1. The laws of Nítilas Yadayim ( Washing of the hands ) 23 Paragraphs


Note: Rama is in brackets []


  1. One should wash his hands in the morning and make the blessing אל נטילת ידים[1]. [ And some say one should also recite אשר יצר even if one didnít use the facilities and such is our custom. ] Water that is invalid (פסול) to wash Nítilas Yadayim for a meal is valid for Nítilas Yadayim for prayer. However, there are those say one should not make a blessing on this.


  1. One should be careful to pour water on his hands three separate times on each hand in order to remove the bad spirit which remains on them.


  1. One should not touch his mouth, nose, ears or eyes with his hands before Nítilas Yídayim.


  1. Even if one already washed his hands, he should not continually touch the anus because it causes piles. Also, one should not touch the place of bloodletting because it damages the wound.


  1. One should not touch a vat of beer (before Nítilas Yadayim)), because handling it impairs the beer.


  1. One is not required to use a רביות[2] for Nítilas Yadayim of the morning.


  1. It is a good idea to be stringent with Nítilas Yadayim for the morning to follow all of the stringencies that apply to Nítilas Yadayim for a meal. [However, the it is not disqualified if one does not use a vessel or if one does not use man power and other things that would disqualify Nítilas Yadayim for a meal[3].]


  1. One should not put the used water of the morning Nítilas Yadayim on the ground, but place it in a vessel.[4]


  1. It is forbidden to benefit from the water of the morning Nítilas Yadayim. One should not pour out the water in his home or in a place where people frequent.


  1. One should take the vessel of water in his right hand and transfer it to his left hand in order that he should pour water on his right hand first.


  1. One should not touch someone who has not washed Nítilas Yadayim in the morning.


  1. If one dipped his hands into a vessel of water, he can pray and say the morning Sheíma. However, this is not sufficient to remove the bad spirit on ones hands. If one dips his hand in three vessels of water (or one vessel and with three changes of water) it is uncertain if this is sufficient to remove the bad spirit.


  1. If one was awake all night, it is uncertain whether he needs to do Nítilas Yadayim to pray and to remove the bad spirit from his hands. [He should wash them without the blessing.]


  1. If one gets up before the morning light ( עמוד השׁחר ) and he does Nítilas Yadayim, it is questionable if he needs to wash another time when daybreak arrives. [ He should wash them without the blessing. ]


  1. If one sleeps during the day, it is questionable if he needs to pour water three times on each hand. [ He should wash them without the blessing. ]


  1. David (the King) was careful to not sleep sixty breaths in order to not feel the taste of death. [And the Gemara states in the chapter ofהישׁן that David was only careful to do this during the day.


  1. There are those who have the custom to wash their mouth in the morning, because of mucous in the mouth.


  1. The instances when one must do Nítilas Yadayim are the following: One who gets up from his bed, one who goes out of the bathroom and from the bathhouse, one who cuts his nails, one who removes his shoes, touches his feet, one who scratches his head. There are those who add one who walks between the dead, touches a dead body, examines his garments for lice, has sex, touched a louse, and touched his body with his hand. If one did one of these things and did not wash his hands, if he is a torah scholar, his learning will be forgotten. And if he is not a torah scholar, he goes crazy.


  1. One who does bloodletting from his shoulders and did not wash Nítilas Yadayim, he should be afraid for seven days. One who shaves and did not wash, he should be afraid for 3 days. One who cut his nails and did not wash, should be afraid for one day. And he does not know from what to be afraid of.


  1. One who washed his face and did not was it thoroughly; his face can become split or infested by boils. And the cure is to wash it with a lot of סילקא water.[5]


  1. One should be careful while praying or when eating to not touch his leg or thigh or in any place that people cover since there are particles of sweat. Also, one should not rub his head unless it is in a place that is normally revealed like his face. There is no reason to be careful with ones arms.


  1. If one has no water, he should rub his hands with a rock, dirt or with anything that can clean. He should say the blessing with the substitution ידים נקיות על and then get up for prayer. However, this does not remove the bad spirit on them.


  1. The rabbis only instituted Nítilas Yadayim for Kria Shima and for prayer. But for the shacharis blessings, one can say them before doing Nítilas Yadayim. This is unless one is lying on his bed naked. Then, it is forbidden him to mention G-dís name until he cleans his hands.





Translated by Jay Dinovitser. Although I have an extensive Yeshiva background, I am neither a Rabbi nor the son of a Rabbi. If any question should arise with the accuracy of this translation, consult a rabbinical authority. Please notify me of any errors that might have been made in this free translation.


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[1] The Mishna Brura writes that there are two reasons why the Rabbis instituted the rabbinical commandment of Nítilas Yadayim. The first reason is because when one is sleeping his hands will most likely wander and touch unclean places. The second opinion is that after sleep one is considered like a new creation. Therefore we are required to thank Hashem for creating us for his glory. The shulchan arach later writes that when one awakes after sleeping, a bad spirit resides on his hands. The procedure of Nítilas Yadayim removes this bad spirit (which can be harmful). There are 2 Nítilas Yadayims. One is in the morning, and one is before eating bread. See the next footnote

[2] This is measurement equivalent to approximately 4 ounces. The exact measurement is a matter of debate.

[3] The Rabbis also instituted Nítilas Yadayim before eating bread. One is required to first pour the water in a vessel and then to pour the water out of the vessel to wash ones hands. For this procedure, only 2 separate washings on each hand is required. This procedure has more stringent requirements then Nítilas Yadayim one says after awaking before prayer.

[4] The bad spirit remains on this water (Mishna Brura) Most probably, if someone walks over it, this could be harmful.

[5] I donít know what this means. It is not in any of my Hebrew English dictionaries.