Halacha for Tuesday 12 Tammuz 5781 June 22 2021

Food Items Touched by One Who Did Not Wash One’s Hands in the Morning

In the past, we have explained the obligation for one to wash one’s hands from a vessel every morning upon awakening from his sleep.

We have also explained that when one awakens from one’s sleep in the morning, an evil spirit rests on one’s hands, for sleep is considered one-sixtieth of death; only through washing one’s hands according to Halacha is this evil spirit removed. It is therefore prohibited to touch food items or beverages before washing one’s hands in the morning, for by doing so, the evil spirit rests on the food items one touches.

We shall now discuss a situation that arises many times in which bakery owners who bake bread are not necessarily G-d-fearing people and they have probably not washed their hands in the morning. Since they touch and are involved with the kneading of the dough or setting up the loaves of bread on display, it would seem that the evil spirit rests on these items and one should avoid buying them.

Indeed, Maran Ha’Chida and Hagaon Rabbeinu Eliyahu of Vilna write that a food item touched by one who did not wash his hands in the morning may not be eaten, for the evil spirit rests on it and there is concern for danger regarding this matter.  Sources for their words can be found in the words of the earlier Poskim.

Nevertheless, there are those that say that one need not be concerned about this if the food items were already touched; only preferably should food items not be touched to begin with before washing one’s hands. This is especially true according to what we have already established that nowadays, the evil spirit is not as common as it was in the earlier generations. Based on this, there is room for leniency regarding this matter.

Another reason for leniency is because most people do indeed wash their hands in the morning, albeit not according to Halacha; nevertheless, the power of the evil spirit is weakened due to the hand-washing.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Yabia Omer, Volume One) has brought a proof to this idea that the evil spirit is weakened by even a regular hand-washing, for the Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah tells us that people would customarily crush grapes for wine-making in the wine-press using their feet. The Mekubalim write that the same evil spirit that rests on one’s hands rests on one’s feet as well and the reason we customarily do not wash our feet in the morning in order to remove this evil spirit is because the strength of the attachment of the evil spirit on the feet is very great and washing them would not help at all. In any case, people would customarily not be concerned about this evil spirit and they would crush grapes with their bare feet. Certainly, the reason for this must be because people would wash their feet for cleanliness purposes before crushing the grapes and at that point, there would be no more concern about the evil spirit being transferred to the food items coming into contact with one’s feet as the power of the evil spirit is weakened even through a regular washing.

Thus, regarding loaves of bread and the like that were touched by someone who most probably did not wash his hands in the morning, one may act leniently and use such items that have already been touched. However, if food items were touched by someone who did not wash his hands but they are able to be washed with water, such as fruits, vegetables, and the like, it is preferable to wash them under running water from the faucet three times and by doing so, one removes any concerns of the evil spirit from them.

Summary: Food items that were touched by someone who most probably did not wash his hands in the morning (i.e. Netilat Yadayim) are permitted to be eaten. If it is possible to wash them, it is proper to wash them three times under running water.

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles There is a Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles throughout all eight nights of Chanukah (beginning from next Sunday night). The Sephardic custom is to light one set of Chanukah candles per house. The Ashkenazi custom, however, is that every member of the househ......

Read Halacha

A Guest On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah

Question: If one is staying as a guest at one’s parents’ or in-laws’ home for Shabbat Chanukah, where should one light Chanukah candles on Motza’ei Shabbat? Answer: Regarding a married individual who is staying as a guest at his father’s home, according to the Sephar......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Boarders, Guests, Soldiers, and Yeshiva Students Regarding Chanukah Candles

Question: If one will be away from home as a guest during Chanukah, how should one act regarding lighting Chanukah candles? Similarly, what is the law regarding a soldier who will be at his military base during Chanukah? Answer: If one is away from home during the holiday of Chanukah and stays a......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Married Children Staying with Their Parents and One Staying in a Hotel

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although one who has no one lighting on his behalf at home (for instance, because he has no family or because his family is with him) and is staying as a guest in a friend’s home on Chanukah should have been obligated to light candles in one&rsqu......

Read Halacha

Washing One’s Hands After Taking a Haircut

Question: Is one obligated to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) after taking a haircut? Answer: Our Sages list various situations where one must wash one’s hands. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) states: “The following activities require one to wash one’s hands: ......

Read Halacha

“Al Ha’Nissim”

Starting from the Arvit prayer on the first night of Chanukah (this year, 5782, starting from tonight, Sunday night) “Al Ha’Nissim” is added in the Amida in the middle of the Blessing of Thanksgiving (“Modim Anachnu Lach etc.) as it is printed in all Siddurim. Even if mos......

Read Halacha

The Meaning of Chanukah as it Applies to Us

We have already discussed the essence of the miracle of Chanukah which was that when the wicked Greeks threatened the Jewish nation, the sons of the Hashmonai family rose up against them and were victorious. They then chose a king for the Jewish nation from their priestly family (of Kohanim). Fro......

Read Halacha