Walking four Amos prior to washing hands in the morning:
The ruling according to the Talmud: According to the Talmud and Codifiers it is permitted for one to walk prior to washing hands in the morning upon awaking. The only restriction according to the Talmud is not to touch food and drink [or orifices of the body].
The ruling according to the Zohar: However, the Zohar states one may not walk [even] four cubits while the impure spirit resides on ones hands prior to the morning washing, and one who does so is liable to death, as through residing this impurity on his hands he has desecrated G-d’s holiness which resides on him. 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.
The final ruling: 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. Practically one is to refrain from placing his feet on the ground until after he washes hands, as will be explained in the Q&A. 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. See Halacha 7 regarding what to do if there is no water available. See Chapter 4 Halacha 5 for further details on this subject.]
One is to be stringent like the Zohar and avoid walking four Amos prior to washing hands in the morning upon awakening.
Q&A on walking four Amos
May one sit up on his bed prior to washing hands?
Some avoid sitting up on the bed prior to washing hands.
May one place his feet on the ground prior to washing?
One is to beware from placing his feet on the ground prior to washing hands. Likewise one is to beware from standing, even on his bed, prior to washing.
If one woke up in middle of the night and is planning to instantly return back to sleep must he wash prior to walking?
Example: One woke up in middle of the night and needs to use the bathroom, must he wash beforehand?
One is to wash his hands beforehand. However some Poskim rule there is no need to wash prior to doing so being he plans to return back to sleep. Practically some 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.
If one washed and plans on going back to sleep, should he discard the water prior to doing so?
When one washes his hands in middle of the night, even though he plans to return to sleep, he is to discard the water.
In the above case must one prepare Negel Vasser again for the next time he wakes up?
Yes. When one washes his hands in middle of the night, and he plans to return to sleep, he is to prepare new water for the morning.
What is one to do if he is sleeping on a bunk bed?
He may descend from the bunk bed and wash his hands within four Amos from the bed. [Although if possible it is best to have someone bring him the water.]
May one walk within the same room without washing his hands?
No. However, some Poskim allow doing so. Some Poskim rule one may rely on this opinion in a case of need. According to all one may not walk outside of the room before washing.
What should one do if he does not have water within his four Amos?
If one is unable to ask someone to bring him the water then the following is the ruling: Some Poskim rule one should run to the water in order to hasten the removal of the impurity. Others rule one should walk in a way that he stops every four Amos [6 feet 4 inches] until he reaches the water. Practically one is to follow this latter ruling. However if this will cause one to miss saying Shema on time, then obviously he should run to the water.
What is one to do if he is sleeping on a bus or car?
One is to walk less than four Amos at a time until he reaches the water, as mentioned in the previous ruling.
What is one to do if he is sleeping on a plane?
One is to walk less than four Amos at a time until he reaches the water, as mentioned in the previous ruling.
 Admur Basra 1:7; Kama 1:7; Siddur
 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.
 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]
 Kama ibid
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Basra 1:7
 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 who are stringent like Zohar: The following Poskim record the 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.
 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]
 Darkei Chaim Veshalom 1
 To not however from Basra 1:6 that one is to say Modeh Ani while sitting or lying.
 Mishmeres Shalom 1:2 in name of Igara Diparka 9 which writes this custom in the name of Rav Zusha of Anipoli; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 1; Mentioned also in Shulchan Hatahor 1:2; Ashel Avraham Butchach 4 “Behanal Odos”: “I found in Sefarim that one is to wash hands prior to getting out of bed”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1:7
 Mishmeres Shalom mentions this as a custom of Tzaddikim. Practically today this custom is followed by many and so is written in Igara Diparka in name of Rav Zusha as a general warning for the public.
 Placing the feet on the ground prior to washing can cause one to have a bad day in terms of that his animal soul will persecute him and try to seduce him to sin. This is hinted to in the verse “Yisyatzeiv Al Derech Lo Tov” [He stands on a bad road] and will thus not despise evil. [Rav Zusha ibid] These words which were said with Ruach Hakodesh do not need any support. Nevertheless as a possible reason for the severity one can explain it is because placing one’s feet on the ground and standing allows the evil spirit to “stand” and become grounded and hence the evil inclination receives extra power. [Igara Diparka ibid brought in Mishmeres Shalom ibid]
 Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1:6
 Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1:3; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 3; Toras Yekusiel 1:1; Kaf Hachaim 4:4 in name of Zechor Leavraham “Regarding this prohibition of walking four Amos it makes no difference whether one awakens in middle of the night and desires to return to sleep or is awaking in the morning.”
 Ashel Avraham Butchach 4 “Behanal Odos”: “I heard from my father in law 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.”
 Mishmeres Shalom ibid questions this ruling and concludes as above that one may only be lenient in a time of need; So rules also Shraga Hameir 3:103; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1:6 footnote 41; However based on Kaf Hachaim 4:4 it would be forbidden just like one who awoke in the morning. To note that even the Ashel Avraham ibid concludes that “one who adds in holiness and purity certainly is blessed”.
Reason to be lenient: The Mishmeres Shalom ibid questions the ruling of the Ashel Avraham as what difference does it make whether he desires to return to sleep. Vetzaruch Iyun as the entire reason for not allowing walking before washing is because one defiles the service of Hashem by delaying the removal of the evil spirit. [Basra 1:7] If however one plans to returns to sleep right away then he is not yet ready to serve Hashem and hence delaying the removal of the evil spirit is just like one who continues sleeping without awaking in which he did no wrong by allowing the evil spirit remain on his hands throughout the night.
 Shulchan Hatahor 4:1; Zohar Chaiy Vayeishev brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 1:6: “Leaving the water there is a Sakana and can lead to Keri”.
 As the spirit of impurity will once again reside on his hands upon him returning to sleep before Alos. If however it is already past Alos and one plans to return to sleep then there is no need to prepare new water just like is the law regarding one who sleeps during the day.
 Chelkas Yaakov 3:152
 Shvus Yaakov 3:8 in name of Rashba rules the custom is not to be careful against walking four Amos being people consider the entire house as four Amos. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 1:2] Thus according to this opinion one may walk around the room before washing; See regaridng a single room being considered four Amos: Shach 344:11 in name of Mordechai end of Moed Katan; Beir Hagoleh in name of Mordechai; Beir Heiytiv 344:8; Elya Raba 1:4; M”B 45:2 in name of Ateres Zekeinim; This opinion is omitted from Admur ibid
 Shaareiy Teshuvah 1:2; M”B 1:2
 As only the room is considered like four Amos according to the lenient opinion and not the entire house. [Peri Megadim 4 A.A. 1; Ashel Avraham 4; Beis Baruch 2:2; See however Daas Torah 1]
 Kaf Hachaim 4:2
 Shaareiy Teshuvah 1:2; M”B 1:2; Beis Oveid 3; Seemingly however the Shaareiy Teshuvah later retracted this ruling as in his Sefer Mateh Efraim 619:27 in which he rules that one is to walk less than four Amos at a time.[Ketzos Hashulchan 1 supplements page 82]
 Birkeiy Yosef 1 as he received from elder Rabbis, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 1:2; Morah Baetzba; Kesher Gudal 1:4; Shalmei Tzibur 18; Zechor Liavraham 3; Ruach Chaim 1; Pesech Dvir 1:1; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 7; Ketzos Hashulchan 2:1; Mateh Efraim 619:27; Artzos Hachaim 4:3; Misgeres Hashulchan 2; Toras Yekusiel 1; Miasef Lechol Hamachanos 1:9; Bikurei Shlomo [brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 1 supplement p. 82]
 It suffices to stand. However some Poskim [Ruach Chaim ibid] rule one is to actually stop and sit. [Kaf Hachaim 4:2]
 Ketzos Hashulchan 2:1 as regarding spiritual matters one may not divert from the Kabala. [ibid footnote 6]; Kaf Hachaim 4:2; Even the Shaareiy Teshuvah later retracted this ruling as in his Sefer Mateh Efraim 619:27 he rules that one is to walk less than four Amos at a time.[Ketzos Hashulchan 1 supplements page 82] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 1:7 who rules that within the same room one is to run to the water. Vetzaruch Iyun as the above Poskim do not differentiate and as concludes the Ketzos Hashulchan “we do not move from the words of the Kabalists”.
 Ketzos Hashulchan 2 footnote 6
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 1 footnote 53; Miasef Lichol Hamachanos 1:7 says one is to stop the car before continuing to drive another four Amos!
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 1 footnote 53
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