1 678
 Hilchos Tefilla 92 (page 251)
 מסעיף ד עד סעיף ח

Cleaning Hands for Tefilla
Cleaning Hands Without Water
Washing Hands for Mussaf

Cleaning hands for tefilla
Someone who touched the covered parts of his body cannot recite divrei kedusha until he cleans his hands. Thinking Torah thoughts with soiled hands is permissible, however. The poskim discuss whether contact with ear wax or nasal mucus is treated as contact with covered parts. According to some poskim, the inner parts of the ear and nose are undoubtedly treated like covered parts, and the hands must be cleaned if one wishes to recite divrei kedusha after contact with these areas. What type of cleansing is needed? After touching covered parts of the body, washing is required for Shemoneh Esrei and is preferred for berachos and Torah study. B'dieved, wiping (e.g. with a cloth or on the wall) is adequate for berachos and Torah. For regular dirt, some poskim hold that water is required for Shemoneh Esrei while others indicate that it is not necessary. Some type of cleansing is preferred for Torah and berachos, but it is not mandatory.
( סעיף ו-ז, ס"ק כו, כט ו־ל, וביה"ל ד"ה והסיח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 28, 32, 33, 34 ו־35)
Cleaning hands without water
If, in the middle of pesukei d'zimra or birchos kriyas Shema, a person realizes that he did not wash his hands before davening or that he touched a covered area, he should stop davening and clean his hands. If water is not available in the immediate area, he must go as far as a mil (an ancient measure of distance) to get water if he knows of a place where it can be found. One who is traveling and realizes that his hands must be cleaned is required to continue traveling up to four mil (in the direction that he is going) to get water, if he knows of a place within this distance ahead. If his quest for water will cause him to miss the zman for Shema or tefilla or tefilla b'tzibur, he may wipe his hands (as described in the previous paragraph). If someone realizes that his hands are not clean in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei, wiping them is sufficient.
( סעיף ד-ו, ס"ק טו, יז, יח, כ ו־כא, וביה"ל ד"ה אבל)
Washing hands for Mussaf
Chazal mandated that a person should wash his hands before reciting Shemoneh Esrei, even if he is unaware that they are soiled.  According to some poskim, this holds true for kriyas Shema as well. These washings do not require a beracha, and the hands do not need to be dried afterwards. Someone who washed for a seuda or for mayim acharonim without having davening in mind must wash again for tefilla. However, someone who washes upon arising in the morning or for a meal and has tefilla in mind when he does so does not need to wash a second time (unless he takes his mind off keeping his hands clean from the time they are washed until he begins the tefilla).  Someone who washed for one tefilla and remained in shul for a subsequent tefilla does not need to wash again for the second tefilla.  The same is true for someone who washed for some other reason before one tefilla but remained focused on having his hands clean for tefilla:  he does not need to wash for a subsequent tefilla. For example, someone who washed for Shacharis does not need to wash again for Mussaf.  Likewise, someone who washed for Mincha does not need to wash for Ma'ariv. Someone who washed for Torah study must wash separately for davening. Someone who washed for davening and learned a little before the tefilla does not have to wash again.
( סעיף ד ו־ה, וס"ק יד, כג, כד ו־כה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 23, 24, 25 ו־29)

  • It is forbidden for someone to hold himself back from using the bathroom when he has an urgent need. There is no prohibition to hold back if the need isn't urgent.
  • According to some poskim, someone who has a strong need to use the bathroom while davening Shemoneh Esrei should stop in the middle and go to the bathroom, even if he feels that he can wait until completing the tefilla. Other poskim hold that the person can choose whether he wants to interrupt or complete his tefilla. A third opinion holds that he should not interrupt his tefilla.
  • Someone who feels an urge to use the bathroom during pesukei d'zimra (in a way that he is not in violation of bal tishaktzu) may wait until after Yishtabach before going to the bathroom, but he may not continue holding back in order to answer barchu or begin birchos kriyas Shema.


  • The benefit of being the last to leave davening

  • Staying focused on davening

  • Giving tzedaka or lending money to the poor before davening





PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.