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I have been in situations where most everyone follows the common minhag of washing after kiddush before hamotzi, whereas, unless it is minhag avot for my host, I wash beforehand. '

This has prompted the question of whether kiddush would be considered a hefsek between washing and making birkat hamotzi.

Long story short, what would a hefsek consist of, taking this minhag into account?

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Something unrelated to the meal. – Double AA Mar 5 '14 at 19:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There's a chapter (siman) of Shulchan Aruch devoted to this — but a short one. Orach Chayim 166 reads:

Some say that one need not be careful lest he interrupt between washing hands and saying the blessing over bread; others say he must be careful. It's good to be careful. And if he waited the time it takes to walk twenty-two ama (cubits), that's called an interruption.

Mishna B'rura clarifies that the first opinion agrees an interruption is forbidden if it occupies one mind, taking it away from the purity of his hands, and that the second opinion agrees that an interruption is okay if it's needed for the meal[1]. [Thus, the difference between the two opinions is in the case of an interruption that doesn't heavily occupy the mind but isn't needed for the meal.]

We see, then, that an interruption needed for the meal is fine; and kidush obviously is for the meal (MB 271:61).

[1] But MB cites authorities that say that, even so, one should ideally be as quick as possible. See there for more details, too.

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