Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Washing With Rings

The following is a piece of Torah that is Halacha Limaaseh for most woman and many men...

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

A: L'chatchila, (O.C. 4:7) all the rules that govern netilas yadayim for a meal apply to the morning netilas yadayim as well. Just as a chatzitza (halachic obstruction) invalidates netilas yadayim for a meal, so, too, it invalidates negel vasser, l'chatchila. 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(Igros Chazon Ish 1:4). All rings, therefore, should be removed before washing negel vasser. But b'diavad, a chatzitzah does not invalidate the morning netilas yadayim and a woman (or man) who forgot or failed to remove her rings need not repeat the washing(Eishel Avraham, O.C. 4). Moreover, if a person has a hard time removing the ring from his finger, he 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/her 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'chatchila wash their hands while wearing a ring (MB 161:19 and Aruch HaShulchan 161:6 - a woman who removes her ring only when immersing in a mikvah may still wash with a ring on her finger).

* Taken from R' Neustadt's Diyunei Halacha - The Daily Halachic Discussion
**Please consult your Local Rabbi on the matter before coming to any Halachic Decisions


Rafael V. Rabinovich said...

It would be important to note: Men have no real need to wear rings. People who have not had a frum wedding may think that a married man has to have a ring. Not so. As a matter of fact, when the man gives his wife-to-be a ring under the Chupah, she accepts it, but does not give him a ring in exchange. Thus she becomes mekudeshes, sanctified, unto her husband in accordance with the faith of Moshe and Israel.

As a practical advice wearing rings is bichlal not a good idea, for the reasons you expose in your article. It is inconvenient to remove rings, and to avoid the shaalah it is better to just not wear them.

A married woman who wears her wedding ring must be careful to remove it when washing. Now, of course, b'di eved if she washed in the morning with her ring on, it is acceptable.

Ibn Mordechai said...

R' Rabinovitch-

Much obliged for further clarifying the halacha for our readers.

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You are Sorely Missed!