Halacha for Sunday 9 Cheshvan 5778 October 29 2017

One who Touches One’s Shoes, Feet, New Shoes, Socks, or Shoelaces

In a Halacha from last week, we have quoted the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch who rules that if one touches one’s shoes, one must wash one’s hands.

The Reason for Netilat Yadayim After Touching One’s Shoes or Feet
Some say that the root of the obligation to wash one’s hands in this situation is due to cleanliness, i.e. since one’s feet and shoes are generally unclean, one must therefore wash one’s hands after touching them. Others say that the reason is because of the evil spirit which rests on one’s feet and shoes (as the verse states, “Cursed is the ground because of you”; thus, an evil spirit rests on the ground and on one’s shoes that come in contact with it).

The Proper Way to Wash One’s Hands
According to the first reason for this Netilat Yadayim which was due to concerns of cleanliness, it is certainly sufficient to do so once, and there is no need to wash one’s hands three times, one hand after another.

Halachically speaking though, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that although according to the letter of the law it is sufficient to rinse one’s hands once under the faucet, nevertheless, it is preferable to wash one’s hands three times, one hand after another, albeit not necessarily from a vessel, as we have explained in the previous Halacha; rather, it is sufficient to rinse one’s hands under the faucet three times, one after another (i.e. placing one’s right hand under the stream of water coming from the faucet, the one’s left hand, and repeating this process three times).

Touching New Shoes
Hagaon Rabbeinu Yaakov Emdin (Ya’abetz) writes in his Sefer Mor Uktzia (end of Chapter 4) that if one touches new shoes which one has not worn yet, the evil spirit does not rest on such shoes since they have not yet been worn. Since they are clean, one who touches them need not wash his hands.

Touching Clean Socks
The same law applies regarding touching clean socks in that since the evil spirit does not rest on socks since socks are not intended to come into contact with the ground and additionally, the reason of cleanliness does not apply here either since they are clean now; thus, Maran zt”l (in his Responsa Yabia Omer Volume 5, Chapter 1 and as quoted in the Sefer Yalkut Yosef Volume 1, page 17) rules that one need not wash one’s hands at all.

Touching One’s Shoelaces
Similarly, if one ties one’s shoelaces and is careful not to touch the actual shoe, Maran zt”l writes (Yabia Omer and Yalkut Yosef ibid.) that one need not wash one’s hands afterwards since the evil spirit does not rest on shoelaces, as they are not the actual shoe, in addition to the fact that they are usually clean of filth.

Summary: After touching one’s shoes or feet, one must wash one’s hands. It is preferable to wash one’s hands three times, one hand after another; however, this need not be done specifically using a vessel. Rather, one should just place one’s right hand under the stream of water coming out of the faucet and then the left. This process is then repeated three times.

One who touches new shoes that were never worn need not wash one’s hands. Similarly, one who touches clean socks need not wash one’s hands.

If one touches only one’s shoelaces without touching the actual shoe, one need not wash his hands.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5778, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av This Year (5778)

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal. Nevertheless, this year, 5778, since the fast of Tisha Be&r......

Read Halacha


The Laws of the Beginning of the Fast when Tisha Be’av Falls Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha

Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. May Hashem soon switch it to a month of joy and celebration. This year, 5778, there are some unique laws we must discuss since the Ninth of Av falls out on Shabbat and the fast is thus postponed until Sunday. The Jewish Nation’s Fortune During ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. The Sephardic Custom Nevertheless, the Sephardic ......

Read Halacha