If you wash netilat yadayim and then a non-Jew says "hello" to you, should you:

  • say "hello" back and wash again?
  • try to acknowledge him without actually talking?
  • or ignore him (doesn't seem right)?
  • 1
    user1208 welcome to J.SE! Thank you for this great question! Hope to see you around. Jan 27, 2012 at 4:27
  • Can you explain why you think these are your options? As opposed to just responding like normal and continuing what you were doing?
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 4:30
  • 2
    From the title I assumed you meant washing in the morning. Then I saw the question (and its "hefsek" tag) and gathered that you probably mean washing before a meal. Could you clarify for certain which you mean, please, and, as @SethJ asks, could you also clarify why you think these three are your options?
    – msh210
    Jan 27, 2012 at 4:46
  • 2
    @user1208 I was on askmoses.com trying to ask a rabbi about this but all he said to the question was "yes", meaning you can greet a gentile. However, I am not sure about this hesek-interruption part and the rabbi didn't say anything other than yes, that's why I am commenting instead of answering. Oh, I did read on the internet that you are not supposed to ask a Gentile to help you with washing, other than that, not a lot of references regarding Gentiles when it comes to netilat yadayim. Being a Gentile, I had to even look up the term itself. :-) Jan 27, 2012 at 4:50
  • 3
    You might also clarify what the non-Jew has to do with it.
    – Seth J
    Jan 27, 2012 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


May I call you user1208?

There are 2 questions there:

  1. Am I allowed to interrupt in such a circumstance? (Yes)
  2. If I do interrupt (legally or illegally), does that require me to wash again? (No)

Even when we have strict standards for interrupting between related brachos, like birchos krias shema, we pasken like Rabbi Yehuda in Brachos 2:1-

ובפרקים שואל מפני הכבוד ומשיב שלום לכל אדם Between the paragraphs, one may greet shalom to someone of honor and he may answer shalom (when greeted) to any man. (loosely)

This is brought by the Shulchan Aruch OC 66:1. The Mishna Berura there brings that one may even greet another who is in between paragraphs knowing that he will answer. This is even more true between netilas yadayim and hamotzi which according to SA OC 166:1 is "good" not to interrupt, but unclear whether there is a violation.

As for whether one needs to rewash because of the interruption- besides the aforementioned non-ruling of the Shulchan Aruch regarding interrupting, the Mishna Berura states there (6) that the entire interruption law, even for those who hold it is absolute, is only lechatechila. After the fact, one need not rewash (unless he became totally involved in another matter).

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