Halachos of Netilas Yodayim

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netilas-yodayim1)When washing for Netilas Yadayim, the hands must be washed with the “force of a person” (in Halachic terms known as “Koach Gavra”). In other words, the water must be poured over your hands by a human and not from a stream of water that is flowing or from a cup of water that has overturned by itself. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 159: 7-9 and Mishna Berura 60-62. See also Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil V’Im Haysa Mutah, that without Koach Gavra it doesn’t work even B’Dieved)

2) In the event that one does not have a cup with which to wash for Netilas Yadayim, the following procedure should be followed: Open the faucet and let the water go over your hand. Close the faucet. Open the faucet again and let the water flow over your hand again.

The reason for this is that the opening of the faucet is indeed considered “force of a person”, but only for the initial water that comes out and not for the water that now continues to flow. Therefore, by re-opening the faucet a second time, you now caused “force of a person” to happen a second time. (Mishna Berura 159: 63 and 64. See Shu”t Eretz Tzvi Vol. 1 Siman 87.This should only be relied upon in extreme circumstances when no cup is available, as there are other problems that may arise when using this method.)

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