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I am under the impression that one is required to wash one's hands with a utensil (typically, the same type of cup used to wash before bread) after using the bathroom.

  • Firstly, what is the source of this custom?
  • Secondly, why must a utensil be used when washing one's hands after using the bathroom?
  • Lastly, is it permissible to wash one's hands without a utensil (after using the bathroom)?
  • Why wouldn't it need a utensil? – Double AA Apr 23 '13 at 21:30
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    That reference in the Shulchan Aruch doesn't mention a bathroom at all. It's talking about washing one's hands upon awaking. – Double AA Apr 23 '13 at 21:32
  • I'm confused about your last comment, @DoubleAA. Shulchan Aruch 4:18 explicitly says "אלו דברים צריכים נטילה במים: [...] היוצא מבית הכסא". – Lee Apr 23 '13 at 22:06
  • But that's not where it talks about the utensil. – Double AA Apr 23 '13 at 22:22
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    Yes,for davening or learning, but when one wakes up they need to get rid of the ruach raah – sam Apr 23 '13 at 23:10
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In Siddur Horav he writes one does not need to pour 3 times and one does not need a utensil.

אם עשה צרכיו...צריך ליטול ידיו שנית במים לתפלה פעם אחת...אך א"צ כלי

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See Rivevos Ephraim 5:593 who brings the Ben Ish Chai (Od Yosef Chai), who makes a distinction between "ruach raah" of a bathroom and that of sleep. Because the "ruach raah" of the bathroom is not as strong, there is a leniency and one does not need a utensil. See Minchas Aron Daf 13:1. It seems that one can be lenient and use the faucet after bathroom use, and there is a true source.

See inside for exact wording. See Igros Moshe EH 1:114.

  • If you look at the Shaarei Tshuvah 4:12,he says very similar. – sam Apr 24 '13 at 12:12
  • If you look at that Shaarei Tshuvah more carefully, though, you might see the opposite. He is coming off the Mekor Chayim of R' Chayim Kohen who is referring to washing INTO a Keli. The Eliyahu Rabbah quotes the same piece although it is misleading. – HaLeiVi Sep 22 '15 at 4:49
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It is not at all clear one needs to use a utensil to wash hands after using a bathroom. In a review of sources, R Ari Zivotofsky writes (here)

Misconception: Upon exiting a bathroom, one should wash by pouring water from a keli (utensil) three times on each hand.

Fact: There is an obligation to wash after using the bathroom (Shulchan Aruch OC 4:18), but three times is not specified, and a keli is not required.

Details: The earliest source for washing upon exiting the bathroom is a mishnah (Yoma 28a) that states that in the Beit Hamikdash there was a rule requiring a Kohen to immerse in the mikvah after he defecated and to sanctify (i.e. wash) his hands and feet with water from the Temple’s laver after he urinated. The mishnah seems to portray this as a rule unique to the Temple. The Talmud (Yoma 29b-30a) explains that the requirement for washing hands and feet is solely for hygienic purposes. Rabbeinu Tam (ibid, Tosafot Yeshanim, s.v. mitzvah) deduces that if a Kohen urinated but his hands remain clean, there is no obligation to wash.

All the sources that mention a non-Beit Hamikdash-related washing after the bathroom are post-Talmudic. These sources include the Tashbetz, Kolbo and Mordechai, all of whom are cited by the Beit Yosef (OC 4). Other than cleanliness, there are two reasons discussed for the washing. Similar to washing before davening (OC 92:4), some view it as a preparation for reciting the berachah Asher Yatzar after using the bathroom (see Tur OC 165 and commentaries). Additionally, according to the Mishnah Berurah (4:40; 227:11) and others, merely entering a beit hakisei (an old-fashioned as opposed to a modern bathroom) imposes a ruach ra, which must be removed by washing. However, the mishnah regarding the Temple referred to above presumably refers to a Kohen who took care of his needs in a bathroom and yet the Talmud makes no mention of a ruach ra. Furthermore, many authorities argue that a modern, clean, multi-purpose bathroom does not convey a ruach ra even if an old-fashioned bathroom does.

The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 7:3) summarizes these sources as follows: If, while using the facilities, one did not touch anything dirty or any part of his body that is normally covered, there is no requirement to wash at all. Nonetheless, the custom is to wash, either because of cleanliness or because it is proper in order to say Asher Yatzar. He observes that some have the custom to wash thrice, but the Beit Yosef does not rule that way. The Aruch Hashulchan makes no mention of a keli or ruach ra.

According to those who hold that the washing is for cleanliness or in preparation for Asher Yatzar, there are few ritual requirements. Similar to the washing prior to davening, such a washing requires neither a keli nor three washings. According to the Mishnah Berurah (4:38), which holds that the washing is due to a ruach ra, the washing still has fewer rules than other ritual washings — such as for bread — and does not require a keli (Mishnah Berurah 165:2). The washing after using the bathroom is more akin to a washing for hygienic reasons, such as is required after removing one’s shoes or cutting one’s hair (SA OC 4:18).

The Yalkut Yosef similarly indicates that washing after using the bathroom does not require a utensil. This was stated explicitly by Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul who reportedly washed from a faucet even when a utensil was readily available, in order to emphasize this point.

Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss observes that while most authorities state that a keli is not required, in deference to the minority opinion, it is a good idea to use a keli, although he reiterates that it is not required.

In the yeshivah world washing with a utensil after using the bathroom is a widespread practice, possibly based on the custom of the Chazon Ish as publicized in Ta’ama D’kra. However, this custom seems to have been a personal stringency of the Chazon Ish and not intended as a halachah for the masses.

See the original for more details and sources.

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