Halacha for Tuesday 24 Tevet 5782 December 28 2021

Performing Netilat Yadayim Without a Vessel

Question: We have already established that the hand-washing after entering the restroom need not be done specifically using a vessel; rather, it is sufficient for one to rinse one’s hands directly from the faucet. Does this apply equally to the Netilat Yadayim before a bread meal in that one will be able to wash one’s hands directly from the faucet by opening and closing the faucet three times on each hand or is there an obligation to wash one’s hands specifically using a vessel?

Answer: Regarding our issue of washing one’s hands for a bread meal under the faucet by opening and closing the water three times, the Poskim discuss several doubts that exist regarding a faucet.

“The Action of One Pouring”
The first doubt is regarding what the Gemara says that the water of this Netilat Yadayim must result from the action of a person, or even an animal for that matter, who is pouring the water. However, if the water is passively poured on its own, for instance, if water is dripping out of a hole in a bucket, one may not wash one’s hands in this way since the water is being poured of its own accord and not a result of the actual pouring of a man.

However, this issue should not invalidate washing one’s hands from the faucet, for Halacha dictates that if a faucet is attached to a barrel, one may indeed wash his hands from this faucet, for the water emerges as a result of the opening of the faucet and the water is not considered coming of its own accord; rather, it is the result of an active pouring. Since the faucet must actively be turned on and off by the individual’s actions, it would seem that it should be permissible for use for Netilat Yadayim.

“A Vessel”
Nevertheless, there is another issue which should invalidate washing one’s hands from the faucet which is that halachically speaking, the Netilat Yadayim before a bread meal as well as the morning Netilat Yadayim must be done specifically using a vessel. We must determine whether or not a faucet has the status of a vessel, for it has a hole on both sides, similar to a pipe, and thus cannot be considered a vessel. This is indeed the consensus of most Acharonim that a faucet is not considered a vessel regarding Netilat Yadayim.

Nevertheless, if the faucet is connected to a tank which is situated on the roof through pipes (as was the case until not long ago and still is common in some places around the world), it would seem that the faucet and the pipe should be considered part of the tank and the tank itself is certainly considered a vessel; it should therefore be permissible to wash one’s hands from a faucet which is connected to a tank. However, we may claim that, on the contrary, since the water passes through a pipe which is not considered a vessel, this cannot be considered washing one’s hands from the tank. This is indeed the opinion of Hagaon Harav Ben-Zion Abba Shaul zt”l that such a Netilat Yadayim is invalid since the pipes which separate the faucet and the tank cause it not to be considered as though one were washing one’s hands directly from the tank which is valid in and of itself for hand-washing.

Nevertheless, according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, in pressing circumstances when one does not have a vessel with which to wash one’s hands, one may wash one’s hands under the faucet by opening and closing the faucet three times. Nevertheless, this only applies when the faucet is connected through pipes to the water tank on the roof.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha


Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

Frying Fish in a Meat Pot, Baking Fish and Meat in the Same Oven, and Maran zt”l’s Custom

There is a well-known prohibition of eating fish and meat together, as discussed by the Gemara and Poskim. Cooking Fish in a Meat Pot Although it is prohibited to cook a dairy dish in a meat pot as we have discussed in a previous Halacha, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writ......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha