Halacha for Tuesday 14 Av 5780 August 4 2020

Sticking One’s Hand into the Restroom

If one enters the restroom, one must wash one’s hands upon exiting, even if one did not facilities. Hand-washing in this regard refers to washing one’s hand under the faucet; it is proper to do this three times. However, washing one’s hands with a vessel is not necessary.

The reason one must wash one’s hands upon emerging from the restroom is because an evil spirit rests there and when one enters, this evil spirit rests on one’s hands. In order to remove this spirit from one’s hands, one must wash one’s hands with water (see Reponsa Yabia Omer, Volume 3, Chapter 1 and Yechave Da’at, Volume 3, Chapter 1).

Indeed, we once witnessed that Maran zt”l had come to visit the new house of a lonely woman in order to gladden her. She gave Maran zt”l a guided tour of all of the rooms in the house and he followed her into every room. However, when she showed him the bathroom, Maran zt”l did not wish to enter so as not to become obligated to wash his hands and remain there longer than necessary.

It happens sometimes that one will stick one’s hand into the bathroom to grab a tissue and the like. The question becomes: Can the evil spirit rest on only one hand or shall we say that even in this case, one must still wash both hands?

Hagaon Maharsham (in his Da’at Torah, Chapter 4) writes that if one sticks one’s hand into the bathroom, one need not wash even the hand that was stuck in, for the evil spirit does not rest on one’s hands in this manner. He proceeds to support his opinion with a proof. Nevertheless, the Yalkut Yosef (Chapter 3, page 459) rebuffs this proof.

Hagaon Rabbeinu Chaim Palagi zt”l writes in his Sefer Ruach Chaim (Chapter 3) that if one sticks one’s hand into the restroom, one must wash both hands, for the evil spirit rests on the hand one stuck in to the restroom and this, in turn, causes it to rest on both hands. Several Poskim concur and write that this situation is not analogous to that of when one touches filthy with one hand in which case one must only wash that hand, for there, there is no concern of an evil spirit and the hand-washing is meant for cleanliness and hygienic purposes. On the other hand, as we have explained, entering the restroom entails an element of retaining an evil spirit on one’s hands.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 9, Chapter 108, Section 15) that it seems that if one stuck only one hand into the bathroom, it is sufficient to wash only that hand, for the evil spirit does not rest on both hands in this way. He proceeds to support this with several proofs. However, if one does wash both hands, this is especially admirable.

Summary: If one enters the restroom, one must wash one’s hands upon exiting. If one sticks one’s hand into the restroom, one must wash at least that hand.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

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

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Caution Regarding Chametz Issues

Our Sages (Tosefta Pesachim, Chapter 3) taught: “We inquire about and expound the laws of Pesach from thirty days before Pesach.” Based on this, great rabbis throughout the generations have taken the opportunity to teach the laws of Pesach to the public between Purim and Pesach since eve......

Read Halacha

Silver Vessels

Question: May one continue to use silver vessels or utensils, such as a Kiddush goblet, on Pesach after they have been used throughout the rest of the year? Answer: All vessels used all year round with cold foods or beverages may be used on Pesach after having been thoroughly washed beforehand, f......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Koshering Vessels for Pesach

One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Days of Purim and the Laws of Mishloach Manot- 5781

The Days of Purim Purim will be celebrated in approximately two weeks from today. This year, we must discuss several unique laws, first of all, because Purim day (the 14th of Adar) falls out on a Friday. Second of all, in Jerusalem, a “three-day Purim” will be celebrated since the 15th ......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha