Walking before washing 2



Q&A on walking four Amos

May one sit up on his bed prior to washing hands?

Some[1] avoid sitting up on the bed prior to washing hands.[2]


May one place his feet on the ground prior to washing?[3]

One[4] is to beware from placing his feet on the ground prior to washing hands.[5] Likewise one is to beware from standing, even on his bed, prior to washing.


If one woke up in middle of the night and is planning to instantly return back to sleep must he wash prior to walking?[6]

  • Example: One woke up in middle of the night and needs to use the bathroom, must he wash beforehand?

One is to wash his hands beforehand.[7] However some Poskim[8]rule there is no need to wash prior to doing so being he plans to return back to sleep. Practically some[9] rule that in a case of great need one may rely on their opinion. According to all if one woke up past Alos he must wash his hands prior to doing any of the above even if he plans to return to sleep.


If one washed and plans on going back to sleep, should he discard the water prior to doing so?[10]

When one washes his hands in middle of the night, even though he plans to return to sleep, he is to discard the water.


In the above case must one prepare Negel Vasser again for the next time he wakes up?

Yes. When one washes his hands in middle of the night, and he plans to return to sleep, he is to prepare new water for the morning.[11]


What is one to do if he is sleeping on a bunk bed?[12]

He may descend from the bunk bed and wash his hands within four Amos from the bed. [Although if possible it is best to have someone bring him the water.]


May one walk within the same room without washing his hands?

No. However some Poskim[13] allow doing so. Some Poskim[14]rule one may rely on this opinion in a case of need. According to all one may not walk outside of the room before washing.[15]


[1] Darkei Chaim Veshalom 1

[2] To not however from Basra 1/6 that one is to say Modeh Ani while sitting or lying.

[3] Mishmeres Shalom 1/2 in name of Igara Diparka 9 which writes this custom in the name of Rav Zusha of Anipoli; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 1; Mentioned also in Shulchan Hatahor 1/2; Ashel Avraham Butchach 4  “Behanal Odos”: “I found in Sefarim that one is to wash hands prior to getting out of bed”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/7

[4] Mishmeres Shalom mentions this as a custom of Tzaddikim. Practically today this custom is followed by many and so is written in Igara Diparka in name of Rav Zusha as a general warning for the public.

[5] Placing the feet on the ground prior to washing can cause one to have a bad day in terms of that his animal soul will persecute him and try to seduce him to sin. This is hinted to in the verse “Yisyatzeiv Al Derech Lo Tov” [He stands on a bad road] and will thus not despise evil. [Rav Zusha ibid] These words which were said with Ruach Hakodesh do not need any support. Nevertheless as a possible reason for the severity one can explain it is because placing one’s feet on the ground and standing allows the evil spirit to “stand” and become grounded and hence the evil inclination receives extra power. [Igara Diparka ibid brought in Mishmeres Shalom ibid]

[6] Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1/3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6

[7] Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 1/3; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 3; Toras Yekusiel 1/1; Kaf Hachaim 4/4 in name of Zechor Leavraham “Regarding this prohibition of walking four Amos it makes no difference whether one awakens in middle of the night and desires to return to sleep or is awaking in the morning.”

[8] Ashel Avraham Butchach 4 “Behanal Odos”: “I heard from my father in law that the stringency of the Zohar not to walk four Amos prior to washing is only when one awakens in the morning without intent to return to sleep. This is opposed to one who temporarily gets up in middle of the night to use the bathroom and then immediately returns to sleep, in which case one may be lenient to walk to the bathroom without washing hands beforehand. This is a great justification for those that are lenient in this.”

[9] Mishmeres Shalom ibid questions this ruling and concludes as above that one may only be lenient in a time of need; So rules also Shraga Hameir 3/103; Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6 footnote 41; However based on Kaf Hachaim 4/4 it would be forbidden just like one who awoke in the morning. To note that even the Ashel Avraham ibid concludes that “one who adds in holiness and purity certainly is blessed”.

Reason to be lenient: The Mishmeres Shalom ibid questions the ruling of the Ashel Avraham as what difference does it make whether he desires to return to sleep. Vetzaruch Iyun as the entire reason for not allowing walking before washing is because one defiles the service of Hashem by delaying the removal of the evil spirit. [Basra 1/7] If however one plans to returns to sleep right away then he is not yet ready to serve Hashem and hence delaying the removal of the evil spirit is just like one who continues sleeping without awaking in which he did no wrong by allowing the evil spirit remain on his hands throughout the night.

[10] Shulchan Hatahor 4/1; Zohar Chaiy Vayeishev brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 1/6: “Leaving the water there is a Sakana and can lead to Keri”.

[11] As the spirit of impurity will once again reside on his hands upon him returning to sleep before Alos. If however it is already past Alos and one plans to return to sleep then there is no need to prepare new water just like is the law regarding one who sleeps during the day.

[12] Chelkas Yaakov 3/152

[13] Shvus Yaakov 3/8 in name of Rashba rules the custom is not to be careful against walking four Amos being people consider the entire house as four Amos. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 1/2] Thus according to this opinion one may walk around the room before washing.

[14] Shaareiy Teshuvah 1/2; M”B 1/2

[15] As only the room is considered like four Amos according to the lenient opinion and not the entire house. [Peri Megadim 4 A.A. 1; Ashel Avraham 4; Beis Baruch 2/2; See however Daas Torah 1]



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