Are children to be educated to wash their hands after doing the actions that require washing by an adult

2. Are children to be educated to wash their hands after doing the actions that require washing by an adult?

*See our corresponding Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 5 for further details on this subject!

A. List of actions that require washing of the hands:[1]

The following actions require one to wash his hands one time after performing them:

  1. Arising from ones bed.
  2. Leaving the bathroom.
  3. Leaving the bathhouse.
  4. Cutting ones nails.
  5. Removing ones shoes with ones hands.
  6. Touching ones feet or [covered] parts of body with ones hands.
  7. Scratching ones head.
  8. Touching lice and checking for lice.
  9. Marital relations.
  10. Visiting a cemetery.
  11. Touching a corpse.
  12. Being in the same room as a corpse.
  13. Attending a funeral.
  14. Getting a haircut.[2]

B. The law by children:[3]

Children above Chinuch: Children that have reached the age of understanding are to be educated to wash their hands after the above actions are performed. The teachers [and parents] of the child are to take special care to ensure that the children do not learn Torah and say blessings after scratching their heads or touching the covered areas.[4] Nevertheless in order not to disturb the order of the class it suffices for the child to clean his hand on his desk and the like, and washing is not required at that moment.[5] 

Children below Chinuch: Children that are below the age of understanding [i.e. below Chinuch] are not obligated to have their hands washed after the above actions. See Chapter 3 Halacha 5 for further details on this matter.




Must one wash his hands after cutting another person’s nails, such as one’s children?[6]

No. One is only obligated to wash his hands after having his own nails cut.[7]



C. Must one wash his hands if he touched the uncovered area of a child?[8]

This depends on the area of the body of the child. Those areas that are normally always covered require washing hands. Thus if one changes the diaper of an infant one is to wash his hands after. However those areas that are commonly left uncovered, such as the legs of toddlers, do not require washing. However there are those that are stringent by all areas normally covered by an adult.


[1] Admur Kama 4:18; Michaber 4:18

[2] 4:19

[3] Ashel Avraham Butchach [Mahadurah Tinyana] 5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:18 footnote 184

[4] Kaf Hachaim [Falagi] 8:31

[5] Based on Teshuvah of Gaon of Ragatchav in Salmas Yosef 25.

[6] Ashel Avraham Butchach Mahadurah Tinyana 4:18; Kaf Hachaim 4:92

[7] So is also implied from Admur 4:18 “Cutting his nails” and not plainly “cutting nails”. Now although the person cutting the nails touches the cut nails in the process, nevertheless this does not require washing of the hands, as the nails are not considered dirty and do not reside a spirit of impurity on the hands of another. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[8] Oar Letziyon 2:44-6; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:23 for a list of rulings from today’s Poskim on this matter.

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