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Inspired by this SMS Shut

Bread without Water Q: I am stuck in a place without water. How can I eat bread? A: In extreme circumstances, one my wrap both hands with plastic bags, or gloves, in lieu of washing them with water. Q: Is it permissible to wrap the bread? A: No.

If someone washes their hands, and then puts on gloves (say it's really cold), do they say a bracha over the washing of their hands?

If a meal will only be eaten with a fork and knife, does one still wash and make a bracha on the washing?

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You should know that washing without a bracha for vegetables dipped in liquid is a rule all year round too. Consider for example: pickles! – Double AA Jan 12 '12 at 15:41
Yes, I was trying to be cute :( – avi Jan 12 '12 at 16:28
@DoubleAA, I would not call it a rule. It is a machlokes rishonim whether it applies today and the general custom for generations has been not to wash. Those that are meticulous are machmir. – YDK Jan 12 '12 at 17:39
@DoubleAA, The SA does pasken so, but there are Rishonim that argued (Maharam Mirottenburg, Baal haItur), but the Tur sided the other way -see hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14268&st=&pgnum=309. The Aruch haShulchan (158:4) also brings the machlokes and says "for this reason (people) are lenient nowadays." (hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=7705&st=&pgnum=279). I'm not trying to be machriya here, but when you have a machlokes rishonim and the vast majority of shomrei mitzvos follow the lenient approach, I wouldn't call it a rule. – YDK Jan 12 '12 at 18:22
@DoubleAA, Your question re: Karpas is answered by the Chok Yaakov (brought by Shaar Hatzion (473:69) that since when there was a requirement to wash, the washing/dipping was established in order that the children should be curious, we still wash for that reason. (hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14169&st=&pgnum=166) Btw, this Chok Yaakov supports (though doesn't pasken) the approach of not washing. – YDK Jan 12 '12 at 18:29
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'll ask it even stronger: What if someone is feeding you and you have no intention of using your hands to interact with the food at all?

Well, the Shulchan Aruch rules in OC 163:2 that in such a case, only the one eating must wash his hands and not the one feeding. He doesn't mention that one would not say a bracha and the implication is that it's the same status as washing for bread when eating with your hands, ie. the obligation to wash is unconnected with your intention of actually touching the food.

So, in all of your cases you should wash as regular with a bracha.

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While a nice find, is that actually analogous? There might be some fun halachic wrangling going on with a shaliach status. – avi Jan 12 '12 at 16:30
@avi The levush 163:2 says it's a case of "lo plug." He is quoted as such by the Mishna Brurah as well (sk 9). I don't see anyone bringing in the idea of a shliach. – Double AA Jan 12 '12 at 17:38

The Aruch haShulchan (163:1) brings a gemara in Chulin that the sages only permitted covering the hands for terumah-eaters, but not taharos-eaters (they would be required to wash). Rashi explains that terumah-eaters are "zerizin" and will be careful not to touch the bread.

With the exception of Rambam, the rishonim do not make a distinction between taharos-eaters and chulin-eaters like us (unless water is not accessible).

The upshot is that the sages required washing even when not touching because one may inadvertently touch.

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