Halachic rulings and customs of the Rebbe Rashab

Halachic rulings and customs of the Rebbe Rashab:

The Rebbe Rashab was greatly G-d-fearing, and had many stringencies and Hiddurim which he kept in Jewish law, many of which have become classic Chabad custom and practice. The following is a partial list:

A. Learning Halacha:[1]

The Rebbe Rashab writes that every Chassid is obligated to learn the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim from beginning to end and that every person is to establish a daily learning session to learn and review these Halachos.

B. Being careful to follow Halacha:[2]

The Rebbe Rashab writes that in today’s generations one must especially have Mesirus Nefesh not to swerve from even one letter of Shulchan Aruch.


Rulings relating to morning conduct

*For the full details of the below matters, other opinions and the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch and final Chabad practice, refer to our corresponding Sefer “Awaking like a Jew”

C. Netilas Yadayim:

  1. Children: The Rebbe Rashab[3] wrote that one is to be careful to begin washing a child’s hand in the morning starting from when the child is no longer in diapers.
  2. Towel: The Rebbe Rashab was particular to use a towel for washing for bread.[4] Originally, washing for bread with a towel was a custom not practiced by all Chassidim and the Rebbe Rashab actually sanctioned someone who took upon themselves this custom if they were not on the proper level.[5] Nevertheless, this custom regarding washing for bread with a towel eventually became widespread amongst all Chassidim, irrelevant of their spiritual level, and is hence to be followed by all.[6]
  3. Drying hands by morning washing:[7] The custom of the Rebbe Rashab was to dry his hands prior to reciting the blessing over the morning washing. This was different than his custom regarding washing for bread in which case he dried the hands only after the blessing.
  4. Lifting the hands:[8] The custom of the Rebbe Rashab was to lift his hands separately to his Peiyos while reciting the blessing over the morning washing. This was different than his custom regarding washing for bread, in which case he lifted his hands to his heart, not higher, and held them together, not separately.
  5. Washing hands after bathroom:[9] When the Rebbe Rashab fell ill he would wash his hands three times inconsecutively after a bowel movement and one time after urinating.
  6. Washing hands after visiting cemetery:[10] The Rebbe Rashab would not wash hands after visiting the gravesite of his father the Rebbe Maharash. The reason for this is because although even the grave of a Tzaddik gives off impurity it nevertheless is a holy place and does not give off the evil spirit, and the entire purpose of washing the hands is to remove the evil spirit.


D. Tzitzis and Dress:[11]

The original custom in Tomchei Temimim of Lubavitch was to wear the Tzitzis on top of the clothing. However, the Rebbe Rashab negated this practice. The Rebbe Rashab instructed the students of Tomchei Temimim to not wear their Tzitzis on top of their clothing, but rather under it, as it looked very sloppy in his eyes.[12]


E. Wearing a Gartel while reciting the morning blessings:[13]

The custom of the Rebbe Rashab was to recite the morning blessings without a Gartel.

F. Sleeping without socks:[14]

The Rebbe Rashab once gave someone instructions to sleep without socks, as a Tikkun for nocturnal emission.


[1] Kuntrus Hatefilah 17

[2] Sefer Hamamarim “Ein Hakadosh Baruch Hu Ba Betrunya” 1888

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

[4] Likkutei Dibburim 1 p. 142; 4 p. 1346-1350

[5] Likkutei Dibburim ibid; Sefer Hasichos 1940 p. 82-83; 1944 p. 117; See Ishkavta Dirrebe p. 63

[6] Sefer Haminhagim p. 43 English; Sichas 14th Kisleiv 1954 (Toras Menachem 10 p. 197); Hisvadyos 1983 Vol. 1 p. 584; Sefer Hasichos 1936 p. 98

[7] Likkutei Dibburim Likut 23 p. 633

[8] Likkutei Dibburim Likut 23 p. 633

[9] See Ishkavta Dirrebbe p. 16

[10] Ishkavta Dirrebe p. 106

[11] Related by Rav Eli Landa Shlita

[12] The following was related by Rav Eliyahu Landa Shlita, Rosh Hayeshiva of Tomchei Temimim Kfar Chabad [Free translation]: “The following story occurred in the city of Lubavitch. The Bochurim in Tomchei Temimim would wear their Tzitzis on top of their shirts [similar to the custom today of other Chassidic groups]. One day, the Rebbe Rashab told his son the Rebbe Rayatz, who was the official director of the Yeshiva, that upon looking out the window he saw the Bochurim Shleping their Tzitzis which was flying in all directions, and he does not like this at all. The Rebbe Rashab then said that the Bochurim should do one of the two; either to wear a long coat to cover the Tzitzis, or to tuck the Tallis Katan under their shirt. The Bochurim understood that the Rebbe Rashab preferred the first option and hence from that day and onwards the Bochurim in Lubavitch wore long coats.”

[13] Toras Menachem Vol 5 pages 83-85

The Rebbe states there, in the name of the previous Rebbe, that the Rebbe Rashab was not accustomed to wear a Gartel for the morning blessings, and was accustomed to say the blessings looking out a window. The Rebbe explains the reason for this is because a Gartel is meant as a preparation for prayer, and since the morning blessings are to be said immediately upon awakening, we see that one does not need any preparation before saying them, other than washing hands. This is similar to that a Jews Modeh Ani also does not require preparation. This shows how even when a Jew is still in an unprepared state he still has the ability to bless G-d. The Rebbe then says that this was publicized by the Rebbe Rashab in order so every Jew learn from it that he has the ability to break the barriers and attach to G-d even if he is found in a low state. This is also the inner meaning behind saying the blessings looking out a window, as looking represents a certain level of attachment to G-d, as explained in the teachings of Chassidus.

[14] Otzer Minhagei Chabad Yom Kippur 176

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