Halacha for Thursday 27 Tishrei 5781 October 15 2020

Speaking Between Washing One’s Hands and the “Hamotzi” Blessing

Question: Is one permitted to speak between washing one’s hands and reciting the Hamotzi blessing?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (42a) states: “Immediately following hand-washing, one must recite the blessing.” The Rishonim disagree as to the explanation of this Gemara: The Rambam explains that the words of the Gemara refer to Mayim Acharonim (“Final Waters”) which follow the meal and this means that one may not interrupt between Mayim Acharonim and Birkat Hamazon. However, between Netilat Yadayim and the Hamotzi blessing, one may speak according to the Rambam’s opinion.

Some explain that the Gemara refers to Netilat Yadayim prior to the meal and thus, the Hamotzi blessing must immediately follow the hand-washing without any interruption of speech in between them. The Tur (authored by Rabbeinu Yaakov son of Rabbeinu Asher) writes that his father, the Rosh, was accustomed not to speak even between the initial hand-washing and the Hamotzi blessing.

The Talmud Yerushalmi states: “If one does not interrupt between washing his hands and blessing, the Satan does not prosecute regarding that meal.” The simple meaning of the Yerushalmi seems to be referring to interrupting between the hand-washing before the meal and the Hamotzi blessing, for it says there that “the Satan does not prosecute regarding that meal,” which seems to imply that it is referring to the meal one is about to begin, i.e. that this refers to interrupting between the hand-washing before the meal and the Hamotzi blessing. Nevertheless, the phrase, “The Satan does not prosecute regarding that meal,” can also be understood as referring to the previous meal, meaning that one will not be harmed by the foods one has already eaten. There are sources for this explanation in several places throughout the Talmud Yerushalmi.

After quoting the words of the Poskim and the Talmud Yerushalmi regarding this topic, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 166) concludes, “It is therefore preferable to be careful with regards to the hand-washing prior to the meal as well.” His words, “It is therefore preferable to be careful,” seem to imply that according to the letter of the law, the Halacha follows the view of the Rambam that one may speak between Netilat Yadayim and the Hamotzi blessing. Nevertheless, it is preferable not to speak at all between Netilat Yadayim and the Hamotzi blessing. This is indeed the ruling of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Chol Ha’Mo’ed

The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha&......

Read Halacha

Everything is Foreseen and Permission is Granted

Israeli Independence Day is celebrated today. Since we have discussed this topic several times in the past, we will not delve into this matter lengthily at this point. Let us just note that according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, although one must show thanks to Hashem for removing the ......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh The famous order of the Seder of the eve of Pesach, Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah, was established by the leader of the entire Jewish nation, Rashi. The entire Jewish nation cus......

Read Halacha

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

One Who is Unsure Whether or Not One Has Counted the Omer

We have already explained that one who has forgotten to count the Omer one day during the counting period may no longer count with a blessing on the subsequent days. The reason for this is because the Rishonim disagree as to whether the Mitzvah of counting the Omer is one long Mitzvah that span......

Read Halacha

Fallen Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces

On the night of the 25th of Tevet, 5736 (1976), a memorial service was held for seven young men killed in Zion Square in Jerusalem by Palestinian terrorists. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l spoke beautifully at this event and we shall thus quote some select excerpts from his discourse: Our......

Read Halacha