Halacha for Thursday 12 Tevet 5782 December 16 2021

If One Washes One’s Hands and then Decides Not to Eat

Question: If one washes his hands and then sometime during the meal decides not to any more bread, what must one do?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have explained that one who eats less than a Kebeitza (approximately fifty grams) of bread, one must wash his hands without reciting a blessing. If one eats less than a Kezayit (twenty-seven grams) of bread, one need not wash his hands at all.

Now our question is better understood. If one washes his hands with the intention of eating a large amount of bread and then changes his mind and decides not even to eat a Kebeitza amount of bread, is such a thing permissible? If one does not eat at least a Kebeitza of bread, the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing that one recited beforehand will have been in vain!

The Ritba discusses this issue (in his commentary on Chullin 106b) and writes: “One who washes his hands for a bread meal, recites the ‘Al Netilat Yadayim’ blessing, and then changes his mind and does not eat, this is no problem and we do not obligate him to eat so that his blessing is not (retroactively) in vain, for at the time he washed his hands, he was obligated to do so since he still intended to eat at that point. I have shared this ruling with my teacher, may Hashem protect him, and he agreed with me.”

This means that since our Sages instituted that one who wishes to eat more than a Kebeitza of bread must wash his hands and recite a blessing, if one intends to eat this amount of bread, one must wash his hands and recite the appropriate blessing. Immediately after one concludes washing his hands, one is no longer obligated to eat bread and if one does not eat, one’s blessing will not have been in vain.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 1, Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 21) supports the Ritba’s opinion with sources from the Gemara and writes that this is indeed the correct Halacha and thus, one who washes his hands is no longer obligated to proceed and eat a Kebeitza of bread.

Nevertheless, the Sedeh Chemed writes that not all authorities agree with the Ritba. Therefore, although halachically speaking, the law follows the Ritba’s opinion, Maran zt”l writes in his Halichot Olam, Volume 1 (page 116) that if possible, one should preferably eat a Kebeitza because of the blessing he has recited.

Summary: If one washes his hands and recites the “Al Netilat Yadayim” for a bread meal and then changes his mind and does not wish to eat a Kebeitza of bread, one need not push himself to eat it. If at all possible, one should preferably eat a Kebeitza of bread in order to fulfill all opinions.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of th......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in h......

Read Halacha


Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha