Halacha for Tuesday 30 Shevat 5782 February 1 2022

Using the Restroom in the Middle of a Meal

Question: If one uses the restroom in the middle of a bread meal, must one wash his hands with a blessing and recite the Hamotzi blessing on the bread upon returning to the meal or not?

Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules (Chapter 164) that if one touches a covered part of one’s body during the meal, one must wash one’s hands again and recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing.

The Opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch
The above certainly applies to one who uses the restroom and cleans himself during the meal where according to Maran, one will be required to wash one’s hands again three times from a vessel, just as one would need to before a bread meal. If one wishes to continue eating bread, one will also be required to recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing again. After reciting this blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing for having used the restroom.

Thus, according to Maran, one who leaves to use the restroom after having washed one’s hands and beginning a bread meal must wash one’s hands again upon exiting the restroom with a blessing, as if he would be beginning the meal at this moment.

The Opinion of the Maharshal
Nevertheless, Hagaon Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria) disagrees with Maran in his Yam Shel Shlomo and writes that although one is obligated to wash one’s hands out of cleanliness, however, one is not obligated to perform an actual Netilat Yadayim by washing his hands three times using a vessel; one certainly should not recite a blessing on this hand-washing because it is not included in the laws of Netilat Yadayim for a bread meal.

Many Acharonim quote the opinion of the Maharshal as Halacha. This is indeed the Ashkenazi custom. However, Sephardic Jewry always follow the rulings of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch.

Should One Recite the Blessing Here?
Nevertheless, following the rule of “When in doubt regarding a blessing, do not bless,” it would seem that even Sephardic Jews who follow the rulings of the saintly Maran HaShulchan Aruch, one should not recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing in this situation, for there is concern for a blessing in vain. This is indeed the custom of many Sephardic individuals who, after using the restroom in the middle of the meal, wash their hands three times in accordance with the ruling of Maran but do not recite a blessing on this washing out of concern for the opinion of the Maharshal.

On the other hand, it seems that according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, one who uses the restroom in the middle of the meal and wishes to continue eating bread should indeed wash one’s hands and recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing. This is because Maran zt”l references a rule in several places throughout his works that although we are concerned with blessings in vain even when this against the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, nevertheless, when the disagreement is not about the blessing itself, rather, it is regarding the actual Mitzvah and the blessing is only a result of the actual disagreement, such as our scenario where the dispute is not about whether or not to recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing, rather, it is if the obligation to wash one’s hands in this situation is a full Netilat Yadayim for a bread meal, i.e. three times using a vessel or whether one must merely wash one’s hands for hygiene, in such a situation, we are not concerned about a possible blessing in vain against the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. Since the halachic decision regarding this Mitzvah follows Maran who rules that one must perform a proper Netilat Yadayim, it follows that one must likewise recite a blessing on this Mitzvah. The Halacha Berura rules likewise in this scenario that we are not concerned for a blessing in vain here.

Clearly though, one should only recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing when one intends to eat at least a Kebeitza or 54 grams of bread upon returning from the restroom, for if not, one would not recite this blessing in any case, as is the law anytime one washes one’s hands for a bread meal.

Summary: If one leaves to use the restroom in the middle of a bread meal, one must wash one’s hands again before resuming one’s meal. If one wishes to continue eating bread as well, one may recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing on this handwashing. The Ashkenazi custom is not to recite a blessing on this handwashing.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Proper Way to Immerse Vessels in a Mikveh

One must make certain that there is nothing separating between the vessel one is immersing and the waters of the Mikveh. Thus, when one is immersing a vessel, one must hold the vessel loosely, for if one holds it tight, one’s hand will be separating between the vessel and the waters of the Mik......

Read Halacha

Question: Is one obligated to wait six hours after eating meat foods before eating dairy foods?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (105a) states: “Mor Ukva said: When my father would eat meat, he would not eat cheese until the next day. Regarding myself, however, within the same meal I do not eat meat and then cheese, but I would eat cheese during the next meal.” The Rif writes......

Read Halacha

Reading Scripture at Night

Question: May one read chapters of Tanach or Tehillim at night or is this forbidden according to Kabbalah? Is there room for leniency when this reading is being done for the sake of an ill individual or a woman in labor? Answer: Maran Ha’Chida in his Responsa Yosef Ometz (Chapter 54) quotes......

Read Halacha

Spiritual Blockage of the Heart

Question: Must one be careful regarding the Kashrut standards of the foods one’s children eat as well? Answer: Regarding any food which is prohibited for consumption by the Torah, such as milk and meat or an impure animal’s milk, it is certainly forbidden to give such foods to childre......

Read Halacha


Drinking Beverages in a Café or in a Home Where the Vessels have not been Immersed in a Mikveh

Question: May one drink coffee in a friend’s home or in a Café (such as an espresso without milk served in Cafes) when they are not meticulous about immersing their vessels in a Mikveh? Answer: In the Halachot discussed before Tisha Be’av, we have explained that vessels produc......

Read Halacha

Question: Do disposable vessels and electric kettles require immersion in a Mikveh?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the general law that any new vessels purchased from a non-Jew must be immersed in a Mikveh before using them. We shall now discuss whether or not disposable vessels require immersion. We have already explained that according to Maran zt”l,......

Read Halacha

Eating Dairy Items after Eating Poultry

In the previous Halacha we have discussed in general the law that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating dairy foods either because the nature of meat is to get stuck between one’s teeth or because meat gives off a taste in one’s mouth for a prolonged amount of time. ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha