Halacha for Tuesday 12 Tammuz 5781 June 22 2021

Food Items Touched by One Who Did Not Wash One’s Hands in the Morning

In the past, we have explained the obligation for one to wash one’s hands from a vessel every morning upon awakening from his sleep.

We have also explained that when one awakens from one’s sleep in the morning, an evil spirit rests on one’s hands, for sleep is considered one-sixtieth of death; only through washing one’s hands according to Halacha is this evil spirit removed. It is therefore prohibited to touch food items or beverages before washing one’s hands in the morning, for by doing so, the evil spirit rests on the food items one touches.

We shall now discuss a situation that arises many times in which bakery owners who bake bread are not necessarily G-d-fearing people and they have probably not washed their hands in the morning. Since they touch and are involved with the kneading of the dough or setting up the loaves of bread on display, it would seem that the evil spirit rests on these items and one should avoid buying them.

Indeed, Maran Ha’Chida and Hagaon Rabbeinu Eliyahu of Vilna write that a food item touched by one who did not wash his hands in the morning may not be eaten, for the evil spirit rests on it and there is concern for danger regarding this matter.  Sources for their words can be found in the words of the earlier Poskim.

Nevertheless, there are those that say that one need not be concerned about this if the food items were already touched; only preferably should food items not be touched to begin with before washing one’s hands. This is especially true according to what we have already established that nowadays, the evil spirit is not as common as it was in the earlier generations. Based on this, there is room for leniency regarding this matter.

Another reason for leniency is because most people do indeed wash their hands in the morning, albeit not according to Halacha; nevertheless, the power of the evil spirit is weakened due to the hand-washing.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Yabia Omer, Volume One) has brought a proof to this idea that the evil spirit is weakened by even a regular hand-washing, for the Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah tells us that people would customarily crush grapes for wine-making in the wine-press using their feet. The Mekubalim write that the same evil spirit that rests on one’s hands rests on one’s feet as well and the reason we customarily do not wash our feet in the morning in order to remove this evil spirit is because the strength of the attachment of the evil spirit on the feet is very great and washing them would not help at all. In any case, people would customarily not be concerned about this evil spirit and they would crush grapes with their bare feet. Certainly, the reason for this must be because people would wash their feet for cleanliness purposes before crushing the grapes and at that point, there would be no more concern about the evil spirit being transferred to the food items coming into contact with one’s feet as the power of the evil spirit is weakened even through a regular washing.

Thus, regarding loaves of bread and the like that were touched by someone who most probably did not wash his hands in the morning, one may act leniently and use such items that have already been touched. However, if food items were touched by someone who did not wash his hands but they are able to be washed with water, such as fruits, vegetables, and the like, it is preferable to wash them under running water from the faucet three times and by doing so, one removes any concerns of the evil spirit from them.

Summary: Food items that were touched by someone who most probably did not wash his hands in the morning (i.e. Netilat Yadayim) are permitted to be eaten. If it is possible to wash them, it is proper to wash them three times under running water.

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

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha