- Question: [Shabbos 16th Tammuz 5781]
Am I allowed to put my glasses on and turn off my alarm clock prior to washing hands in the morning. I actually had a roommate in school who was very particular about this and would let his alarm go off for minutes until he finally got up and washed and then turned it off. Is it really necessary to be particular in this?
It is permitted even initially to put on your glasses and shut off your alarm clock prior to washing hands in the morning upon awakening. Although some are stringent in this matter, certainly one should not be stringent on the expense of someone else who is sleeping, and therefore they should turn off their alarm right away.
Explanation: The Talmud, Zohar, and Poskim record a list of things that are not allowed to be touched before washing hands in the morning. The law does not simply state “don’t touch anything” before washing hands, but rather records a specific list of items that may not be touched, such as clothing, orifices of the body, food and drink, etc. It is simply understood that anything not recorded in the list of restricted touching, is not restricted against, and therefore even initially it is permitted to put on one’s glasses or shut off an alarm clock before washing hands. Despite this, we do find some Poskim who are stringent in this matter and write based on Kabbalah that one should not touch any item prior to washing hands. [To note, that Admur makes no mention of this stringency in his Shulchan Aruch or Siddur, and it is likewise not mentioned in Sefer Haminhagim which simply writes our custom against touching clothing as writes Admur, and not anything further.] Certainly, if one desires to be stringent he may, but not on the expense of others, such as by causing others to wake up at the time of his alarm because he refuses to shut it off until he is ready after washing.
Sources: See regarding the restrictions prior to washing: Admur Basra 1:7; 4:2; Kama 1:7; 4:5-6; Siddur Hilchos Netilas Yadayim; Michaber 4:3; Gemara Shabbos 108b; Sefer Haminhagim p. 4 [English]; See the following Poskim who are stringent regarding touching anything: Seder Hayom states: Prior to touching one’s clothing or any matter and item he is to wash his hands; Divrei Yatziv 1:2 states this was the custom of his grandfather the Divrei Chaim of Tzanz; Zechor Leavraham [of Toldos Aron] it states that the Toldos Aron would not turn off his alarm or wear his glasses until he washed. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:5]