Do the little mayim acharonim cups which barely sprinkle enough water for three people have any source in halacha, other than what the Mishnah Berurah (181:10) is upset about? Although using the absolutely minimal level of water due to sitra achra issues makes sense as a reason to use MINIMAL amounts, what is the minimal halachically acceptable shiur?

*This question isn't asking why people incorrectly use so little water, rather what is the minimally ACCEPTABLE halachic shiur?

  • 1
    Care to elaborate "what the mishna berura is upset about"? Jan 26 '17 at 14:24
  • @DannySchoemann See the dupe where it says, "OC 181 (4) MB [10] says that when washing mayim acharonim one must wash up to the second knuckle and using a few drops does not fulfill the mitzvah at all. " Jan 26 '17 at 16:01
  • @Avrohom Yitzchock that's exactly what I wrote
    – kouty
    Jan 26 '17 at 16:19

HaRav Zamir Kohen SheLIT"A states (1:40:57-1:42:01, my translation):

Mayin Aharonim are not subject to a specific volume and one may perform "Mayim Aharonim" with all types of drinks. [For example], one who finds oneself in a place without water, only Cola, may also perform "Mayim Aharonim" with a little bit of Cola and there is no specific volume, even a very little bit to moisten the fingertips, rub them together a bit, and dry them off [...].

HaRav Zamir provides further detail in the video shi'ur cited.

  • If you put Cola on your hands that probably makes your hands more dirty then when you started and you'd have to just wash again. Hygiene standards are such nowadays the people are generally Makpid not to have sticky dried Cola on their hands. In principle water isn't required but practically nowadays just about nothing else is usable.
    – Double AA
    Jan 26 '17 at 15:48
  • @DoubleAA I, too, wasn't very fond of the example given; but, such is the language of the Shulhan 'Arukh ("בכל מיני משקים").
    – Lee
    Jan 26 '17 at 15:55
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    Any liquid works (not just water) in principle, but it has to actually clean. This isn't a magic spell that just requires liquid. You need clean hands to Bentch. If you find a cola that doesn't leave residue, or your temperament is not to care about sticky hands, go right ahead.
    – Double AA
    Jan 26 '17 at 15:55
  • If there's no specific shiur, what is the mishna berura upset about? Does wiping the droplets around your hand help?
    – NJM
    Jan 27 '17 at 2:57

See SA OC 181, 9 in Baer Heytev in name of Shilte Giborim:

וגם כח אדם בעינן כמו הראשונים. מים אחרונים אין צריכין שיעור

... There is no minimal quantity for mayim acharonim.

But the function of the mayim acharonim is to clean the hands, at least two phalanges in each fingers (sayf 4). So a bit of common sense is needed to check if the process is a process of cleaning.

The Seder Hayom (¹) writes that a small amount of water makes the hands more dirty than clean. And if someone thinks to make a chumra when taking a symbolic mayim acharonim he is wrong. Additionally according to the last Sayf of the siman if someone will wash his hands after the meal the symbolic mayim acharonim are not valuable. Mishna Berura sk 10 says the same thing.

Note, when I was writing the answer, the answer of Danny was not already published. The answers are similar but the conclusions differ


ואף על גב שלא נתנו רבותנו ז"ל שיעור למים אחרונים, אין ראוי לתת מעט מים על ידו אחיזת עיניים ולשפשף זו בזו כי אדרבה מלכלך אותם יותר... ‏


As the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says in סימן מד - הלכות מים אחרונים that one only needs to wet the first 2 sections of one's 10 fingers when doing Mayim Acharonim:

וְאֵין צְרִיכִין לִטּוֹל אֶלָּא עַד פֶּרֶק שֵׁנִי מִן הָאֶצְבָּעוֹת

The באר היטב in סימן קפא - דיני מים אחרונים explicitly says that there's no minimum amount of water proscribed, and that one only has to pour once on each hand:

מים אחרונים אין צריכין שיעור וא''צ לשפוך על ידיו אלא פעם א'.‏

So unless you have enormous fingers, a small cup should suffice.

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