Washing hands after a Funeral

One who attended a funeral is not required to wash his hands afterwards. Nevertheless the custom is to wash hands after attending a funeral.


Must one wash hands if he was not within four Amos of the corpse?
One is not required to wash hands after a funeral unless he was within four Amos of the corpse.[2] Nevertheless the custom today is to wash hands upon attending a funeral even if one was not within four Amos of the corpse.[3]

 How is one to wash hands after a funeral?[4]
Although from the letter of the law washing one time suffices, the custom is to wash ones hands three times inconsecutively[5] after leaving a funeral.

 The order to be followed upon leaving a Levaya?[6]

  1. Throwing grass:[7] After the burial, upon leaving the cemetery, one uproots earth and grass[8], and tosses it behind his back. [This is done three times.[9] While doing so one recites the verse “Zechor Ki Afar Anachnu”.[10]]
  2. One is to try to leave the cemetery in a different path than the path he used to enter.[11]
  3. Washing hands: One washes his hands three times alternating between hands just like by washing upon awakening in the morning. One is not to enter into a house until after the washing.[12] Some have the custom to say the verse “Kaper Liamcha Yisrael” after washing.[13]
  4. Putting down the vessel: One does not take the vessel from another person’s hand and does not hand the vessel to another person. Rather one places it down and the next person takes it.[14] The custom is to place the vessel upside down.[15]
  5. Drying hands: One does not dry his hands with a towel and rather lets them dry on its own.[16]
  6. Washing face: One is to wash his face.[17] Some recite the verse “Bala Hamaves Lanetzach, Umacha Hashem Elokim Dima Meial Kol Panim Vicherpas Amo Yasir Meial Kol Haaretz Ki Hashem Diber”.[18]
  7. Sitting and reciting Yosheiv Biseiser:[19] After the washing one sits down and recites Vayehi Noam and Yosheiv Biseiser seven[20] times. One is to switch places between each time he recites it.[21] [One is to add one word to the last sentence each time he recites it. Thus the first time he recites it he ends with the word “Ki”. The second time he ends with the word “Ki Malachav”. The third time he ends with the word “Ki Malachav Yitzaveh”. The fourth time he ends with the words “Ki Malachav Yitzaveh Lach”. The fifth time he ends with the words “Lishmorcha”. The sixth time “Lishmorcha Bechol”. The seventh and final time he concludes with “Lishmorcha Bechol Derachecha”.[22]
  8. Going to Mikvah: Some have the custom to immerse in a Mikvah after a funeral.[23]

 Is one required to wash his hands and perform the above procedure even if he only attended part of the funeral procession and not the burial?[24]
Yes. If one escorted the body for four Amos he is to wash his hands [and perform the above procedure] afterwards.

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[1] Kama 4/18

[2] Migdal Oz [Yaavetz] brought in Ketzos Hashulchan supplements 1 p. 82; Peri Megadim 4 A”A 21; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 4/77; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 239; Nitei Gavriel 70/1 [However Tzaruch Iyun if the P”M was referring to a funeral or only one who is near a corpse]

[3] Ishkavta Direbbe p. 107; Nitei Gavriel 70/1 in name of a number of Poskim; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 239 in name of Chazon Ish

[4] Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29; See Elya Raba 4/12; Machatzis Hashekel 4/17; Soles Belula 4/14; Machazik Bracha 4/6 in name of Makor Chaim; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16; Kaf Hachaim 4/61; Olas Tamid; Shlah Shaar Haosiyos 9; Lev Chaim 1/63; Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 7/26; Ruach Chaim 4/3; Chesed Lealafim brought in Kaf Hachaim 4/61.


Kama 4/18; M”A 4/17; Seder Hayom; Kneses Hagedola; all rule that one is not required to wash three times. Nevertheless the custom today has become to follow the opinions brought above

[5] Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 29

[6] Gesher Hachaim 16/8; Beis Lechem Yehuda 376/4; Kaf Hachaim 4/78-80; Nitei Gavriel 70; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4/25

[7] Michaber Yoreh Deah 376/5

[8] One is to uproot the grass together with its earth. [Gesher Hachaim 16/9]

[9] This represents that in the future the dead will be purified with three items: water, earth and hyssop. [Chochmas Adam 158/29; Nitei Gavriel 80/2]

[10] A number of Poskim write one is to recite the verse “Zechor Ki Afar Anachnu” [Chochmas Adam 158/29; Gesher Hachaim ibid] However some write to say: Vayatzitzu Meir Kieisev Haaretz. [Nitei Gavriel 80/2; see Chochmas Adam ibid]

[11] Gesher Hachaim p. 93

[12] Rama 376/4 “And the custom of our fathers is Torah”. Brought in M”B 4/44

Entering a Beis Midrash or Shul: Some allow entering into a Beis Midrash. [Nitei Gavriel 70/5 and so is the Chabad custom]

[13] Gesher Hachaim ibid

[14] Beis Lechem Yehuda 376/4; Rav Akiva Eiger 376; Chochmas Adam 144/30; Elya Raba 224/7; Kaf Hachaim 4/79; Gesher Hachaim ibid

[15] Nitei Gavriel 70/2, and so is the Chabad custom. [ibid] Some say this is because we are particular not to leave any water in the vessel. [See Maavor Yabok 19; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 246]

[16] Beis Lechem Yehuda 376/4 as the custom of Jerusalem; Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 376/10; Gesher Hachaim ibid

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule it is not necessary to avoid drying the hands after washing. [Ikarei Daat 35/7; Siddur Beis Oveid; Gilyon Mahrsha; See Kaf Hachaim 4/78; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 16 rules one may be lenient to dry the hands in a cold area.]

[17] M”A 4/20 in name of Teshuvos Mahril; Kneses Hagedola 376/12 brought in Gilyon Mahrsha 376; Gesher Hachaim ibid;

Darkei Moshe 376/7 write this is no longer the custom

[18] Beis Lechem Yehuda 376; Gesher Hachaim ibid

[19] Rama 376/4; Gesher Hachaim 16/8 writes it is no longer the custom to perform this procedure with exception to the relatives of the person who passed away.

[20] The amount of times one is to sit: The Rama writes one is to sit seven times. However he then concludes “In these countries they are accustomed to only sit three times after washing.” The Shach 376/6 brings the Levush, Perisha and Rashal which rule it is to be said seven times. Gesher Hachaim ibid writes it is said three times.

[21] This is done in order to banish the evil spirits which escort a person until he sits down. [Rama ibid in name of Mahril 23] Every time one sits the evil spirits are expelled from the person. [Beis Lechem Yehuda ibid]

[22] Marshal in name of grandfather brought in Taz  376/3 and so rules Levush

[23] Shulchan Hatahor; Pela Yoetz “Taharah”; Moed Kol Chaiy 12 brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 243

[24] Yifei Laleiv brought in Kaf Hachaim 4/77; However see Gesher Hachaim 14/22 that the custom of Vayehi Noam only applies to those that return from the cemetery.

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