Q. A shul provides the Arbah Minim (lulav, esrog etc.) for the people men and women that come on Sukkoth and don’t have any of their own. During these problematic times they also provide disinfectant liquid and a sign urges the users to wash their hands prior to taking the four species in their hands. Since mostly their hands are not yet dry when the hold the four species, is that considered to be a hefsek or separation? They also offer plastic gloves. Can they be used?
A. Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 651: 1) quotes Tosafos opinion that if someone wraps his hand with a handkerchief when holding the arba minim, he does not comply with the mitzva. Remah (idid.) mentions a minhag to also remove the retzuos of the tefilin and rings from the hand. Mishna Berura (32) explains that it constitutes a hefsek or separation and quotes the Ran’s opinion that it is not a ‘lekicha tama’ or the complete taking, that the Torah requires. He also mentions (ibid. 10) removing strings attached to the hadassim because of hefsek.
Poskim seem to disagree if the wetness of water constitutes a hefsek or not. Tiferes Yisroel (Yuma 3: 4) explains that the reason why the Cohen was required to dry after immersing in the mikva, was to avoid harming the Kehuna vestments he was wearing. However, Mishneh Lemelech (H. Yom Hakipurim 2: 2) mentions that it was to avoid hefsek between his body and the vestments. Others quote Birkei Yosef’s (27: 1) ruling, that those who follow the opinion of the Shaloh and wash their arms before donning tefilin, should be careful to dry them well, since besides the dishonor done to the tefilin it may be a considered a hefsek also.
Amudei Ohr (37) addresses the shaila of holding on to the lulav when still wet from the waters it was placed in for preservation and freshness. He rules that since it is done for the benefit of the arbah minim it is not considered a chatzitza. This being similar to the minhag of the people of Yerushalaim, that would decorate their lulavim with gold jewelry (Suka 37b).
However, as the Amudei Ohr points out, it is unlikely that liquids constitute any hefsek, as it is obvious that the Cohanim were standing on the Azarah courtyard of the Mikdosh with wet feet. (See Chashukei Chemed Suka 6b)
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is similar.
The Rov opines that wearing gloves is indeed a chatziza, as the Mishna Berura points out (ibid. 33). See also question 2585 regarding wearing medical gloves for netilas yodaim for bread, when waking up, or when exiting a cemetery.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a