You Are Here: Home » Responsa Resource » Daily Living » Washing Hands After Having Touched Covered Body Parts

Washing Hands After Having Touched Covered Body Parts

Question:
It seems clear from the Mishna Berurah 04:21-22 that if one touches “normally covered body parts,” such as above the elbow, one has to wash his hands. How do we deal with this vis-a-vis hanochas tefillin? For the Shel Rosh, it is very easy NOT to “scratch the head,” but for the Shel Yad, it is nearly impossible to avoid touching the bicep area. If netilah is required, how can we make the beracha of “L’Honiach Tefillin?” Rubbing the fingertips on wood or the like is not enough (per se’if kotton 57). Does it make sense to have a “tallis yavesh” (se’if koton 57) handy, such as a clean handkerchief, with which to be “menakei” the whole hand? And if yes, should the hands be washed before the “kerichos” around the hand/fingers? What is the proper procedure, l’maaseh?
Answer:

The Ben Ish Chai [Toldos 17] writes that since the bicep where the tefillin is place is revealed daily to put on the tefillin, it loses it’s status as mekomos mechusim, and therefore may be touched without netila. Many rely on this leniency brought down by the Kaf Hachaim. I f one wishes to be machmir he should try to avoid touching the bicep, for some this is possible. If touched, although wiping the tips of the fingertips is not sufficient as you quoted, the hands may be thoroughly rubbed on even a hard surface, not necessarily a talis yavesh. There are those who wash their hands after putting on tefillin, although this is not the common excepted practice.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to top