Halacha for martes 25 Av 5781 3 August 2021

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, before eating Terumah, the Kohanim were required to wash their hands first so as not to impurify the Terumah by touching it. Our Sages ruled leniently for them that, if they wished, they would not need to wash their hands; rather, they would be permitted to eat their Terumah in a way where they would not touch it directly, i.e. by wrapping their hands in a cloth or by wearing gloves and the like). However, they did not permit a cloth for those eating their food amid purity (for in the times of the Bet Hamikdash, there were pious non-Kohanim who would eat all of their foods amid purity so as not to impurify their foods. These individuals would also need to wash their hands before eating any food so as not to impurify the food by touching it. Our Sages did not provide the leniency of eating without washing one’s hands by using a cloth for such people).” Rashi there explains that the reason why our Sages were lenient regarding this matter only with regards to Kohanim eating their Terumah and not for any other people is because the Kohanim were quite accustomed to eating all of their foods amid purity all their lives (for with regards to them, this matter could sometimes border on an actual prohibition) and there is therefore no need to be concerned that they will mistakenly touch their food with their hands. Thus, our Sages were lenient and allowed them to eat without first washing their hands through the use of a cloth. On the other hand, regarding other people who were not as accustomed and careful to eat their food amid purity (for this matter never borders on an actual prohibition for them and they were therefore less meticulous in this regard), we must be concerned that they will mistakenly touch the food with their hands. Therefore, there is no room for leniency for them to eat with the use of a cloth without first washing their hands.

Based on this, many Rishonim deduce from here regarding the hand-washing we perform before eating bread that since we can certainly not be included in the category of the Kohanim who were especially careful to keep their foods pure, the rabbinic edict to wash one’s hands before eating a bread meal is applicable in any case and one may not act leniently by eating with the use of a napkin. If one does eat with the use of a napkin in order to circumvent the requirement to wash one’s hands, one has nullified an edict of our Sages. The Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 163) rule likewise. All this applies to one who would like to eat a food dipped in liquid (which requires a hand-washing before) as well.

Summary: One may not act leniently and eat bread without first washing one’s hands even if one is not directly touching the bread with one’s hands, for instance, if one is eating with a napkin and the like; in any case, one is obligated to wash one’s hands. However, there is one situation where the Sages were lenient and permitted one to eat bread without first washing one’s hands. We shall discuss this further, G-d-willing, in the following Halacha.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

SI LAVA SUS MANOS Y DECIDE NO COMER

Pregunta: si realizó el lavado ritual de manos –netilat yadaim- y ya en medio de la comida decide no continuar comiendo pan ¿qué debe hacer? Respuesta: Como vimos anteriormente, la persona que se dispone a comer sólo un trozo de pan menor a “cabet......

Read Halacha

EL ENCENDIDO DE LAS LUMINARIAS DE JANUCÁ

PRECEPTO DEL ENCENDIDO. Todos los ocho días de Janucá  -siendo para el año 5782, comenzará el domingo 28 de noviembre por la noche, es decir víspera del lunes- es una mitzvá encender luminarias. Los sefaradim acostumbran a encender un candelabro por fa......

Read Halacha

BIRKAT HAMAZON CAMINANDO

Pregunta: Si come mientras está caminando ¿puede pronunciar el Birkat Hamazon asimismo caminando? Respuesta: Como vimos en la entrega anterior, el Birkat Hamazon debe pronunciarse sentado. Esto se concluye del Talmud (Berajot 51ª) donde se estudia que incluso si la pe......

Read Halacha

ALIMENTOS PRINCIPALES Y SECUNDARIOS

El Talmud (Berajot 44ª) enseña: Si le ofrecen –al hombre- un alimento sumamente salado- o dulce por demás- (ver tosafot  Ib) como comida principal y la  acompañan con un trozo de pan, pronunciará la bendición correspondiente al a......

Read Halacha


ALIMENTOS MEZCLADOS 1

En la entrega anterior, hablamos sobre la legislación de dos alimentos cuyas bendiciones son diferentes y uno de ellos se considera principal y otro secundario a éste, en cuyo caso bendice sólo por el alimento principal y exime al secundario. Por lo tanto, si consume un alimento......

Read Halacha

BENDICION FINAL BORE NEFASHOT

Como hemos visto oportunamente, existen alimentos cuya bendición final es “nefashot”, se trata de alimentos como por ej. Verduras frescas, una zanahoria o frutos que no pertenecen a las especies con que fue bendita la tierra de Israel o bebidas. El texto de esta bendició......

Read Halacha

BIRKAT HAMAZON SENTADO

Pregunta:  Está permitido pronunciar Birkat Hamazon mientra se camina o es necesario sentarse? Respuesta: Del Talmud (Berajot 51ª) se concluye que el Birkat Hamazon se debe pronunciar sentado, y así lo dictamina Maran (Sh. Aruj cap. 183). El motivo por el cual Birk......

Read Halacha

ALIMENTOS PRINCIPALES Y SECUNDARIOS –CONTINUACIÓN-

Pregunta: La persona que come un trozo de pescado acompañado de pan ¿exime la bendición del pescado al pan por ser secundario a éste? Respuesta: como vimos anteriormente, existen alimentos importantes y los secundarios a estos. Tafel veikar, como en el caso d......

Read Halacha