Touching body before washing 2

May one itch himself in middle of one’s sleep if he has an itch in the above mentioned areas?[1]

If one has an itch in one of the above mentioned areas of his body then he is to scratch it using a cloth[2] and may not do so using his fingers.[3] However some Poskim[4] rule there is no need to use a cloth or wash prior to doing so since one plans to return back to sleep. Practically some[5] rule that in a case of great need one may rely on their opinion. According to all if one woke up past Alos he must wash his hands prior to doing any of the above even if he plans to return to sleep.


May one touch parts of his body that is not listed above?[6]

Yes. It is permitted for one to touch all areas that were not listed above in Shulchan Aruch. Thus one may scratch his arm, leg, stomach, and back prior to washing.


Must children be careful not to touch their bodily holes?[7]

Until the age of Chinuch, children do not have to be careful to avoid doing so.

Advice for child above Chinuch who sucks his thumb:[8] Explain to him the importance of weaning off the sucking and place a sock over his hand, or band aid over his finger, before he goes to sleep. It will only take a few days to break the habit.


May one shake someone’s hand if that person did not wash his hands upon awakening?

Yes. However there are Poskim which are stringent.


May a woman nurse her child prior to washing?[9]

Yes. She may pick up her child and nurse him prior to washing although she may not place her finger in any of the child’s orifices such as the child’s mouth.


Sparks of Kabala:

The reason why the water has ability to remove the impurity from the hands is because water is Chesed [kindness] while the impurity is Gevuros [severities]. The Chasadim of water thus come and nullify the Gevuros.[10]

[1] See Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1/3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6

[2] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 15; Kaf Hachaim 4/18

[3] Kaf Hachaim 4/4 in name of Zechor Leavraham “It makes no difference whether one awakens in middle of the night and desires to return to sleep or is awakening in the morning.”

[4] Ashel Avraham Butchach 4 “Behanal Odos”: “I heard from my father in law [the Neta Shashuim] that the stringency of the Zohar not to walk four Amos prior to washing is only when one awakens in the morning without intent to return to sleep. This is opposed to one who temporarily gets up in middle of the night to use the bathroom and then immediately returns to sleep, in which case one may be lenient to walk to the bathroom without washing hands beforehand. This is a great justification for those that are lenient in this. The same applies regarding the prohibition of touching the orifices that this only applies when one awakens with intent to not return to sleep. This is also understood from the fact it is common for people to turn over during the night and subconsciously itch himself in these areas.” To note that even the Ashel Avraham ibid concludes that it is proper to be stringent. In his words: “One who adds in purity and cleanliness certainly is blessed.”

[5] The Mishmeres Shalom ibid questions this ruling and concludes as above that one may be lenient in a time of need; So rules also Rav SZ”A brought in Halichos Shlomo 13/16; However based on Kaf Hachaim 4/4 it would be forbidden just like one who awoke in the morning.

[6] Admur in Siddur writes that if one slept a temporary sleep of 60 breaths he is to wash with a blessing, although prior to doing so he is to touch the normally covered areas of the body. See Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 21 and Chapter 4 Halacha 17.

[7] Piskeiy Teshuvos 4/8; See also Admur Basra 4/2; Divrei Yatziv 1/1; Tzitz Eliezer 21/20; Mishneh Halachos 7/1; See Ashel Avraham 4 that possibly until the age of Bar Mitzvah one does not have to be careful in the above.

[8] Based on Ashel Avraham ibid one may be lenient to allow even children above Chinuch to suck their thumb during sleep. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 105] Nevertheless, as explained in the previous Q&A, it is best to try to wean the child off unless it is a case of need.

[9] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 105

[10] Kaf Hachaim 4/12

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