Children Morning washing-Neigal Vaaser

1. Morning washing-Neigal Vaaser:

*See our corresponding Sefer “Awaking like a Jew” Chapter 3-4 for further details on this subject!

A. Do children need to wash their hands in the morning?[1]

It is accustomed not to be careful to wash the hands of children upon awakening, until they reach the age of Chinuch.[2] [However once the child has reached the age of Chinuch one must be careful to educate them to wash hands after awakening in the morning.[3]] (Furthermore one who is careful to wash their hands from the day of the child’s circumcision and onwards is doing an act of holiness[4].)[5] [Practically, the Poskim[6] rule that one is to beware to wash a child’s hands in the morning. This applies even if the child is of a very young age such as a nursing baby.[7] Doing so is a good Segula that one’s children grow up with purity and holiness.[8] The Rebbe Rashab[9] wrote that one is to be careful to begin washing a child’s hand starting from when the child is no longer in diapers. The Rebbe[10] stated that one is to be careful in washing hands starting at the very least from age three.]  

 

Summary:

Until the child reaches the age of education there is no obligation to wash the child’s hands, although one who does so starting from the day of the Bris, is doing a holy act. Once the child has reached the age of Chinuch he must wash his hands. [The Rebbe Rashab wrote one is to be careful to wash the hands of the child starting from when the child is out of diapers. The Rebbe stated that one is to be careful in this starting at the very least from age three.]

Q&A

What is the age of Chinuch regarding the obligation to wash hands?[11]

As already stated, it is best to wash the hands of children even before they reach the age of Chinuch. Once the child has reached the age of Chinuch he must be educated to wash hands in the morning.[12] The age of Chinuch in this regard is from when the child begins to understand the concept of washing hands to remove impurity. Every child is different in this regard.

Should girls have their hands washed prior to the age of Chinuch just like was said by boys?[13]

Seemingly, it is proper to begin washing the hands of girls from the time the name is given. There is room to learn that it is proper to begin washing their hands even beforehand, starting from the day of birth.

 

 

Sparks of Kabala

Washing the hands of one’s children even of nursing age is a Segula that they grow up with purity and holiness.[14]

 

B. Must children be careful in the pre-washing restrictions prior to washing:[15]

Until the age of Chinuch[16] children do not have to be careful to follow the pre-washing restrictions. [The age of Chinuch in this regard is seemingly from the time they need to begin washing, as explained above.[17]] Nevertheless, one who is careful to avoid letting them touch food until they wash is doing an act of holiness, as explained next.

The restrictions: The following are the washing restrictions that apply prior to washing, once the child reaches the age of Chinuch:

  1. One may not touch the orifices of the body to be listed below.
  2. One may not touch food or drink. [see next]
  3. One may not touch the washing water that is in the basin.
  4. One may not say any of Hashem’s names, or recite words of Torah. One may however think words of Torah prior to washing. Although one should not speak or even think words of Torah while still lying in his bed, even if he has already washed.
  5. One may not touch clothing.
  6. One may not walk 4 cubits [6 feet 4 inches].

Touching food and drink prior to washing:[18] It is accustomed to be lenient regarding food that is touched by children after they awaken, prior to washing hands, if the child is below the age of Chinuch.[19]  [However once the child has reached the age of Chinuch one must beware from allowing him or her to touch food or drink prior to washing hands after awakening.[20]] (Furthermore one who is careful to beware from allowing a child to touch foods from the day of his circumcision and onwards is doing an act of holiness.)[21] [Seemingly by girls, one is to be careful in this matter from the day that they are named and onwards.[22]]

Touching their bodily holes?[23] Until the age of Chinuch children do not have to be careful to avoid touching their bodily orifices.

  • Advice for child above Chinuch who sucks his thumb:[24] Explain to the child the importance of weaning off the sucking and place a sock over his hand, or band aid over his finger, before he goes to sleep. It will only take a few days to break the habit.

C. Covering the Negel Vasser water:[25]

Many Poskim[26] rule that there is no need to be stringent against washing hands with water that was left uncovered overnight. This applies even in an area where snakes are commonly found.[27] However, there are Poskim[28] who are stringent and rule that one is to avoid washing with waters left uncovered. [A simple way of achieving this is by turning the basin over and placing it on top of the Neigal Vaaser cup.] Practically, the custom is to be completely lenient even regarding drinking waters that were left uncovered, and certainly regarding using it for washing[29], and so is the apparent Chabad custom.[30] There is likewise no problem to wash hands for bread using revealed waters even in areas that snakes are common.[31]

Children: There is no extra stringency relevant to covering the Neigal Vaaser water of children at night, other than simply to prevent it from spilling, as commonly occurs with kids. Special Neigal Vaaser cups with covers for kids are manufactured for this purpose.

May a woman nurse her child prior to washing?[32]

Yes. She may pick up her child and nurse him prior to washing although she may not place her finger in any of the child’s orifices such as the child’s mouth.

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[1] Based on Basra 4:2 regarding children touching food as seemingly the intent of Admur there is with regards to washing their hands and not simply to not let them touch food. So also understands Kaf Hachaim 4:22.

[2] Basra 4:2; So brings also P”M 4 M”Z 7 that the world is not accustomed to be careful to wash the hands of children. He however does not differentiate between whether the child has reached the age of Chinuch or not.

The reason for the leniency: As the G-dly soul only completely and mainly enters into a person when he reaches the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah, and it is for this reason that when they reach this age they become Biblically obligated to keep the commands, and are punished for transgression. Now the beginning of the entrance of the G-dly soul into a child’s body is from the age that the Sages obligated the child to be educated in Torah and Mitzvos. [Basra ibid; Thus before the age of Chinuch, since the G-dly soul has not even begun to enter their body, this impurity does not desire to seek nurture in their bodies upon them sleeping].

[3] See previous footnote

[4] lit. “Kadosh Yomar Lo”

[5] Parentheses in original

Reason: As in truth the G-dly soul begins to enter into the child’s body from the day of his Bris Milah. [ibid; Thus the evil spirit has reason to reside in his body when sleeping starting from after the Milah.]

[6] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 10; Kaf Hachaim 4:22; P”M 4 M”Z 7: “It is proper to wash their hands every morning as Sakana is more severe than even prohibitions”. Chida in Moreh Baetzba 2:60: “It is proper to wash the hands of the small children properly in order to prevent them from placing impurity on all the items they touch.”

[7] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 10

[8] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 10 in name of Chesed Lialafim 13; Kaf Hachaim 4:22

[9] The will of the Rebbe Rashab to the general public printed in Ishkavta Direbbe p. 136

[10] Toras Menachem 7 [1953]  p. 194

[11] 343:3

[12] It is a Rabbinical command for a father to educate his son and daughter in both negative and positive commands, beginning from when the child reaches the age of education. [ibid]

[13] Based on Likkutei Sichos 14 p. 250; Toras Menachem 5750 Vol. 3 p. 364; See Shulchan Menachem 5 p. 158-159 [Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 3 p. 297] Darkei Chaim Veshalom 219

Background:

Admur in Basra 4:2 states that it is proper to begin washing the hands of a child from the time of his Bris being that at that time the

G-dly soul begins to enter. No mention is made regarding when the G-dly soul begins to enter a girl and consequently from when it is proper to begin washing the hands of a girl. Chazal state [Avoda Zara 27a] that a girl is considered already circumcised. The intent of this is that the moment a girl is born she is already considered circumcised. [Likkutei Sichos ibid; Igros Kodesh 22 p. 260] Thus the

G-dly soul begins to enter a girl as soon as she is born, just as we say regarding a boy on the day of his Bris. Nevertheless perhaps the actual entrance is when she is given a name. [Likkutei Sichos ibid] The reason for this is because the letters of a name is what connects the soul to the body. [Toras Menachem ibid] It is for this reason that we are particular to name a girl at the first opportunity, at the first available Kerias Hatorah, and do not delay it at all as is the custom of others, as who has the right to delay the soul from entering. [Shulchan Menachem ibid; Darkei Chaim Veshalom ibid] From the above it is implied that just like by a boy one begins to wash his hands starting from the day of the Bris, so too by a girl one is to begin washing the hands from the day her name is given, and perhaps even beforehand starting from the day she is born.

[14] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 10 in name of Chesed Lialafim.

[15] Ashel Avraham Butchach 4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:8; See also Admur Basra 4:2; Divrei Yatziv 1:1; Tzitz Eliezer 21:20; Mishneh Halachos 7:1

[16] See Ashel Avraham ibid that possibly until the age of Bar Mitzvah one does not have to be careful in the above.

[17] Vetzaruch Iyun as the age of education differs between positive and negative commands. Washing the hands is considered a positive command while not touching orifices is like a negative command.

[18] Admur Basra 4:2; Mishmeres Shalom 1:4; Keren Ledavid 1:1; Halichos Shlomo 20:25; Tzitz Eliezer 7:2

[19] As the G-dly soul only completely and mainly enters into a person when he reaches the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah, and it is for this reason that when they reach this age they become Biblically obligated to keep the commands, and are punished for transgression. Now the beginning of the entrance of the G-dly soul into a child’s body is from the age that the Sages obligated the child to be educated in Torah and Mitzvos. [ibid; Thus before the age of Chinuch since the G-dly soul has not even begun to enter this impurity does not desire to seek nurture in their bodies upon them sleeping].

[20] See previous footnote

[21] Parentheses in original

Reason: As in truth the G-dly soul begins to enter into the child’s body from the day of his Bris Milah. [ibid; Thus the evil spirit has reason to reside in his body when sleeping starting from after the Milah.]

[22] Based on Likkutei Sichos 14 p. 250; Toras Menachem 5750 Vol. 3 p. 364; See Shulchan Menachem 5 p. 158-159 [Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 3 p. 297] Darkei Chaim Veshalom 219

[23] Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:8; See also Admur Basra 4:2; Divrei Yatziv 1:1; Tzitz Eliezer 21:20; Mishneh Halachos 7:1; See Ashel Avraham 4 that possibly until the age of Bar Mitzvah one does not have to be careful in the above.

[24] Based on Ashel Avraham ibid one may be lenient to allow even children above Chinuch to suck their thumb during sleep. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 105] Nevertheless, as explained in the previous Q&A, it is best to try to wean the child off unless it is a case of need.

[25] See Hakashrus p. 432; Piskeiy Teshuvos 4:12

[26] Shalmei Tzibur brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 4:7; Pischeiy Teshuvah Yoreh Deah 116:1; Peri Toar Yoreh Deah 116:2; Birkeiy Yosef  116:4; So is also implied from M”B 160:23; Admur 272:1 rules we are no longer careful regarding revealed waters as snakes are no longer commonly found.

[27] Shalmei Tzibur ibid; See however Poskim in next footnote that one is to be stringent in those areas that snakes are common.

The reason: As the prohibition relating to waters left uncovered in areas that snakes are commonly found, is only in regards to drinking the liquid and not to using it for washing. [Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid; M”B 160:23]

[28] Rav Sheptal brought in Shaareiy Teshuva ibid; Seder Hayom: “Every G-d fearing Jew needs to prepare for himself prior to going to sleep two vessels, one that contains water and one that is empty, into which he will pour the water upon awakening. One is to place the water filled vessel into the empty vessel, covered and clean.”; Chesed Lealafim 4:10; Kaf Hachaim Falagi 8:11; Kaf Hachaim 116:8 and Artzos Hachaim 4:1 that one is to be stringent in those areas that snakes are commonly found. [brought in Hakashrus 18:19]

[29] Conclusion of Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid

[30] See Migdal Oz story 114 from which it is evident that it was not widely practiced amongst Chabad Chassidim to cover the Neigal Vaaser water at night prior to going to sleep. This is understood from the fact the apprentice of the Tzemach Tzedek could not understand why he covered the water, as well as from the fact that one Chassid complained to the Rebbe Rashab about the stringencies of another Chassid who followed this stringency of covering the water. Nevertheless, as is evident from the story, this was the custom of the Tzemach Tzedek, and of certain scrupulous Chassidim. However, from the response of the Tzemach Tzedek it can be understood that this custom is not meant as a directive for the public. Vetzaruch Iyun

[31]  Levush 160:5; Aruch Hashulchan 160:1; M”B 160:23 [It is implied from there that he rules even regarding washing hands upon awakening there is no need to be stringent]; See however Kaf Hachaim 116:8 that one is to be stringent in those areas that snakes are common.

[32] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 4 footnote 105

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