּכַל לַהֲסִירָהּ מָתַי שֶׁיִּרְצֶה יט – צָרִיךְ לַהֲסִירָהּ קֹדֶם נְטִילָה.כ,10 אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ שָׁם מַכָּה – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִטֹּל כְּלָל בִּמְקוֹם הָרְטִיָּה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קס"ב: כא,11

3 Mud from mud-holes12 and potters’ clay which adhere very tightly [to one’s flesh] and prevent water from seeping under them are considered intervening substances, whether [found] on the surface of one’s hand or under one’s nail, even on the portion opposite one’s flesh. [This ruling also applies to] all other types of mud and clay that have dried and cling to one’s flesh.10

When, however, there is only a small bit [of mud], which people would not be particular about removing (when they wash and clean their hands), they need not remove it before washing for a meal. The same concept applies concerning small amounts of dough or filth: If most people are not particular [about removing them], they are not considered intervening substances, even if they are located [on the upper part of the nail that is] above the flesh [of the finger]. If a given person is particular [about removing even such a small amount], it is considered as an intervening substance [for him], even though most people are not particular [about removing it].

The reason people are not meticulous in cleaning out the mud under their nails before the ritual washing is because people (in these countries) are not particular (about removing [such mud] when they wash and clean their hands [for ordinary purposes]. Therefore, such mud — even mud from mud-holes and potters’ clay — is not considered an intervening substance if it is opposite one’s flesh. Nevertheless, if a given person is particular [about removing such mud under ordinary circumstances], he must remove it [before the ritual washing]. There are authorities who [differ and] maintain that whenever most people are not meticulous (about removing a substance), even when a given person is, his personal preferences are of no consequence, because they are insignificant in light of the approach of people at large. [Hence, the substance is not considered as intervening.] One may rely on their words concerning the ritual washing of hands, since it is primarily a Rabbinic ordinance, but not with regard to the immersion of one’s entire body, as will be stated in Yoreh Deah, sec. 198.)13

All people must clean nails that are long and protrude above the flesh from the mud and filth under them, because most people are careful about such substances when they are not opposite the flesh. Hence, they are considered as intervening substances even for someone who is not concerned [about doing so], unless the substance is so small that most people would not be particular about [removing] it. (On Shabbos, one should press the flesh under the nail so that one will not scrape the nail while removing the mud.)14

ג טִיט הַבּוֹרוֹת12 וְטִיט הַיּוֹצְרִים כב שֶׁהֵם נִדְבָּקִים בְּיוֹתֵר וּמוֹנְעִים הַמַּיִם מִלָּבוֹא תַּחְתֵּיהֶם,כג וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הַטִּיט כְּשֶׁהוּא יָבֵשׁ כד וְנִדְבַּק בַּבָּשָׂר10 – חוֹצְצִין בֵּין עַל גַּבֵּי הַיָּד בֵּין תַּחַת הַצִּפֹּרֶן, אֲפִלּוּ כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר.כה

אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הוּא דָּבָר מוּעָט שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהַקְפִּיד עָלָיו לַהֲסִירוֹ כו (כְּשֶׁרוֹחֵץ וּמְנַקֶּה יָדָיו) כז – אֵין צָרִיךְ לַהֲסִירוֹ גַּם כֵּן לִנְטִילַת יָדַיִם לַסְּעוּדָה. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְבָצֵק וְצוֹאָה, אִם הֵן מְעַט כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם לְהַקְפִּיד עָלָיו – אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ, אֲפִלּוּ הוּא שֶׁלֹּא כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר.כח

וְאִם הוּא מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו – חוֹצֵץ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הָרֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם מַקְפִּידִים עָלָיו.כט וּמַה שֶּׁלֹּא נָהֲגוּ לְנַקֵּר הַטִּיט שֶׁתַּחַת הַצִּפָּרְנַיִם קֹדֶם הַנְּטִילָה, הוּא מִשּׁוּם שֶׁאֵין מַקְפִּידִין לַהֲסִירוֹ ל (בִּשְׁעַת רְחִיצַת וְנִקְיוֹן יָדַיִם בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ, לָכֵן אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ לִנְטִילַת יָדַיִם אִם הוּא כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר,לא אֲפִלּוּ הוּא טִיט הַבּוֹרוֹת וְהַיּוֹצְרִים. אֲבָל אִם הוּא מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו – צָרִיךְ לַהֲסִירוֹ. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים לב שֶׁכָּל דָּבָר שֶׁרֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם אֵין מַקְפִּידִין עָלָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מַקְפִּיד – בָּטְלָה דַּעְתּוֹ אֵצֶל כָּל אָדָם. וְיֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם בִּנְטִילַת יָדַיִם שֶׁעִקָּרָהּ מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, אֲבָל לֹא בִּטְבִילַת כָּל הַגּוּף, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן קצ"ח).לג,13

וְאִם הַצִּפָּרְנַיִם גְּדוֹלִים וְעוֹדְפִים עַל הַבָּשָׂר – צָרִיךְ כָּל אָדָם לְנַקֵּר הַטִּיט וְהַצּוֹאָה שֶׁתַּחְתֵּיהֶם, כִּי רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם מַקְפִּידִים עַל מַה שֶּׁלֹּא כְּנֶגֶד הַבָּשָׂר, וְחוֹצֵץ אַף לְמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד,לד אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הוּא מְעַט כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁאֵין דֶּרֶךְ לְהַקְפִּיד עָלָיו.לה

(וּבְשַׁבָּת – דּוֹחֵק אֶת הַבָּשָׂר שֶׁתַּחַת הַצִּפֹּרֶן, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִגְרֹר אֶת הַצִּפֹּרֶן כְּשֶׁמֵּסִיר הַטִּיט): לו,14

4 When the lesser part of a nail is hanging, one must be careful to cut it off, because it is considered an intervening substance, as will be stated in Yoreh Deah, sec. 198.15

ד צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר בְּצִפֹּרֶן שֶׁפֵּרְשָׁה מִעוּטָהּ לָקוּץ אוֹתָהּ, שֶׁהִיא חוֹצֶצֶת,לז כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן קצ"ח: לח,15

5 Moist ink and paint are not considered intervening substances since they will be dissolved in water. If these substances are dry, they do intervene,16 unless the paint on one’s hands has actual substance. If, however, there is nothing but the tint of the paint, it is not considered an intervening substance.

When a person is a painter, paint is not considered an intervening substance on his hands, even if the paint is substantial.17 Similarly, when a person is employed as a ritual slaughterer or butcher and his hands are continuously soiled with blood, blood is not considered as an intervening substance for him.18 Similar laws apply to one who sells fat. Although generally people are particular [about removing such substances from their hands], since most people employed in these professions are not meticulous [about removing these substances], they are not considered as intervening substances for them. For another person who does not regularly perform such activities, these substances are considered as intervening, even though he personally is not particular [about removing these substances].

When the practice of women is to color their nails to enhance their appearance and the like, this coloring is not considered as an intervening substance.19

All the above applies when the intervening substances cover the lesser portion of one’s hand. If, however, the majority of one’s hand is covered with an entity of substance, it is considered as an intervening substance even for people who generally are not particular [about removing it].

ה הַדְּיוֹ וְהַצֶּבַע, לַחִים – אֵינָם חוֹצְצִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּמְחִים בַּמַּיִם, יְבֵשִׁים – חוֹצְצִים.לט,16 וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ מַמָּשׁוּת הַצֶּבַע עַל יָדָיו, אֲבָל אִם אֵין עֲלֵיהֶן אֶלָּא מַרְאִית הַצֶּבַע – אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ.מ

וּמִי שֶׁהוּא צוֹבֵעַ – אֵין הַצֶּבַע חוֹצֵץ עַל יָדָיו, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ מַמָּשׁוּת שֶׁל צִבְעוֹנִים עַל יָדָיו.מא,17 וְכֵן מִי שֶׁאֻמַּנְתּוֹ לִהְיוֹת שׁוֹחֵט אוֹ קַצָּב וְיָדָיו מְלֻכְלָכוֹת תָּמִיד בְּדָם – אֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ.מב,18 וְכֵן לְמוֹכֵר שֻׁמָּן.מג וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם מַקְפִּידִים,מד כֵּיוָן שֶׁרֹב בְּנֵי אֻמָּנִיּוֹת הַלָּלוּ אֵין מַקְפִּידִין – אֵין חוֹצְצִין לָהֶם.מה אֲבָל לְאַחֵר שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָגִיל בְּכָךְ – חוֹצְצִין, אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד.

וְהַנָּשִׁים שֶׁדַּרְכָּן לִצְבֹּעַ יְדֵיהֶם לְנוֹי וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה – אֵין אוֹתוֹ צֶבַע חוֹצֵץ.מו,19

וְכָל זֶה בְּמִעוּט הַיָּד, אֲבָל אִם רֹב הַיָּד מְכֻסֶּה בְּדָבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מַמָּשׁ – חוֹצֵץ אֲפִלּוּ לְאוֹתָם שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכָּם לְהַקְפִּיד: מז

6 When a discharge that emerges from a wound dries and forms a scab, if the person is not bothered by it and would not remove it, it is not considered as an intervening substance with regard to the ritual washing of hands. Similar rules apply to a scabthatis painful to remove, since, from that moment on, the person does not intend to remove it. As long as the current state prevails, it is considered as if his tendency is not to remove it and it is not considered an intervening substance with regard to the ritual washing.20 [In contrast,] with regard to the immersion [of one’s entire body], we are stringent regarding such scabs.21

ו רִיר הַיּוֹצֵא מִן הַמַּכָּה וּמִתְיַבֵּשׁ וְנַעֲשֶׂה גְּלִיד, אִם אֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו לַהֲסִירוֹ,מח אוֹ שֶׁמִּצְטַעֵר לַהֲסִירוֹ,מט שֶׁמֵּעַתָּה אֵין דַּעְתּוֹ לַהֲסִירָהּ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּעִנְיַן זֶה נ – קָרוּי אֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד, וְאֵינוֹ חוֹצֵץ לִנְטִילָה,20 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלִּטְבִילָה מַחְמִירִין: נא,21

7 When a ring is fitted tightly on one’s finger, it is considered an intervening substance. If it is loosely fitting, it is not considered an intervening substance,22 because water seeps between the ring and the finger. Nevertheless, as an initial practice, one should remove [any] ring before washing, even one that is loosely fitting, for we are not knowledgeable regarding the precise definition of [the term] “loosely fitting” and one might act leniently even with regard to a ring that is fitted tightly. After the fact, a washing is considered valid if one wore a ring that is loosely fitting, provided he poured a reviis over it at one time, as will be explained in sec. 162[:14].23

If, however, the ring is fitted tightly, the washing is not valid if the person is particular about removing the ring at times, e.g., the ring has a precious stone and he is careful about removing the ring before washing so that the water does not soil it. Women are careful to remove even a ring that does not have a precious stone when kneading dough. Therefore,24 [for a woman,] a ring is always considered an intervening substance, even though she is not concerned about removing it lest water soil it. Since a man, by contrast, does not usually knead dough,25 he is not required to remove a ring that does not have a stone before washing even if it is not loosely fitting, because he is never particularaboutremoving it.

ז טַבַּעַת, כְּשֶׁהִיא דְּחוּקָה בָּאֶצְבַּע – חוֹצֶצֶת, וּרְפוּיָה – אֵינָהּ חוֹצֶצֶת,נב,22 כִּי הַמַּיִם בָּאִים בֵּינָהּ לָאֶצְבַּע. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, לְכַתְּחִלָּה יֵשׁ לְהָסִיר הַטַּבַּעַת קֹדֶם נְטִילָה אֲפִלּוּ רְפוּיָה, כִּי אֵין אָנוּ בְּקִיאִים מַהוּ [נִקְרָא] רְפוּיָה וְיָבוֹאוּ לְהָקֵל גַּם בִּדְחוּקָה.נג וּבְדִיעֲבַד – עָלְתָה לוֹ נְטִילָה אִם הָיְתָה רְפוּיָה.נד וְהוּא שֶׁשָּׁפַךְ עָלֶיהָ רְבִיעִית בְּבַת אַחַת,נה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קס"ב.נו,23

אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה דְּחוּקָה – לֹא עָלְתָה לוֹ נְטִילָה אִם לִפְעָמִים מַקְפִּיד עָלֶיהָ לַהֲסִירָהּ, כְּגוֹן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ אֶבֶן טוֹבָה שֶׁמַּקְפִּיד עָלֶיהָ לַהֲסִירָהּ בִּשְׁעַת נְטִילָה שֶׁלֹּא תִּתְלַכְלֵךְ בַּמַּיִם.נז וּבְאִשָּׁה, אֲפִלּוּ טַבַּעַת שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ אֶבֶן טוֹבָה דַּרְכָּהּ לַהֲסִירָהּ בִּשְׁעַת לִישָׁה, לָכֵן24 חוֹצֶצֶת לְעוֹלָם,נח אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ מַקְפֶּדֶת לַהֲסִירָהּ מִשּׁוּם לִכְלוּךְ הַמַּיִם. אֲבָל הָאִישׁ שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לָלוּשׁ25 – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהָסִיר הַטַּבַּעַת שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ אֶבֶן טוֹבָה קֹדֶם נְטִילָה אֲפִלּוּ אֵינָהּ רְפוּיָה, לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַקְפִּיד עָלֶיהָ לַהֲסִירָהּ לְעוֹלָם: נט

8 The measure of the hands that must be washed is the entire hand until the wrist, the measure that was required for the sanctification of the hands [of the kohanim] in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash.26 Other authorities maintain that [the Sages] were lenient with regard to the washing of the hands and did not require washing beyond the joint where the fingers reach the palm of the hand.

It is preferable to follow the first opinion.27 Since it is a matter that does not involve any exertion, why not act in a manner that is acceptable to all authorities? It is, however, correct to stipulate that one is not accepting this practice as an obligation, but rather as a voluntary act. Thus if on a given occasion, he does not have sufficient water, he need not observe this stringency as is his ordinary practice. Indeed, it is proper to make a similar stipulation regarding all stringencies that a person desires to accept upon himself.28

If a person [who has accepted the stringency of washing until the wrist,] washes his hands in public in a locale where the custom is to wash only until the joint where the fingers reach the palm of the hand, he should not act stringently in their presence, lest it appear to them, Heaven forbid, that there are two sets of Jewish laws.29 If one’s hands are filthy, all authorities agree that one must wash until the wrist.30

ח שִׁעוּר נְטִילַת יָדַיִם, כָּל הַיָּד עַד הַקָּנֶה שֶׁל זְרוֹעַ,ס כְּשִׁעוּר קִדּוּשׁ יָדַיִם שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ.סא,26 וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים סב שֶׁהֵקֵלוּ בִּנְטִילַת יָדַיִם, וְלֹא הִצְרִיכוּ אֶלָּא עַד מְקוֹם חִבּוּר הָאֶצְבָּעוֹת לְכַף הַיָּד.

וְרָאוּי לִנְהֹג כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה,סג,27 שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ טֹרַח – לָמָּה לֹא נוֹצִיא נַפְשֵׁנוּ מֵהַמַּחֲלֹקֶת? וְנָכוֹן לְהַתְנוֹת וְלוֹמַר, שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְקַבֵּל דָּבָר זֶה בְּתוֹרַת חוֹבָה אֶלָּא בְּתוֹרַת רְשׁוּת, כְּדֵי שֶׁאִם אֵיזֶה פַּעַם לֹא יִזְדַּמְּנוּ לוֹ מַיִם כָּל כָּךְ – לֹא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְהַחְמִיר כְּמִנְהָגוֹ. וְכֵן רָאוּי לְהַתְנוֹת בְּכָל דָּבָר שֶׁאָדָם רוֹצֶה לְהַחְמִיר עַל עַצְמוֹ.סד,28

וְאִם נוֹטֵל יָדָיו בִּפְנֵי רַבִּים בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹהֲגִים לִטֹּל עַד מְקוֹם חִבּוּר הָאֶצְבָּעוֹת לְבַד – אֵין לוֹ לְהַחְמִיר בִּפְנֵיהֶם, שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא נִרְאֶה כְּב' תּוֹרוֹת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בְּעֵינֵיהֶם.סה,29

וְאִם הָיוּ יָדָיו מְלֻכְלָכוֹת – לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל צְרִיכִים נְטִילָה עַד הַזְּרוֹעַ: סו,30