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.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Parashat Ki Tetze

Gathered from the teachings of Maran Rebbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztzvk”l (from the years 5744-5772) (written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a) (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) Ellul is the Time to Engage in Battle Against the Yetzer Hara, ......

Read Halacha

Eating Cake on Shabbat Morning

Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of All Our Dear Soldiers May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls......

Read Halacha

 The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing

Our Sages teach us (Eruvin 40b) that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing a new fruit that renews once a year. Even if one sees this fruit in the hands of another person or on the tree, one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. Nevertheless, the P......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Blood Found in Eggs

Blood in Eggs Blood found in eggs is forbidden for consumption, for this blood indicates the beginning of the embryotic development of the chick and this chick has the halachic status of “fowl” whose blood is forbidden for consumption by Torah law; thus, the opinion of the Rosh and Tosa......

Read Halacha


Parashat Terumah

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Difference Between Moshe and Betzalel [Understanding Why Betzalel Was Able to Make the Menorah, Whilst Moshe Couldn’t] This Sh......

Read Halacha

The Proper Method for Reciting Blessings

During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings. Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the I......

Read Halacha

The Scent of Lemon

Question: If one smells the pleasant scent of a lemon, which blessing should one recite? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 43b) states: “Mor Zutra said: One who smells the fragrance of an Etrog  (citron), or a quince recites the blessing of ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’......

Read Halacha

Parashat Vayechi

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Power of a Good Word In the weekly Parashah, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons and blessed them before he passed away, as the Torah sta......

Read Halacha