Sunday, January 26, 2014

Netilat Yadayim: Wet hands and dry hands


I was washing netilas yadayim for bread, and after one pour, my wet hand touched my dry hand. Do I need to start again?

The goal of washing netilas yadayim for bread is to remove a low level of ambient impurity from one's hands. After ascertaining that there is no dirt on one's hands, one pours a first round of water, which purifies her hands, but renders the water remaining on her hands impure. Then one pours a second round of water, which purifies the water on her hands. [Some pour a third round, for reasons beyond the scope of this paragraph.]

Because the first round of washing leaves the water on the wet hand impure, touching the wet hand to the dry hand renders the dry hand impure, and netilas yadayim cannot remove that impurity. Therefore, one should dry both hands, and then start washing again.

However: If the first pour on the wet hand contained at least four ounces of water, then one need not dry and re-start; that quantity of water does not become impure.

(Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 162:2, 4; Mishneh Berurah 162:18-21,32-37)

Have a great day,


  1. Good morning, Is there is a sound basis to washing 3 times on each hand as well as grasping the kli's wet handles with a towel? Michael Felder

  2. Three times - Yes; see the Shulchan Aruch I referred to in the post.

    Grasping the wet handles with a towel - If it is before the hand is washed, yes. There is a view that one's hands must be dry until they are ritually washed.