Halacha for Sunday 12 Sivan 5781 May 23 2021

Question: Must one wash the hands of young children when they wake up from their sleep?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed the basis for washing one’s hands in the morning. We have also mentioned in passing that one should preferably not touch any food items before washing one’s hands, for an evil spirit rests on one’s hands prior to washing them.

Based on this it would seem that one should take care to wash the hands of young children, including infants, for we must assume that they will touch food items while this evil spirit still rests on their hands. The Peri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav, Subsection 7) mentions this and writes that he does not know why people are not careful about this, however, it is correct to wash their hands every morning, for the issue of the danger posed by this evil spirit is more severe than an issue related to a prohibition. Maran Ha’Chida in his Moreh Be’Etzba writes likewise. Hagaon Ya’abetz writes in his Siddur that people are customarily not so meticulous about this matter, however, halachically, one should take care to wash one’s children’s hands in the morning.

Hagaon Harav Eliezer Papo (author of Peleh Yo’etz and father-in-law of Hagaon Harav Aharon Azriel, who was one of Jerusalem’s greatest luminaries) writes in his Chesed La’Alafim: “How good and worthy it is to wash the hands of one’s infants so that they may grow up amid purity and holiness.” We can infer from his words that this is not obligatory according to the letter of the law; rather, it is only a gesture of cleanliness and purity. Several Poskim write likewise that this is not mandatory according to the letter of the law, for the evil spirit does not rest on the hands of children. Hagaon Rabbeinu Zalman explains this further in his Shulchan Aruch that the primary entry of the holy soul into a human being occurs when he becomes obligated in Mitzvot, i.e. the age of thirteen for a boy and the age of twelve for a girl. Conversely, the power of impurity does not become strong within a person until he has the power of holiness within him. Nevertheless, the words of Hagaon Harav Eliezer Papo still apply, that as a result of washing the child’s hands, the child will grow with an added measure of purity, even if the evil spirit that rests upon the child’s hands is not yet at its fullest intensity.

Thus, halachically speaking, it is certainly worthy and proper to follow the opinion of the Poskim who write that one should wash one’s children’s hands in the morning, especially at a stage when they already touch food. By doing so, the child will grow up amid purity. This is indeed the prevalent custom today among many G-d-fearing people.

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah

Since there is not so much time left to discuss the laws of Sukkot, let us now spend the next few Halachot discussing some pertinent Halachot for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. A Meal of an Established Character Throughout the entire Sukkot holiday, both during the night and day, it is prohibited ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Selichot Alone, Without a Minyan

Question: If one is unable to recite Selichot with a Minyan (quorum of at least ten Jewish men) for whatever reason or if a woman wishes to recite Selichot and she cannot do so with a Minyan, may one recite the Selichot texts alone or should one abstain from doing so? Answer: If one wishes to rec......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating a Kezayit of Bread in the Sukkah on the First Night of Sukkot and One who is Uncomfortable in the Sukkah

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one may not eat an established meal outside of the Sukkah anytime during the Sukkot holiday. One must be aware that the reward for the Mitzvah of Sukkah is that it protects one during turbulent times (see Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh). The Mitzvah of......

Read Halacha

The Custom of “Tashlich”

Following Mincha services of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to a seashore, river, well, or pit in order to recite the order of “Tashlich.” If there is no river, lake, or pond in close proximity of one’s vicinity, it is likewise perfectly acceptable to recite ......

Read Halacha

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.” One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashana......

Read Halacha

Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

It is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on the day of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse states, “It shall be a day of [Shofar] blasts for you.” One may not speak between the various sets of Shofar blasts and certainly not during the blasts themselves. The Poskim disagree r......

Read Halacha