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I occasionally bring a sandwich to eat for lunch at work. The company has a small kitchen where I go to wash my hands, and then I generally eat at my desk. Whenever I have bread, I always try to wait for a time when nobody is in the kitchen who will try to talk to me, wash my hands, and then run quickly back to my desk and make hamotzi because I am worried that somebody will try to strike up a conversation with me after I have washed.

My question is twofold:

1) If somebody ever does talk to me after I have washed my hands, would it be considered an interruption for me to explain that I cannot talk between washing and eating some bread? If not, how much detail can I go into before it is considered an interruption? For example, if the person asks, "So how are you talking to tell me this?" can I go on to explain that as well?

2) What are some practical steps that can be taken to avoid falling into this awkward situation.

For the purposes of this question, assume that the company has enough employees and people walking around who might talk to you that it is impractical to warn all of them ahead of time.

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    Note that if you do talk, you do not need to rewash unless you got so distracted that you stopped paying attention to your hands. (a common misconception) – Double AA Aug 4 '15 at 13:45
  • From mishna berrura 5 on siman 166 it seems that you can not walk after washing your hands more than 22 Amos (~36 ft) before eating bread – hazoriz Aug 4 '15 at 14:43
  • Halichipedia states a rule that one who talks about matters unrelated to the meal has made a hefsek. The question now is, if you explain to someone, "I can't answer your Q b/c my religious practice is not to talk between my washing my hands & eating bread" - is that called "related to the meal"? To me, it seems like it is, but offhand, I think you may have to ask your rav about this one. So far, I can't find an answer. At any rate, per other comments, easiest solution is take bread with you. Or, take a cup of water with you from kitch; wash at desk; dump water in trash pail. I do that often. – DanF Aug 4 '15 at 14:56
  • @DoubleAA Sure, but I'm assuming that's bediavad, no? – Daniel Aug 4 '15 at 15:36
  • @Daniel Probably not as bediavad as most people think it is, but yes we generally lechatchila try to avoid interruptions. – Double AA Aug 4 '15 at 15:42
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Given that you wash your hands in the kitchen, I have found that bringing a piece of bread in a sandwich bag is a useful method. That way, you can wash, make the bracha, make hamotzi and take a bite immediately before going to your desk. Some kitchen areas have a place to sit and have a bite (eat a kazayis) as well.

There is a video on The Laws Of Changing Location While Eating – Part 2 which goes into the details of this.

Note that even if you did not talk while you walked to your desk, that might be considered a hefsek in itself. However, that would require more detailed analysis. The above video link would probably discuss this.

  • Ok that answers the second part of the question. What about the first? – Daniel Aug 4 '15 at 14:35
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    Note if you don't eat a Kezayis then some opinions would require a new Hamotzi when you change location IIUC. – Double AA Aug 4 '15 at 14:47
  • @DoubleAA good point. – sabbahillel Aug 4 '15 at 14:58
  • @Daniel This avoids the problem as no-one expects you to talk with your mouth full and you have avoided the hefsek. – sabbahillel Aug 4 '15 at 14:59
  • @sabbahillel I know, but I am still interested in the first question. – Daniel Aug 4 '15 at 15:34
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See my answer to a related question - You may consider not drying your hands until you've reached the place where you will eat bread. So long as your hands remain sufficiently wet this will not be considered a hefsek.

Please note this answer is theoretical only. A competent halachic authority should be consulted before putting this in to practice.

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