Walking before washing


The stringencies of the Zohar-Not to touch walk 4 cubits:[1]

According to the Talmud and Codifiers one may walk[2] prior to washing.[3] The only restriction according to the Talmud is not to touch food and drink [or orifices of the body]. The Zohar[4] however is very stringent in these matters stating that it is forbidden to touch ones clothing prior to washing. Likewise[5] [the Zohar[6] states] one may not walk [even[7]] four cubits[8] while the impure spirit resides on ones hands prior to the morning washing, [and one who does so is liable to death[9], as through residing this impurity on his hands he has desecrated G-d’s holiness which resides on him.[10] As a servant of G-d, which is sanctified with the sanctity of Hashem and His holy Torah, requires greater holiness and purity than the regular layman which is not holding on this level.[11]]


The following is the final ruling in this matter:

Walking four Amos:[12]

One is to be stringent like the Zohar and avoid walking four Amos prior to washing. [Four Amos is approximately 192 centimeters or 6 feet 4 inches.[13] Due to the above restriction against walking before washing, prior to going to sleep one is to prepare a basin of water near his bed to wash with upon awakening.]

[1] Basra 1/7; Kama 1/7; Siddur

[2] Kama 1/7: “According to Talmudic Law one is not required to wash as soon as he awakens and rather he is allowed to walk around in the interim until he washes.” In the Basra ibid and Siddur, Admur does not explicitly mention that walking is permitted according to the Talmud. Nevertheless it is evident from their ruling that it is only required according to the Zohar as opposed to the Talmud.

[3] This is despite the fact that one has the impure spirit reside on his hands prior to washing. [Basra ibid; Siddur]

[4] In Kama ibid Admur states “The Sages of the Zohar”

[5] Siddur and Basra ibid mention the stringencies of the Zohar in the above order. However Kama ibid first mentions this stringency of not walking four Amos and only after mentions that “likewise one is not to touch clothing”.

[6] This is brought down in many Poskim in the name of Tolaas Yaakov in name of the Zohar [see Beir Heiytiv 1/2; Kaf Hachaim 4/1]

[7] Kama ibid

[8] Each cubit is 6 Tefachim [Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 3; Shiureiy Torah p. 139] and each Tefach is 8 centimeters for a total of 48 centimeters per Ama. [Shiureiy Torah p. 249] Thus four Amos is a total of 192 centimeters or 6 feet 4 inches.

[9] Basra 1/7 as writes Tolaas Yaakov ibid in name of Zohar, mentioned in many Poskim. [see footnote in final ruling for list of Poskim] See Teshuva Miahava 1/14; 2/212 that this matter is not found in the printed Zohar, but is in a old manuscript of the Zohar.

[10] The Tolaas Yaakov writes “By doing so one brings a foreign G-d on his hands as the verse states “For that which he brought a god on his hands”. Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6 learns from here that it is tantamount to idol worship.

[11] Basra 1/7

[12] Sefer Haminhagim p. 4 [English]; Kama 1/7 concludes that every G-d fearing Jew should be stringent like the Zohar. In Basra and Siddur Admur does not give an explicit ruling in the dispute between the Zohar and Talmud, although it is clearly implied that they rule like the Zohar perhaps to an even greater degree than the Kama. [As in the Kama Admur limits the stringency to a G-d fearing Jew. However in the Basra and Siddur it is implied that all Jews are to follow the Zohar. Vetzaruch Iyun.]  For this reason we did not write above [like the Kama] that specifically “a G-d fearing Jew” should follow the Zohar” as perhaps this now applies to all people, and so plainly writes Sefer Haminhagim ibid.

Poskim which are stringent like Zohar: The following Poskim bring this prohibition of the Zohar: Tolaas Yaakov in name of the Zohar; Peri Eitz Chaim; Olas Tamid 17a; brought also in Bach; Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 4; Halacha Berurah 1; Birkeiy Yosef 1/1; Shalmei Tzibur 18a; Beis Oveid; Matzas Shmurim 3a; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 6; Beir Heiytiv 1/2; Shaareiy Teshuvah 1/2; Kaf Hachaim 4/1; M”B 1/2.

Other Opinions: The Elya Raba 1/4 brings in the name of Damesek Eliezer that the warning of the Tolaas Yaakov in name of Zohar against walking prior to washing only applied back then and today it is seemingly no longer accustomed. The Birkeiy Yosef ibid negates their words. [Kaf Hachaim 4/1] Shvus Yaakov 1/8 rules the custom is not to be careful in not walking four Amos being people consider the entire house as four Amos. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 1/2] See Teshuva Miahava 1/14; 2/212.

Tradition from GR”A: Some quote a tradition from the Gr”a that the spirit of impurity has been weakened in the latter generations and hence there is no need to be careful to avoid walking 4 Amos. [See Isheiy Yisrael 2 footnote 17 in name of Rav SZ”A] They account this diminishing of impurity based on a certain martyr [Avraham the Ger or Count Potatzky] that was publicly burnt at the stake. Nevertheless even amongst the Rabbinical descendents of the Gr”a there are those that dismiss this tradition and write one must be stringent in the matter. This story also clearly contradicts the story with the Gra that is recorded in Maaseh Rav 25 and hence cannot be relied upon even amongst his followers.

[13] Each cubit is 6 Tefachim [Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 3; Shiureiy Torah p. 139] and each Tefach is 8 centimeters for a total of 48 centimeters per Ama. [Shiureiy Torah p. 249] Thus four Amos is a total of 192 centimeters or 6 feet 4 inches. It is however proper to be stringent to consider the Ama 47 centimeters and hence the total length of four Amos is 188 centimeters. [Shiureiy Torah p. 250]



To purchase this Sefer

click here



About The Author

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.