Halacha for Monday 13 Av 5780 August 3 2020

Netilat Yadayim for One Who Has Touched his Feet or a Baby

One who touches parts of the body which are usually covered, such as one’s shoulders or feet, one must wash one’s hands. One may also not recite words of holiness, such as blessings or Torah study, until one does so.

Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l writes in his Responsa Torah Lishma (Chapter 14) that if one touches a body part that is usually covered, one must wash the entire hand and merely washing that part of the hand or fingers that touched the body part is insufficient. For instance, if one touched one’s foot or leg with one’s finger, washing that finger is not sufficient and one must wash one’s entire hand. The Mishnah Berura (Chapter 613, Subsection 6) and Yalkut Yosef (Chapter 4, page 399) rule likewise, although there are those that disagree.

Netilat Yadayim in this context refers to washing one’s hand under the faucet and one need not necessarily use a vessel. If one touched the sole of one’s foot, one should preferably wash one’s hands three times (see Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 1, Section 5).

The Poskim disagree regarding one who touches a baby whose body is not usually as covered as adults. For instance, during the summer months when it is commonplace for a baby’s legs and feet to be uncovered, if one touches a baby’s feet, since for the baby, these areas of his body are not truly considered “covered”, must one wash one’s hands or not?

Clearly, this refers to touching a baby’s feet when they are clean, for if they are soiled or if one touches the soles of the baby’s feet, one must certainly wash one’s hands.

Halachically speaking, Hagaon Chazon Ish ruled stringently in this regard as is quoted in his name in several books (see Piskei Teshuvot, Volume 1, Chapter 4, note 228). Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l is quoted as having ruled leniently (see Ohr Le’Zion, Volume 2, Chapter 44, Section 6). This seems to be the prevalent custom nowadays. We have heard Maran zt”l rule likewise.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Sucking On a Fruit

Question: If one sucks on an orange or a grapefruit but does not chew it with one’s teeth, must one recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” like on other fruits or should one recite the “Shehakol” blessing like one would when drinking other fruit juices? Answer: Indeed,......

Read Halacha

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

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

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


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

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat? Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Precedence Regarding Blessings

On the night of Tu Bishvat, which will fall out this coming Wednesday night, it is customary to eat a variety of fruits. We shall therefore learn the proper order of the Blessings of Enjoyment during the coming days. We should point out that these laws are fairly simple but we will need to discus......

Read Halacha