What should one do if they've just started making the berakha on bread and suddenly realised that they'd forgotten to wash? Should they

  1. continue making the berakha, and eat the bread without washing;
  2. continue making the berakha, have a mouthful of bread and then go and wash (either with or without a berakha);
  3. change the berakha into one for washing their hands, go and wash their hands and then come back and make a berakha over the bread;
  4. stop the berakha wherever you are up to and then go and wash with a new berakha;
  5. or do something else?

This question speaks of the circumstances in which a person might have forgotten to wash, but presumes that the meal is already underway. I'm only asking about a situation in which you realise that you haven't washed when you've only just started making the berakha over bread.

Also, for the purposes of this question I'm assuming that the person making the berakha has already said God's name (if they've only said ברוך אתה, or only ברוך, it's not really a question).

  • 2
    A possibility you haven't mentioned: finish the b'racha, wash (possibly with the washing b'racha), and then eat. – msh210 Dec 5 '16 at 7:39

In אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ב סימן נג (see the end of the תשובה for the summary) he says if you realized that you forgot to wash or if you realized your washing was not kosher (invalid vessel or water) after you said המוציא, you should wash with a ברכה before taking a bite.

The reason for this is that we are חושש for the opinion that one must wash even for less than a כזית. Therefore, at this point it is considered a צורך אכילה to wash and not a הפסק.

He doesn't specifically discuss where you were in the middle of the ברכה but if you said just until ה then you can finish with למדני חוקיך and if you said אלוקינו then there's really no reason not to finish since you already said the שמות and you can't go back anymore.

  • It should be noted some opinions are not concerned to wash on less than a כזית. – Double AA Dec 6 '16 at 15:28
  • As I wrote, "The reason for this is that we are חושש for the opinion that one must wash even for less than a כזית. " According to R' Moshe we do not rely on that opinion. – marc-rib Dec 6 '16 at 18:39
  • Ok, but the Arukh haShluchan says we do rely on those opinions and we don't wash on less than a Kezayis. I'm just pointing out R Moshe here is not at all universally agreed to. – Double AA Dec 6 '16 at 18:40
  • Yes, I don't mean to say this psak would be universal. Just one of many possible answers. Worth noting however, is that it's still possible the Arukh haShluchan would agree to R' Moshe, since he plans to eat more than a Kezayis then he is obligated to wash and it can be considered a צורך אכילה and not a הפסק. – marc-rib Dec 6 '16 at 18:52

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