Q. My wife entered a bathroom during davening in order to obtain a tissue or piece of toilet paper with which to blow her nose. A local Rebbetzin told her that even in such a case she is supposed to wash her hands before continuing to daven.
I told my wife that this must be this Rebbetzin’s personal Chumra, and I don’t think it is necessary.
Am I correct?
A. On question 1723 regarding if someone puts his hand inside a bathroom just to turn off the light, if washing netilas yodaim is required, we wrote: “Poskim disagree if entering hands into a beis hakisei requires netilas yodaim. Maharsham (Daas Torah O.H. 4: 18) maintains that only in regards to entering the Beis Hamikdosh is a partial entry an issue.
Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 76: 4) quotes conflicting opinions whether one who puts a hand inside an opening on the wall of a bathroom, if netilas yodaim is required. Others (Ruach Chaim O.H. 3) are stringent and require proper three time washing from a vessel, or at least once (Ben Ish Chai, Toldos). Some opine that just the entering hand should be washed (Mishnas Yosef 5: 6).
Poskim argue that in today’s bathrooms, that are kept clean by constantly being flushed and rinsed, may not be subject to the same degree of ruach ra’a or spirit of impurity, that possessed the ones in the pre-plumbing era.
Although the minhag is to be stringent and wash our hands after entering them (Minchas Yitzchok 1: 60, Piskei Teshuvos 4: 19, et. al.).
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that in our case one can be lenient, especially in bathrooms that are used also for other purposes such as just washing hands or storing medicines etc. (See Halichos Shlomo 20: 24).”
However, if one does enter completely, although not obliged to do so, it is better to wash hands.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a