Is it permissible to read Torah or pray before morning netilat yadayim if one says “HaShem” or “Adonai” rather than vocalizing The Divine Name?

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    Traditionally, one never vocalizes the Divine Name outside of the Temple. Rather one always pronounces YKVK as if it were written Adon-ai (or, occasionally, Elo-him)
    – Joel K
    Jul 6, 2022 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch 4:23 states that for blessings and other prayers (aside from Shema and Shemona Esrei) it is permissible to say if you don’t know for sure that the hands are unclean (Ruach Ra is not a problem, only touching places that are covered):

לא תקנו נטילת ידים אלא לק"ש ולתפלה אבל ברכות דשחרית יכול לברך קודם נטילה אא"כ הוא ישן על מטתו ערום שאז אסור להזכיר את השם עד שינקה אותם

Washing hands was only prescribed for reciting the Shema and for [the Amidah] prayer, but the blessings of the morning are permitted to be recited before washing, unless one sleeps naked in one's bed, in which case one may not mention the holy Name until he cleans them.

The Mishnah Berura 4:60 explains the reason sleeping naked is a problem is because then you definitely touched covered places during your sleep.

In an instance where one did sleep naked, he can pray without using the name of Hashem or any name that is a kinnui (Adon… is a kinnui, Hashem isn’t) as the MB says in 1:8 -

ואין צריך לזה נטילת ידיים, ואף אם ידיו מטונפות, כי אין מזכיר בזה הנוסח לא שם ולא כינוי. ומכל מקום ללמוד נראה דאסור קודם שנטל ידיו, ובלאו הכי אסור קודם ברכת התורה

In regards to learning, as is clear from the above quote, it is not allowed if you know your hands probably touched a covered place. However, if you don’t have water and are going to have to wait a while to get it, the MB in 1:2 recommends cleaning them a different way instead of not learning

אם אירע כשמשכים בלילה שאין לו מים ליטול ידיו שלוש פעמים כראוי להעביר רוח הטומאה, אף על פי כן חלילה לו לבטל מדברי תורה משום זה עד שיאיר היום, אלא יטול מעט או ינקה ידיו בכל מידי דמנקי ויברך וילמוד, כדין התלמוד והפוסקים

Thinking in learning without verbalizing the words is permitted (MB 85:15)

  • I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on my nightstand in case I wake up during the night and am too tired to get out of bed but want to learn. Usually what happens though is if I'm too tired to make it to the bathroom I'm also too tired to reach for the hand sanitizer so it doesn't happen.
    – Heshy
    Jul 6, 2022 at 14:11

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