- Question: [Tuesday, 5th Tammuz, 5781]
When we were in Israel a few years back, we bought from a souvenir shop a quite expensive pottery made Neigal Vaaser cup with hand designed paintings. After a few years of use, the pottery has begun to crack by its inside, although the outside is still whole and therefore there is no leakage from the cup. My question is regarding whether it is still allowed to be used for washing hands for bread?
So long as the crack has not penetrated to the other side of the cup and remains only internal, then it is permitted to be used even initially.
Explanation: Although amongst the laws of washing hands we find a requirement for the vessel to be whole, and not contain any cracks or holes, this is due to the fact that a vessel with a crack or hole cannot hold water from that area and above, thus making that area and above considered not to be a vessel, and causing the water being poured from it to be considered not being poured out from a vessel. However, if no water is able to escape, such as in the case that the crack does not penetrate from side to side, then although the vessel is not in perfect shape it can still perfectly hold water, and therefore is considered completely valid for washing hands. The fact that the crack may eventually continue and penetrate from side to side does not invalidate the vessel at the current moment prior to it doing so. This is agreed upon by all Poskim.
Sources: Admur Seder Netilas Yadayim 12 “Nekev Oa Sedek Mefulash…Sedakim Mefulashim”; See also Michaber 159:1 and Admur 159:4 that the Shiur is Koneis Mashkeh for a hole and 159:12 for a dispute if its Koneis Mashkeh or Motzi Mashkeh for a crack, and the main opinion is that its Koneis Mashkeh; Semag Asei 27 Netilas Yadayim; Semak 183; Beis Yosef 159; Regarding suspecting that the crack may continue to the other side, see: M”B 159:11 [according to Bach we suspect it will fully crack if it is already Motzi Mashkeh, and one should rule like this regarding Keli Cheres, and if glass can no longer hold hot water, its invalid]; Kaf Hachaim 159:14; Admur 586:8 [regarding crack by shofar]; M”B 586:38 [that the crack must be Mefulash to be a problem]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 159:4-5