Teves 5766 – Hilchos Netilos Yadayim – by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

15 Teves 5766

QUESTION: Are men or women required to remove their rings before washing their hands for the morning netilas yadayim (negel vasser)?

DISCUSSION: L’chatchilah, all the rules that govern netilas yadayim for a meal apply to the morning netilas yadayim as well.(1) Just as a chatzitzah (halachic obstruction) invalidates netilas yadayim for a meal, so, too, it invalidates negel vasser, l’chatchilah. Generally, a ring is considered a chatzitzah since the water cannot easily touch all parts of the finger when a ring is on the finger. Even though a loose-fitting ring does allow the water to reach all parts of the finger, the poskim maintain that it is difficult to assess what, exactly, is considered loose and what is considered tight. All rings, therefore, should be removed before washing negel vasser.(2) But b’diavad, a chatzitzah does not invalidate the morning netilas yadayim and a woman who forgot or failed to remove her rings need not repeat the washing.(3) Moreover, if a woman has a hard time removing the ring from her finger, she may leave it on when washing netilas yadayim in the morning. A ring is considered a chatzitzah only for men or women who sometimes, even on rare occasions, remove it from their finger. The occasional removal signifies that the person is sometimes particular about having the ring on his finger, rendering it a chatzitzah. But men or women who never take their rings off, even when kneading dough, swimming or performing manual labor, may l’chatchilah wash their hands while wearing a ring.(4)

1 O.C. 4:7.
2 Igros Chazon Ish 1:4.
3 See Eishel Avraham O.C. 4.
4 Based on Mishnah Berurah 161:19 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 161:6.
[A woman who removes her ring only when immersing in a mikveh may still wash with a ring on her finger.]

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt, Rabbi of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights,
and member of faculty of Yavneh Seminary in Cleveland, Ohio.