Thursday, September 10, 2009

Removing dirt from under one's fingernails


We have said that one may not wash for bread if he has dirt on the majority of his hand, or on the minority of his hand if it is the sort of material he would normally want to remove from his hand.

Therefore: One need not clean out the dirt from under his fingernails before washing ritually, unless:
a) It is the sort of dirt which people would ordinarily remove, or
b) It is the sort of dirt which he would personally wish to move (even if other people do not).

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 161:1; Mishneh Berurah 161:10)

Have a great day,


  1. Hi Mordechi,

    Thank you for creating and operating this Daily lesson. I don't think we covered this yet, but I wanted to know if we say the bracha Al Netilat Yadayim, immediately after we wash, or can we say it after we wipe our hands and step out of the bathroom? I know you don't want a delay in between the action and the bracha, but I also don't want to say the blessing in the bathroom.

    Shabbat Shalom, veh Shanah Tova!


  2. Hello Aitan,

    Thanks for your question; I haven't covered it yet.

    I would recommend that one avoid the situation by not washing in the bathroom at all; if a bathroom is the only source of water, one can still fill the cup in the bathroom and wash somewhere else.

    One who must wash in a bathroom should:
    a) Make sure the toilets are flushed, and
    b) Wash, then leave the bathroom and stand at least 7 feet away, preferably with the bathroom door closed, then make the berachah, then dry his hands.