Halacha for Sunday 16 Cheshvan 5778 November 5 2017

Washing One’s Face and Mouth

Question: My daily routine consists of washing my hands in the morning, praying Shacharit, and then washing my face on my way out of the house. Is my routine correct?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 50b) states: “One must wash one’s face, hands, and feet every day in honor of one’s Maker, as the verse states, “Whatever Hashem has done is for His sake.” The Rambam (Chapter 4 of Hilchot Tefillah) writes that before praying Shacharit, one must wash his face, hands, and feet, in honor of Hashem.

Nevertheless, other Rishonim disagree with the Rambam’s opinion and write that there is no special obligation to do so specifically before praying (see Meiri’s Bet Ha’Bechira on the above Gemara and the notation of the Ra’avad on the aforementioned Rambam). Thus, regarding our question about whether or not one must wash his face specifically before praying, according to the Rambam, indeed, one must wash one’s face before praying while according to the other Rishonim, one need not do so.

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 92) writes that the prevalent does not follow the Rambam who writes that one must “wash his feet.” He writes that that based on the custom of the world, we certainly do not follow the Rambam’s opinion regarding this matter. Other great Poskim rule likewise (see Halacha Berura, Chapter 4). Nevertheless, this only applies to washing one’s feet and only with regards to this is the custom not to wash one’s feet before Shacharit, especially in our countries where people usually walk around with their feet covered. However, it seems that one should take care to wash his face before the Shacharit prayer; it is indeed proper to do so according the opinion of the great Mekubalim.

This is especially true nowadays when we are much more hygienically conscious than previous generations; it is therefore correct for one to wash his face and wash his mouth or brush his teeth before praying in order for one not to appear repulsive while praying and not to remain with something which disturbs one’s concentration during prayer. Indeed, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 92, Section 3) writes: “One must remove anything which disturbs him before praying.”

Summary: One should preferably take care to wash one’s face and mouth before praying Shacharit and not pray first and only then wash one’s face (excluding fast days, especially Yom Kippur). If one has already prayed without having washed his face and the like, one has surely fulfilled his obligation to pray.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Precedence Regarding Blessings (Continued)

In the previous Halacha we have explained that there are instances that priority is given to recite a blessing upon a certain food over another because of the innate significance of the given food, for instance, because it is a fruit that belongs to the Seven Species of fruits that the Land of Israe......

Read Halacha

The Month of Shevat and the Law that Food Must be in Front of the Individual While Reciting a Blessing

Next Wednesday (actually, beginning from next Tuesday night) will mark the Fifteenth of Shevat or Tu Bishvat. We will therefore begin a segment on the laws of Blessings of Enjoyment. In following Halachot we shall discuss some more laws pertaining to reciting blessings which we have discussed in the......

Read Halacha

Precedence Regarding the Order of Blessings (Continued)

Summary of the Laws Explained Thus Far In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings, sometimes because of the innate importance of the food and sometimes due to the importance of the blessing. Priority of “Boreh Peri Ha’etz”......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Blessing on Fruits

In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings. Thus, if one wishes to partake of apples and dates, one must recite the blessing on the dates, for they are one of the Seven Species. Precedence Regarding Blessing-Only Preferable Maran Ha’Be......

Read Halacha


Question: Is one permitted to act stringently in any situation one pleases?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one must wait six hours between eating meat and cheese in accordance with the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. This law is based on a Gemara in Masechet Chullin (105a). For the purpose of our discussion, we shall quote the words of the G......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat Dishes after Dairy Foods

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the laws of eating dairy foods after meat. We have explained that one must wait six hours between eating the respective foods. We shall now discuss the laws of eating meat dishes after dairy foods. The Opinion of the Gemara which Permits Eating Meat aft......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Eating Cheese after Meat

In the previous Halachot we have mentioned that after eating meat, one must wait six hours before eating dairy products. A Woman who has Given Birth or is Nursing A woman who is within thirty days of having given birth may eat dairy products after eating meat and she need not wait six hours. It ......

Read Halacha

Eating Dairy Items after Eating Poultry

In the previous Halacha we have discussed in general the law that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating dairy foods either because the nature of meat is to get stuck between one’s teeth or because meat gives off a taste in one’s mouth for a prolonged amount of time. ......

Read Halacha