Neggel Vasser from the Bathroom Sink

Ask the Rov: Can I fill up neggel vasser from a bathroom sink?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Shulchan Aruch rules that “one who leaves the restroom” is obligated to wash their hands. Poskim explain that this applies even if one merely entered the restroom without using it, due to the ruach raah (impure spirit) that rests there.1 Accordingly, the washing would need to take place outside the restroom.

Halacha discusses “Persian bathrooms” that were designed for the excrement and urine to immediately roll into a cavity at a distance to avoid a foul odor. Halacha rules that as long as there is no foul odor present, Shema may even be recited in the room.2

Based on this, some contemporary poskim posit that clean modern-day restrooms have a similar status. Yet often there is some dirt that remains in the toilet and there is a residual foul odor. In times of need, one may wash inside but recite the bracha outside.3 In this case, one should at least keep the hands wet and dry them outside the bathroom since some mekubalim hold that the drying is what drives away the impure spirits.4

If the bathroom has other uses — e.g. shower, laundry, storage closet — some poskim say that it may not have a ruach raah and are lenient not to require hand washing for merely entering. Yet there is still room to be stringent.5

What about to take water from the bathroom sink and use it to wash outside?

Some poskim permit using such water if needed to wash outside after using the restroom, and even to wash for bread. They hold that the impure spirit of a bathroom is less intense and doesn’t prevent one from reciting Hashem’s name in brachos. It also doesn’t transmit impurity to the food that one touches (like the impurity that rests upon one’s hands after sleeping).6

In his home, the Rebbe was particular about washing in the bathroom, or even taking water from the bathroom for negel vasser, unless the sink was separated by a sturdy curtain that wouldn’t wave in the wind or a doorway according to some.

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

Discussion
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  1. In the sefer דער רבינס קינדער, page קט״ו
    “די וואסער דארף מען נעמען פון דרויסן…. ניט פון ׳בעטרום׳״

      1. Heard from R chesed halbershtam, he was once preparing negel vasser for the Rebbe from the bathroom and the Rebbe said negel vasser nemt men fun kich

  2. this question has been discussed ad infinitum in our home. the answer is still unclear. to use the Rebbe’s behavior as an example of how a chabad chossid should act is a great idea. however, the wording used in the article is confusing. to say that “the Rebbe was particular about this” does not say the same thing as saying ” the Rebbe was particular NOT to do such and such..” therefore the paragraph citing the Rebbe’s behavior adds to the confusion, and doesn’t point to a specific action. (“In his home, the Rebbe was particular about washing in the bathroom, or even taking water from the bathroom for negel vasser, unless ….”.). Please clarify the Rebbe’s view on implementing this halacha.

  3. When the Rebbe went to visit the dormitory of the Bachurim in the early years of his Nesius, he saw there was no sink out of the bathroom. He stated very clearly that you cannot take water out of the bathroom for negal vaser.

  4. I once heard: lechatchila better to take from outside the bathroom, but bidieved if there’s not nearby sink outside the bathroom, then one can take water for neggel vasser from the bathroom sink as long as the toilet seat cover is closed when doing so. I don’t have a source for this, I just remember hearing it from somewhere…

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