1

Anyone who eats bread over which the blessing hamotzi is recited must wash his hands before and after partaking of it.This applies even when the bread one eats is not sacred food.

Although a person's hands are not dirty, nor is he aware that they have contracted any type of ritual impurity, he should not eat until he washes both his hands. Similarly, before [partaking of] any food dipped in liquid, one must wash one's hands.

א

כל האוכל הפת שמברכין עליו המוציא צריך נטילת ידים תחלה וסוף ואע"פ שהיא פת חולין ואף על פי שאין ידיו מלוכלכות ואינו יודע להן טומאה לא יאכל עד שיטול שתי ידיו וכן כל דבר שטיבולו במשקין צריך נטילת ידים תחילה:

Anyone who eats bread over which the blessing hamotzi is recited - The commentaries explain that the modifying clause is added to include two types of grain products mentioned in Chapter 3, Halachah 9, that resemble bread, but do not require the blessing hamotzi unless they are eaten as the basis for an entire meal. When the blessing hamotzi is recited over them, the ritual washing of the hands is also required. Otherwise, it is not (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 158:1).

must wash his hands - This washing is not intended for the purpose of cleanliness. Indeed, as explained in the commentary on Halachah 4, one's hands must be clean before washing them. Rather, it is a ritual matter and, therefore, requires adherence to all the particular laws mentioned in this chapter.

before - Shabbat 14b, 15a states that the washing of the hands before partaking of sacrificial offerings was instituted by King Solomon. Hillel and Shammai extended the practice to include terumah, and Rabbi Eleazar ben Arach widened its scope to include even unconsecrated foods (Chulin 106a).

The latter decree was also intended to remind the priests to keep their hands ritually pure while partaking of terumah. It was, however, instituted not only for the priests, but for the nation as a whole (even though non-priests may not partake of terumah), so that it would be a universally accepted practice.

Even after the destruction of the Temple, when it was no longer possible to practice ritual purity, this mitzvah was continued in the hope that the Temple will soon be rebuilt, and the priests will resume continue their previous obligations (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 158:1; Mishnah Berurah 158:1).

and after partaking of it. - This washing, referred to asmayim acharonim, is discussed in Halachot 2 and 3.

This applies even when the bread one eats is not sacred food. - terumah or sacrificial offerings.

Although a person's hands are not dirty - See the commentary, Halachah 4.

nor is he aware that they have contracted any type of ritual impurity - Note the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Tohorot 7:8), where the Rambam explains that "'hands are busy' - i.e., frequently touching [objects] - and it is possible that one touched an impure substance without realizing it." See also Chapter 7, Note 17.

he should not eat until he washes both his hands.

Similarly, before [partaking of] any food dipped - or washed (Mishnah Berurah 158:12). This requirement applies whether one dips food into liquid while eating, or whether it was dipped into liquid beforehand and left undried. If, however, it was dipped in liquid and the liquid dried, there is no need to wash before partaking of it.

in liquid - Liquid in this instance refers to wine, honey, olive oil, milk, dew, and water. It does not include fruit juices or other oils (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 158:4).

one must wash one's hands. - This practice was instituted in respect for the terumah separated from olive oil and wine. It was extended to all liquids because the laws governing the contraction of ritual impurity by liquids are more severe than those involving other foods (Rabbenu Yonah, Levush, Orach Chayim 158:3).

Tosafot, Pesachim 115b, explains that after the destruction of the Temple, the practice of washing before partaking of fruits dipped in liquid was discontinued because we are all ritually impure. Although most authorities do not accept this position, they respect it to the extent that they state that a blessing should not be made before such a washing. In practice, however, there are many who are not precise in washing in these circumstances. There is, nevertheless, one instance when this practice is observed universally. At the Pesach seder, we wash before dipping the karpas in salt water.

2

Whenever a person washes his hands - whether before eating, before the recitation of the Shema, or before prayer - he should recite the following blessing beforehand: "[Blessed are You...] who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the washing of hands."

This is a Rabbinic mitzvah that we have been commanded by the Torah to follow, as [Deuteronomy 17:11] states: "[Do not stray...] from all the laws that they direct you." A blessing should not, however, be recited before washing after eating, for this was instituted only as a protective measure. This rationale, however, obligates a person to be more careful in the observance of this practice.

ב

כל הנוטל ידיו בין לאכילה בין לקריאת שמע בין לתפלה מברך תחלה אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על נטילת ידים שזו מצות חכמים שנצטוינו מן התורה לשמוע מהן שנאמר על פי התורה אשר יורוך ומים אחרונים אין מברכין עליהן שאינם אלא מפני הסכנה ולפיכך חייב אדם להזהר בהן ביותר:

Whenever a person washes his hands - whether before eating - The Rambam requires that a blessing be recited in both the instances mentioned in the previous halachah. As mentioned in the commentary, our practice is to recite a blessing only before partaking of bread, and not before partaking of foods dipped in liquids.

before the recitation of the Shema - See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:1.

or before prayer - See Hilchot Tefillah 4:2-3.

The Radbaz (Vol. IV, Responsum 1365) states that although the Rambam requires that we wash before the afternoon and evening services, a blessing should be recited only when washing before the morning service. This opinion is reinforced by the fact that, when counting the hundred blessings recited each day (Hilchot Tefillah 7:14), the Rambam enumerates only one blessing for washing for prayer.

he should recite the following blessing beforehand - Rabbenu Manoach notes that the Rambam's phraseology implies that the blessing should be recited before washing one's hands. This is also indicated by Chapter 11, Halachah 7, which states:

There is no mitzvah for which the blessing is recited after its fulfillment except the immersion of a convert.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 158:11, based onTosafot, Berachot 51a) states that it is not customary to recite the blessing before washing, lest one's hands be dirty. At present, Ashkenazic custom (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 158:16; Mishnah Berurah 158:41) is to recite the blessing after washing, but before drying one's hands.

"[Blessed are You...] who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the washing of hands." - The word "washing" is not a precise translation of the Hebrew נטילת. Rabbenu Asher (Berachot, Chapter 9) explains that this term was used because in Talmudic times, the utensil with which it was customary to wash one's hands was called נטלא. The Sages phrased the blessing in this manner to emphasize that the mere rinsing of one's hands is insufficient and one must use such a utensil.

This - With the following sentence, the Rambam is explaining why a blessing is recited, despite the fact that this commandment was instituted by the Sages and not by God, Himself.

is a Rabbinic mitzvah that we have been commanded by the Torah to follow - In Chapter 11, Halachah 3, the Rambam interprets the blessing recited over Rabbinic commandments as follows: "who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to follow the instructions of the Sages who commanded us concerning...."

as [Deuteronomy 17:11] states: "[Do not stray...] from all the laws that they direct you." - Note the explanation of this proof-text in Hilchot Mamrim 1:1-2.

A blessing should not, however, be recited before washing after eating - Although the Ra'avad protests strongly the Rambam's ruling, it is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 181:7). (The difference between the Ra'avad and the Rambam revolves around the rationale for this washing. See Note 3 below.)

for this was instituted only as a protective measure. - as mentioned in the following halachah. (See also Chapter 11, Halachah 4.)

This rationale, however, obligates a person to be more careful in the observance of this practice - for as Chulin 10a states, "Danger is more serious than a prohibition."

1. This washing, referred to as mayim emtzayim, is mentioned in Chulin 105a,b and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, Chapter 173). At present, this practice is generally not followed.
2. There are no fruits that are eaten as terumah according to Torah law. (It is wine and oil, not grapes and olives, which carry such an obligation.) Therefore, the Sages did not impose an obligation to wash before eating from such food if it was not consecrated (Rabbenu Yonah, Berachot 8).
3. The Tur (Orach Chayim 181:1), the Ra'avad, and others offer a different rationale for this washing, quoting Berachot 53a's interpretation of Leviticus 11:44: "'Make yourselves holy,' this refers to the first washing; 'And you shall be holy,' this refers to the second washing." They explain that this washing is necessary as a token of respect to clean one's hands before reciting grace.
4. Note Hilchot Melachim 6:13, which mentions other Rabbinic prohibitions that are relaxed in wartime.

See also Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 158:8) which draws parallels to these laws and frees a person in a desert or in another dangerous situation from the obligation to wash his hands.

3

Washing hands between one course and another is a matter of choice. If one desires, one may wash; if not, one need not.

There is no obligation to wash before partaking of unconsecrated fruit, whether before eating or afterward. [On the contrary,] whoever washes his hands before partaking of fruit is considered among the haughty.

Whenever bread [is eaten] with salt, it is necessary to wash one's hands afterward, lest it contain Sodomite salt or salt that resembles Sodomite salt, and [after eating,] one [inadvertently] pass one's hands over one's eyes and blind them. This - [the possibility of acrid] salt - is the reason why we are obligated to wash after eating.

In an army camp, [the soldiers] are not obligated to wash before eating, because they are involved in the war. They are, however, obligated to wash afterwards because of the danger involved.

ג

נטילת ידים בין תבשיל לתבשיל רשות רצה נוטל רצה אינו נוטל ופירות של חולין אינן צריכין נטילת ידים בין בתחלה בין בסוף וכל הנוטל ידיו לפירות הרי זה מגסי הרוח כל פת שהמלח בו צריך נטילת ידים באחרונה שמא יש בו מלח סדומית או מלח שטבעו כמלח סדומית ויעביר ידיו על עיניו ויסמא מפני זה חייבין ליטול ידים בסוף כל סעודה מפני המלח ובמחנה פטורים מנטילת ידים בתחלה מפני שהן טרודים במלחמה וחייבין באחרונה מפני הסכנה:

4

To what point should one's hands be washed? To the wrist. How much water should be used? A [minimum of a] revi'it for each pair of hands.

Anything that is considered an intervening substance [and thus invalidates] a ritual immersion is also considered an intervening substance with regard to washing hands. All liquids that may be included in the measure of a mikveh may be included in the measure of the revi'it [necessary for the washing of hands].

ד

עד היכן היא נטילת ידים עד הפרק וכמה שיעור המים רביעית לכל שתי ידים וכל שחוצצים בטבילה חוצץ בנטילת ידים וכל העולה למדת מקוה עולה לשיעור רביעית:

To what point should one's hands be washed? To the wrist. - Although Rabbenu Asher maintains that it is only necessary to wash to the point of connection between the fingers and the hand, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 161:4) accepts the Rambam's decision. Nevertheless, when a person has only a limited supply of water, he may rely on Rabbenu Asher's opinion (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 161:8; Mishnah Berurah 161:22).

How much water should be used? A [minimum of - It is preferable to pour a generous quantity of water over one's hands (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 158:10). Rav Chisda would say: "I wash with a full handful of water and [God] grants me a full handful of goodness" (Shabbat 62b).

a] revi'it - one fourth of a larger measure known as a log. In contemporary measure, a revi'it is equivalent to 86.6 cc according to Shiurei Torah, and 150 cc according to the Chazon Ish.

A revi'it is significant in this context because immersion in a revi'it of water is enough to restore ritual purity to a utensil according to Torah law. The Rabbis, however, obligated the use of a mikveh of 40 se'ah for all ritual immersions.

for each pair of hands. - The Rambam's decision differs from that of the Ra'avad, Rashi, the Rashba, and many other authorities. The other authorities maintain that as long as the vessel from which the water is poured contains a revi'it, two people may have their hands washed from it. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 160:13) accepts the latter view.

Significantly, the Rambam mentions washing the hands only once before partaking of food. In Hilchot Mikveot 11:3, where he mentions the washing of the hands within the context of ritual purity, he mentions the need to wash hands twice: once to purify the hands, and once to wash off the water used to purify them. (See Halachah 10 and commentary.) In these halachot, he makes no mention of a second washing, seeming to imply that it is unnecessary to do so. (Rav Kapach adds that it is customary in certain Yemenite groups to wash only once before meals, and bases this practice on the Rambam's decision.)

The Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah (Orach Chayim 162:2) mention washing the hands two or three times before partaking of a meal. This is the accepted practice in almost all communities at present.

Anything that is considered an intervening substance [and thus invalidates] a ritual immersion - In Hilchot Mikveot 1:12, the Rambam provides this general rule:

Any substance that intervenes [between one's flesh and the water] and disturbs one nullifies the immersion, even if it covers only a minor portion of one's flesh.... Any substance that covers the major portion of one's flesh nullifies the immersion, even though it does not disturb one.

In Chapter 2 of those halachot, the Rambam mentions a long list of particular substances that nullify immersions, including filth, mud, and dough.

is also considered an intervening substance with regard to washing hands. - This implies that one should clean one's hands before washing them for this ritual purpose. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 161) discusses the particular laws regarding intervening substances.

All liquids that may be included in the measure of a mikveh - This includes substances like ice and snow, which can be used to make up the measure of a mikveh (Hilchot Mikveot 7:3).

may be included in the measure of the revi'it [necessary for washing hands]. - Note the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah (Orach Chayim 160:12), which discuss the use of wine, beer, and fruit juices for washing hands.

5. I.e., whether before a meal or in preparation for prayer.
6. The Kessef Mishneh explains that this expression indicates that it is not necessary to wash one's hands a second time (see the commentary on the previous halachah) or to dry them before partaking of the food. When washing one's hands for food, this is required because the water used for the first washing that remains on the hands becomes ritually impure. In contrast, the water that remains on one's hands after immersion in a mikveh is pure. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 159:19.)
7. A mikveh must have at least 40 se'ah of water that has flowed into it by natural means. In contemporary measurements, 331 liters according to Shiurei Torah, and 648 liters according to the Chazon Ish.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that this applies only to water that does not emanate from a natural spring. When a person immerses his hands in such a spring, all that is necessary is that there be sufficient water to cover his hands. (See also Hilchot Mikveot 9:8.)

Significantly, Rabbenu Yonah maintains that it is acceptable to immerse one's hands in a mikveh containing even less than 40 se'ah. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 159:14) accepts this view, although the Ramah favors the Rambam's position.

8. The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, and maintains that one may immerse one's hands in water poured into a pool in the ground. He supports his position by referring to the immersion of a ba'al keri (see Hilchot Tefillah 4:4-5), which is acceptable even in such pool. (See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mikveot 8:1.) Nevertheless, most authorities accept the Rambam's decision. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 159:23; Be'ur Halachah 159.)
9. See Halachot 7-9.
10. See Halachot 4 and 10.
11. See Halachot 11-12. The Rashba quotes the Halachot Gedolot as explaining that it is necessary to wash with a vessel, because the washing of hands is derived from the sanctification of the priest's hands in the Temple.
12. See Halachot 13-14.
13. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 160) states that this concept is derived from the laws of the ki'or (the basin in the Temple from which the priests washed their hands). If its water changed color, it could no longer be used.
14. E.g., ink or another coloring fell into it.
15. It became rusty from a metal container. Note, however, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 160:1 and the Mishnah Berurah 160:22, which state that water that has become murky from mud or dirt is acceptable, because even this is often the color of natural stream water.

If after water was disqualified because of an abnormal color, its color reverts to the norm, it can be used to wash one's hands (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 160:1; Mishnah Berurah 160:5).

16. See Hilchot Rotzeach USh'mirat HaNefesh 11:6-16, which discusseshe prohibition of water left uncovered. This prohibition was enacted out of fear of the possibility that a poisonous snake or the like released venom into the water.
17. Avodah Zarah 30b states that washing with such water could be dangerous lest the venom seep into cuts or sores or even through the body's pores. The Tur (Orach Chayim 160) notes that since the presence of poisonous snakes and the like is no longer widespread, the prohibition against drinking - and hence, washing with - such water need not be observed at present. This ruling is accepted by the later authorities.
18. The Rambam is implying that the water in a mikveh or in a natural stream remains acceptable for washing although it was used for other tasks (Kessef Mishneh).
19. If, however, the bread fell into the water accidentally, the water is not disqualified (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 160:2; Mishnah Berurah 160:8).
20. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 160:2) states that even if the baker washed his hands in the water, the water does not become unacceptable. The Turei Zahav (160:3) refutes this ruling. His opinion is accepted by the later authorities.
21. Slightly murky water is acceptable, as mentioned above. The determining factor is whether or not a dog will drink from the water.
22. Since a mikveh containing such water is acceptable for the immersion of one's entire body, it is surely acceptable for the immersion of hands, which is only a Rabbinic commandment.
23. These hot springs have a high mineral content and are very bitter.
24. The Kessef Mishneh interprets this as referring to a stream that was diverted into a trench that does not contain forty se'ah. Although logically, this would be acceptable for the immersion of hands, the Sages forbade using such water, lest one also immerse one's hands in a container of water. Significantly, in his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 160:7), Rav Yosef Karo adds a further point, that the water was cut off from its source.
25. I.e., the washing before partaking of bread.
26. I.e., the washing after the meal (see Halachah 17); alternatively, the second pouring of water over one's hands, as mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 4. Note the explanation of the Kessef Mishneh.
27. In both instances, one must pour at least a revi'it of water over one's hands in a single pouring. In the first instance, while the water is being poured one gradually moves one's hands under the water, while in the second instance, one pours hurriedly, but forcefully, over the entire hand at once.
28. I.e., several people stand with their hands outstretched, and a person passes in front of them pouring water over their hands.
29. Although the water first passes over the hands of one person, it is still acceptable for the person whose hands are held below, because as long as it contains the required quantity and comes in one continuous stream, it does not become impure.

Nevertheless, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 160:16 and the Mishnah Berurah 160:68,72 state that the two people must originally have the intention to wash their hands as one, and must hold their hands close together. Otherwise, it is considered as if the second person washed with the water that was rendered impure by the first person's washing.

30. Note the difference of opinion on this issue between the Rambam and the other Halachic authorities mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 4.

5

Whoever had to wash his hands and [instead] immersed them in the water of a mikveh need not do anything else. If he immersed them in a body of water that does not have the required measure of a mikveh, or in water that has been poured onto the ground, he has not accomplished anything. Water that is poured [by man] can purify hands only when it is poured over them.

ה

כל הצריך נטילת ידים והטביל ידיו במי מקוה אינו צריך דבר אחר ואם הטבילן במים שאין בהם שיעור מקוה או במים שאובין שבקרקע לא עשה כלום שאין המים שאובין מטהרין את הידים אלא בנטילה:

6

Everyone who washes his hands must show concern for four matters:
the water itself - that it not be unacceptable for washing hands,
its measure - that there be a revi'it for each pair of hands,
the container - that one wash from a container,
the individual pouring - that the water come from the power of a person who pours it.

ו

כל הנוטל ידיו צריך להזהר בארבעה דברים:

במים עצמן שלא יהיו פסולין לנטילת ידים ובשיעור שיהיה בהן רביעית לכל שתי ידים ובכלי שיהיו המים שנוטלין בהן בכלי ובנוטל שיהיו המים באין מכח נותן:

7

There are four matters that render water unacceptable: a change in its color, its being left open, its having been used for work, and its becoming spoiled to the point that an animal would not drink from it.

What is implied? Water whose color changes becomes unacceptable whether it is contained [in a pool] in the ground or in a container, or whether it changed because of something that fell into it or because of the place where it is contained.

Similarly, if the water was left uncovered in a manner that causes it to become forbidden to be drunken, it is unacceptable for washing hands.

ז

ארבעה דברים פוסלין את המים שינוי מראה וגלוי ועשיית מלאכה בהן והפסד שמונע את הבהמה מלשתות מהן כיצד מים שנשתנו מראיתן בין בכלים בין בקרקעות בין מחמת דבר שנפל לתוכן בין מחמת מקומן הרי אלו פסולין וכן אם נתגלו גלוי האוסר אותן משתייה נפסלו לנטילת ידים:

8

Any water that was used for a task is considered as sewage water and is unfit to use for washing hands. What is implied? Water that has been drawn from its source, which was used to wash utensils, to dip one's bread in, or the like, whether [it was stored] in a container or [in a pool] in the ground, becomes unacceptable for washing hands.

If one uses the water to wash clean utensils or new ones, it does not becomes unacceptable. Water in which a baker dips crackers is unacceptable. In contrast, water from which [he removes some] to baste the dough when kneading it is acceptable. It is the water that he removes that was used for a task; the water from which he removed it remains acceptable [as before].

ח

כל מים שנעשה בהן מלאכה נעשו שופכין ופסולין לנטילת ידים כיצד מים שאובין שהדיח בהן כלים או ששרה בהם פתו וכיוצא בזה בין בכלים בין בקרקעות פסולין לנטילת ידים הדיח בהן כלים מודחין או חדשים לא פסלן מים שהנחתום מטבל בהן את הכעכים פסולין ושהוא חופן מהן בשעת לישה כשרים שהמים שבחפניו הן שנעשו בהן מלאכה אבל המים שחפן מהם הרי הן בכשרותן:

9

All water that becomes unfit for a dog to drink - e.g., bitter [water], salty [water], very murky [water], foul-smelling [water] - which is contained in a vessel may not be used for washing hands. If [such water] is [contained in a pool] in the ground, one may immerse one's hands in it.

[The following rules apply to] the hot springs of Tiberias. In their [natural] place, one may immerse one's hands in them. If, however, one removed them with a container or diverted a stream of them into another place, they may not be used for either the first or the final washing of the hands, because they are not fit for an animal to drink.

ט

וכל מים שנפסלו משתיית כלב כגון שהיו מרים או מלוחים או עכורין או ריח רע עד שלא ישתה מהן הכלב בכלים פסולין לנטילת ידים ובקרקעות כשרים להטביל חמי טבריא במקומן מטבילין בהם את הידים אבל אם נטל מהן בכלי או שהפליג מהן אמה למקום אחר אין נוטלין מהן לא ראשונים ולא אחרונים מפני שאינן ראויין לשתיית בהמה:

10

One may pour water over one's hands a little at a time until one has poured out the entire amount. If, however, one poured out the entire revi'it at one time, it is acceptable.

Four or five people may wash with a single pouring while they are standing next to each other or with their hands above each other's, provided:

a) they leave space between their hands for the water to enter, and
b) there is enough water in that pouring to provide each one with a revi'it.

י

יש לנוטל ליתן על ידיו מעט מעט עד שיתן כשיעור ואם נתן הרביעית כולה בשטיפה אחת כשר נוטלין ארבעה או חמשה זה בצד זה או יד זה על גבי זה בשטיפה אחת ובלבד שירפו ידיהן כדי שיבא ביניהן המים ויהיה באותה השטיפה כדי רביעית לכל אחד ואחד:


11

One may not use the following to wash one's hands: the sides of vessels, the base of a samovar, pieces of earthenware, or the covering of a jug. Should one modify such a covering to use for washing, it is acceptable. Similarly, a wine-pouch that was modified may be used for the washing of hands.

In contrast, a sack or a basket - [although] they have been modified - may not be used to wash hands. One may not hold water in one's hands and pour it over a colleague's [hands], because one's hands are not a vessel.

Vessels that have been broken to the extent that the laws of ritual impurity no longer apply to them may not be used to wash hands, because they are considered to be broken vessels.

יא

אין נוטלין מים לידים לא בדפנות הכלים ולא בשולי המחץ ולא בחרסים ולא במגופת החבית ואם תיקן המגופה לנטילה נוטלין ממנה לידים וכן החמת שתיקנה נוטלין ממנה לידים אבל שק וקופה שנתקנו אין נוטלין מהן לידים ולא יתן לחבירו בחפניו שאין חפניו כלי וכלים שנשברו שבירה המטהרת אותן מידי טומאה אין נותנין בהם לידים מפני שהן שברי כלים:


This halachah revolves around the third rule mentioned in Halachah 6, that one must wash one's hands from a vessel.

One may not use the following to wash one's hands - because they are not vessels and were not made with the intent of containing water (Kessef Mishneh):

the sides of vessels - Broken shards of an earthenware container that are still capable of holding water. The Tur (Orach Chayim 159) states that if a broken vessel can still hold a revi'it when it stands unsupported, it is not disqualified for use. The later authorities (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 159:6; Mishnah Berurah 159:12) favor the Rambam's ruling.

the base of a samovar - Our translation is based on Rav Kapach's interpretation of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Yadayim 1:2 which is the source for this halachah).

pieces of earthenware - Although some commentaries state that this also refers to shards, others, to avoid redundancy, state that it is referring to unshaped pieces of earthenware.

or the covering of a jug. - These usually contain a handle on their top, and thus cannot stand erect when turned upside down.

Should one modify such a covering - by breaking the handle so that it could stand erect

to use for washing, it is acceptable. - Although the covering was not originally made to contain liquid, since it was modified with that intention and, in its present state, it can contain a revi'it without being supported, it is acceptable.

Similarly, a wine-pouch that was modified - by having a stand erected for it (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol)

may be used for the washing of hands. - The Bayit Chadash (Orach Chayim 159) questions why any modification is necessary for a wine-pouch, since it is also originally made with the intention of containing liquids. It explains that generally, if left uncovered, without a stand, a pouch will not be able to contain water. Hence, unless a stand is made for it, it is unacceptable.

In contrast, a sack or a basket - [although] they have been modified - and the holes in them filled with tar to prevent water from flowing out

may not be used to wash hands. - The Bayit Chadash (loc. cit.) explains the difference between these and the former two instances:

The purpose for which a covering of a jug and a wine pouch are made is related to the containing of liquids. Accordingly, although without modification they cannot serve that purpose in a manner acceptable for use in washing hands, once they are modified they are acceptable. In contrast, a sack or a basket is never used to contain liquids. Therefore, even after modification, it is unacceptable.

One may not hold water in one's hands and pour it over a colleague's [hands], because one's hands are not a vessel. - See Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 159:6).

Vessels that have been broken to the extent that the laws of ritual impurity no longer apply to them - Hilchot Keilim, Chapters 6, 11, and 19, relates the following general principle: Once a vessel is broken to the point that it can no longer serve its original purpose, it is no longer considered a vessel and can no longer contract ritual impurity.

Chulin 107a mentions that a vessel that is used for containing liquids becomes disqualified when it contains a hole large enough to allow liquids to enter when the vessel is placed within them.

may not be used to wash hands, because they are considered to be broken vessels. - In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo states that the Rambam would consider a vessel acceptable if the hole is on the side and the portion of the vessel below the hole contains more than a revi'it of liquid.

In contrast, in his Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 159), he explains that the Rambam would disqualify such a utensil because even though it can still contain a sufficient amount of liquid, it is a broken vessel and, as such, unsuitable for use for this mitzvah. In his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 159:1), he rules that a hole on the side disqualifies a vessel unless one is able to pour water through the hole.

12

All vessels, even those made from cow dung or earth, may be used to wash hands, provided they are whole.

A vessel that cannot contain a revi'it or a vessel that does not contain a revi'it may not be used for the washing of hands.

יב

בכל הכלים נוטלים לידים ואפילו כלי גללים וכלי אדמה והוא שיהיו שלמים כלי שאינו מחזיק רביעית או אין בו רביעית אין נותנין ממנה לידים:



All vessels, even those made from cow dung or earth - e.g., utensils made from mud without being fired in a kiln

may be used to wash hands - Although utensils made from these substances are not categorized as "vessels" with regard to the laws of ritual impurity, they are acceptable for this purpose.

provided they are whole. - as mentioned in the previous halachah.

A vessel that cannot contain a revi'it - i.e., is too small to contain this amount of water

or a vessel that - is of sufficient size to contain this amount, but at the present time

does not contain a revi'it may not be used for the washing of hands. - This refers to pouring the first amount of water over one's hands. According to our custom of pouring water twice (or three times) over our hands, the second pouring need not contain a revi'it. (See Hilchot Mikveot 11:8.)

13

All people are acceptable to pour water over one's hands, even a deaf-mute, a mentally incapable person, or a minor. If no one else is present, one should hold the vessel between one's knees, and thus pour it out over one's hands; lean a jug over so that the water will fall out over one's hands; or pour the water over each of one's hands individually.

It is acceptable if a monkey pours water over one's hands.

יג

הכל כשרין ליתן לידים אפילו חרש שוטה וקטן אם אין שם אחר מניח הכלי בין ברכיו וצק על ידיו או יטה החבית על ידיו ויטול או נוטל ידו אחת וצק בזו על זו וחוזר וצק בראשונה על השנייה והקוף נוטל לידים:

14

When a person pours water into a trough by hand or by using a pulley, and afterwards the water flows out from it through an irrigation channel that brings the water to vegetables or to animals, it is not acceptable for one to place one's hands in the trough and have the water pass over them, because the water is not coming from "the power of a giver." If one's hands were close to the place where the bucket is poured out so that the water passes over one's hands because of the power of a human being, the washing is acceptable.

יד

השוקת שדולה אדם בידו או בגלגל ונותן לתוכה והמים נמשכין ממנה באמה והולכין ומשקין הירקות או הבהמה והניח ידיו בשוקת ועברו המים ושטפו על ידיו לא עלתה לו נטילה שהרי אין כאן נותן על ידיו ואם היו ידיו קרובות לשפיכת הדלי עד שנמצאו המים שטפו על ידיו מכח נתינת האדם עלתה לו נטילה:

15

When there is a doubt with regard to the water [used to wash one's hands] - e.g., whether it had been used for other tasks or not, whether it contained the required quantity or not, whether it [the water itself] is ritually pure or not, and, similarly, when a person has a doubt whether he washed his hands or not, [in all these instances,] his hands are considered to be pure. In all instances where doubt arises concerning the ritual purity of hands, the hands are considered to be pure.

טו

מים שנסתפק לו אם נעשה מהן מלאכה או לא נעשה אם יש בהן כשיעור או שאין בהן אם הן טהורין או טמאין ספק נטל ידיו ספק לא נטל ידיו ספיקו טהור שכל ספק שבטהרת ידים טהור:

16

When washing before eating, a person should raise his hands upward so that that water will not flow past the wrist, and then return and make the hands impure. In contrast, when washing after eating, a person should hold his hands downward so that all the power of the salt should be rinsed away off one's hands.

Before eating, one may wash into a container or onto the ground. After eating, one should wash only into a container. Before eating, one may wash with hot water or with cold water. After eating, one should not wash with hot water - i.e., water that will scald one's hands. It will not [serve the purpose of] removing filth, because one cannot rub one's hands together with it. If the water is merely warm, it may be used for washing after eating.

טז

מים הראשונים צריך שיגביה ידיו למעלה עד שלא יצאו מים חוץ לפרק ויחזרו ויטמאו את הידים ואחרונים צריך שישפיל ידיו למטה כדי שיצא כל כח המלח מעל ידיו מים ראשונים ניטלים בין על גבי כלי בין על גבי קרקע ואחרונים אינן ניטלין אלא על גבי כלי מים ראשונים ניטלין בין בחמי האור בין בצונן ואחרונים אינן ניטלין בחמין והוא שיהיו חמים שהיד סולדת בהן מפני שאין מעבירין את הזוהמא שאינו יכול לשפשף בהן אבל היו פושרין נוטלין מהן באחרונה:

17

A person may wash his hands in the morning and stipulate that [the washing will be effective] for the entire day. Thus, he will not have to wash before each time he eats. [This rule applies] only when he does not divert his attention from his hands. If, however, he diverts his attention from them, he must wash them whenever it is required.

יז

נוטל אדם ידיו שחרית ומתנה עליהן כל היום ואינו צריך ליטול את ידיו לכל אכילה ואכילה והוא שלא יסיח דעתו מהן אבל אם הסיח דעתו מהן צריך ליטול ידיו בכל עת שצריך נטילה:

18

A person may wrap his hands in a cloth and eat bread or food dipped in liquid although he did not wash his hands.

A person who feeds others need not wash his hands. The person who eats, however, must wash his hands, although another person puts food into his mouth and he does not touch the food at all. Similarly, a person who eats with a fork must wash his hands.

יח

לט אדם את ידיו במפה ואוכל בהן פת או דבר שטיבולו במשקה אע"פ שלא נטל ידיו המאכיל לאחרים אינו צריך נטילת ידים והאוכל צריך נטילת ידים אף על פי שאחר נותן לתוך פיו ואינו נוגע במאכל והוא הדין לאוכל במגריפה שצריך נטילת ידים:

19

It is forbidden to feed someone who did not wash his hands even if one puts the food directly into his mouth.

It is forbidden to treat the washing of hands with disdain. Our Sages have authored many commands and warnings about this manner. Even when one has a minimum amount of water to drink, one should wash one's hands with a portion, eat, and drink the remainder.

יט

אסור להאכיל מי שלא נטל ידיו ואף על פי שהוא נותן לתוך פיו ואסור לזלזל בנטילת ידים וצוויים הרבה צוו חכמים והזהירו על הדבר אפילו אין לו מים אלא כדי שתייה נוטל ידיו במקצתן ואחר כך אוכל ושותה מקצתן:

20

[After washing,] a person must dry his hands before eating. Anyone who eats without drying his hands is considered to have eaten impure bread.

Similarly, whenever a person washes his hands after eating, he should dry them and then recite grace. One should recite grace directly after washing one's hands. No interruptions should be made. It is even forbidden to drink water after washing one's hands after eating until one recites grace.

כ

צריך אדם לנגב את ידיו ואח"כ יאכל וכל האוכל בלא ניגוב ידים כאוכל לחם טמא וכל הנוטל ידיו באחרונה מנגב ואח"כ מברך ותכף לנטילת ידים ברכת המזון לא יפסיק ביניהם בדבר אחר אפילו לשתות מים אחר שנוטל ידיו באחרונה אסור עד שיברך ברכת המזון: