- Question: [Thursday, 26th Teves 5781]
Last Shabbos I was talking to someone while washing hands and was told by an individual that it’s forbidden to talk while washing. I was kind of surprised, as while I always knew you can’t talk after washing until the blessing of Hamotzi is recited, I was never made aware of any prohibition of talking during washing itself. What in truth does Halacha say?
It is forbidden to speak while washing hands or between the washing and blessing of Al Netilas Yadayim, and doing so is even more severe than speaking between the washing and Hamotzi. Thus, from the moment you start washing your hands for bread you may not speak until the blessing of Hamotzi is recited.
Explanation: The prohibition against speaking between washing and the blessing of Hamotzi is due to the issue of Hesech Hadaas, and therefore according to many Poskim, including Admur in his Shulchan Aruch, speaking a few words between washing and Hamotzi is even initially permitted being that it does not cause any Hesech Hadaas [even though practically based on Admur in his Siddur we rule that one should not talk at all]. However, speaking between the washing and the blessing of Al Netilas Yadayim is much more severe, as it is considered like one is talking between the action and the blessing, and is similar to one who spoke between the blessing over food and the eating of the food. Accordingly, Admur rules that one who used the bathroom before washing for the meal and accidentally washed for bread without first rinsing his hands for Asher Yatzar, then he is to first say the blessing over the washing and only then say Asher Yatzar [before Hamotzi] rather than first say Asher Yatzar and only then say the blessing over the washing, as the blessing of Asher Yatzar is not considered an interval between the washing and Hamotzi, although it is considered an interval between the washing and the blessing of Al Netilas Yadayim. Now, regarding when this restriction against speaking begins, if it is only after the completion of the washing, or even from the very start of the first washing? So, it is clear that the restriction applies from the very start of the first washing, as the moment that one begins washing his hands, he has begun the mitzvah. We find a precedent for this in the laws of Bedikas Chametz where we rule that initially one should not speak of mundane matters during the search being that initially one may not make an interval of middle of a mitzvah until it is completed, and the same would apply here regarding washing hands and its blessing that is said afterward. Furthermore, according to many opinions once one washes his hands one time with a Revius the mitzvah is considered already fulfilled. Hence, in order not to speak between the mitzvah and it’s blessing one is to be careful to abstain from speaking from the moment that he begins to wash his hands, and certainly from when both hands have already been washed one time.
Sources: See Admur 158:16; 165:1 “(Between the washing and blessing one needs to be even more careful, being that it contains two intervals, one between the washing and its blessing and the washing and Hamotzi) Accordingly those who are careful not to speak between the washing and Hamotzi but speak between the washing and its blessing are mistaken and need to be warned not to speak at all”; Seder Netilas Yadayim 5; Derushei Tzelach 4:22; See regarding not speaking starting from the first washing: Levushei Mordechai Telisa O.C. 19;Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:115; Piskeiy Teshuvos 158:23 footnotes 18-20; See regarding speaking between the washing and Hamotzi: Admur 166:1; Seder Netilas Yadayim 6; Michaber 166:1