Touching clothing before washing


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The stringencies of the Zohar-Not to touch one’s clothing:[1]

According to the Talmud and Codifiers one may touch his clothing prior to washing.[2] The only restriction according to the Talmud is not to touch food and drink [or orifices of the body]. The Zohar[3]however is very stringent in these matters stating that it is forbidden to touch ones clothing[4] prior to washing.


The following is the final ruling in this matter:

Touching clothing:[5]

One is to be stringent like the Zohar and avoid touching clothing prior to washing. [Thus one may not even put on his socks prior to washing.[6] See Halacha 7 regarding what to do if there is no water available.]


Q&A on touching clothing

May one touch items other than his clothes prior to washing, such as his glasses or alarm clock?

It is permitted for one to touch all items that were not listed above in the Shulchan Aruch. Thus one may turn off his alarm clock or put on his glasses prior to washing. However there are Poskim[7] which rule one is not to touch any item prior to washing and hence according to them one is to wash before touching his alarm clock or glasses.


May one place his Yarmulke on him prior to washing?[8]



May one put on clothing for modesty purposes prior to washing?[9]



May one touch clothing without washing hands if he awakens in middle of sleep and intends to return to sleep right away?[10]

This matter is subject to the same discussion mentioned regarding walking four Amos and itching oneself in middle of sleep-See there![11]


[1] Basra 1/7; Kama 1/7; Siddur

[2] This is despite the fact that one has the impure spirit reside on his hands prior to washing. [Basra ibid; Siddur]

[3] In Kama ibid Admur states “The Sages of the Zohar”

[4] Kama 1/7; Basra 1/7; Siddur ibid; Brought in: Seder Hayom; Peri Eitz Chaim; Beir Heiytiv 4/1; Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 6; Olas Tamid p. 17a; Tzvaas Rebbe Eliezer Hagadol; Sheivet Mussar 16


The first source which mentions not to touch clothing before washing is the Seder Hayom. Admur ibid rules that this is based on the Zohar. The M”A [4/1] asks on this from the Talmudic ruling brought in Admur 46/2, that one is to get dressed prior to washing hands. Seemingly Admur answered this contradiction by stating that based on the Talmud and Poskim it is allowed and only based on Zohar it is forbidden. The Levushei Serud [8/1] concludes that in truth even the M”A agrees to this stringency and it is a stringency of the later authorities and was not followed in the times of the Talmud. [Accordingly this answers the seeming contradiction between the rulings of Admur here and in 46/2]

Other Opinions: It is evident from Michaber 46/1 that he does not hold of this stringency to not touch the clothing before washing. [Levushei Serud ibid] In Od Yosef Chaiy Toldos 10 he justifies those that are accustomed to touch clothing prior to washing as the evil spirit only passes to food and not clothing.

[5] Sefer Haminhagim p. 4 [English]; Kama 1/7 concludes that every G-d fearing Jew should be stringent like the Zohar. In Basra and Siddur Admur does not give an explicit ruling in the dispute between the Zohar and Talmud, although it is clearly implied that they rule like the Zohar perhaps to an even greater degree than the Kama. [As in the Kama Admur limits the stringency to a G-d fearing Jew. However in the Basra and Siddur it is implied that all Jews are to follow the Zohar. Vetzaruch Iyun.] For this reason we did not write above [like the Kama] that specifically “a G-d fearing Jew” should follow the Zohar” as perhaps this now applies to all people, and so plainly writes Sefer Haminhagim ibid.

Ruling of Admur in 46/2: Regarding that which is written in the footnotes of the new Shulchan Aruch Harav; Hiskashrus 623 p. 16 footnote 2 that Admur in Basra 4/2 and Kama 4/5-6 and 46/2 does not mention this stringency of not touching clothing, [and hence seems to imply we don’t need to keep it] this is because there it is giving the ruling of the Talmud, although based on Zohar Admur agrees one must be stringent. [See previous footnotes from Levushei Serud 8/1] Upashut as that’s why he did not mention the other stringencies of the Zohar either! Upeleh Gadol that the above places did not pay attention to this obvious difference and hence no leniency in the opinion of Admur can be learned from those places.

[6] Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 6

[7] 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]

[8] Toras Chaim Sofer 1; Seder Hayom states: “After wearing one’s undershirt and covering oneself properly, prior to touching one’s clothing he is to wash his hands”.

Opinion of Admur: In 8/20 Admur mentions that one is allowed to place Tzitzis on him before washing in order not to walk 4 Amos without Tzitzis. Thus we see that at times getting dressed is allowed prior to washing if it is being done for the sake of a Mitzvah. However in truth no proof can be brought from this Halacha as it is going in accordance to the Talmud which permits touching clothing before washing. This is proven from the fact Admur there did not mention the prohibition of walking four Amos to reach the Tzitzis. [so also writes footnote 97 in new Shulchan Aruch Harav] Vetzaruch Iyun.

[9] Seder Hayom states: “After wearing one’s undershirt and covering oneself properly, prior to touching one’s clothing he is to wash his hands”; See previous footnote.

Other Opinions: Ateres Zikeinim 4/3 writes one is to slightly wash his hands prior to putting on the undershirt and then he is to wash himself three times properly.

[10] Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1/3; Ashel Avraham Butchach 4  “Behanal Odos”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6;

[11] To note however from Ben Ish Chaiy Toldos 15 which although is particular to not allow itching in middle of sleep he allows doing so through a clothing. Thus we see he treats touching clothing in middle of sleep as less severe than touching the orifices. So rules also Piskeiy Teshuvos 4/5; However from Mishmeres Shalom ibid it is clear that he is stringent even regarding this matter.

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