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Crystal clear laws to get out of muddy waters


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

During the summer months, I walk around with a water bottle, which I’m constantly sipping from to avoid dehydration. I never know when to say shehakol, or if I should ever say borei nefashos, since this is going on all day.

If you plan to be constantly sipping water all day long, then you recite shehakol before taking your first sip and borei nefashos after the last sip — even if many hours will have passed since you made shehakol. (Borei nefashos is recited only if at least three fluid ounces of water was drunk in a span of less than four minutes at one point during the drinking session — which in this case, is any time during the entire day.)

But this holds true only as long as you remain in the same location throughout your entire drinking session. If you change your location after beginning to drink — e.g., you leave your home or office to take a walk or drive somewhere — then recite borei nefashos before leaving your location and repeat shehakol before starting to drink again in the new location.

Does bottled water with added minerals and electrolytes need a hechsher?

No. Only flavored water requires a proper hechsher.

If I’m swimming in a private pool with only women, do I need to cover my hair?

From a purely halachic perspective, covering your hair is not required in this situation, just like the rest of your body is not properly covered when you’re swimming where only women are present. Still, many married women are careful to never allow their hair to be exposed, even when swimming with other women, and this is a praiseworthy custom to accept and uphold.

Am I allowed to make a brachah while wearing a bathing suit?

As a general rule, one should only recite a tefillah or a brachah when adequately dressed. If a situation arises where you need to recite a brachah while wearing a bathing suit, you should don a bathrobe, if possible, or at least drape a towel around yourself before reciting the brachah.

However, if this proves difficult, it’s permitted to recite a brachah while wearing a bathing suit, and this is permitted even if there are other women who are wearing bathing suits in the immediate area. (As usual, a married woman should be particular to cover her hair before reciting a tefillah or a brachah, even when she’s indoors and alone.)

In general, I’m careful to wear socks outdoors. Am I therefore not allowed to remove my socks when going wading if men may pass by?

If you are careful to wear socks when outdoors, as is the accepted custom nowadays in the majority of frum communities, you may not remove your socks to wade in a public place where men may be passing by.

On a recent overnight in camp, the counselors in charge of the supplies had not toiveled the heavy metal grills for the barbecue, claiming it wasn’t necessary as they would only be used once. Are they correct?

If the metal grills are disposable, meaning they can only be used once and then are disposed of, then tevilah is not required. But in your case, where non-disposable heavy metal grills are being used, tevilah is required, even if you decide that you will use the grills only one time. This is true in regards to all utensils: using them one time does not exempt them from tevilah, unless they were designed to be used only one time and then discarded.

We recently went on a family picnic and realized when we were sitting in the open field that we’d neglected to pack a cup for netilas yadayim. We had some plastic drinking cups and bottles. What would be our best option?

Using plastic cups for washing netilas yadayim, while not ideal, is permitted by most poskim. L’chatchilah it is not advisable to use a bottle, a soda can, or any vessel with a narrow opening for washing, since it is preferable that the entire revi’is reach the hand full-force from the vessel from which it’s being poured. If, however, no other vessel is readily available, it is permitted to use one with a narrow opening as long as the water is poured in an uninterrupted flow. If you don’t have plain water available, you may also use a bottle or can of seltzer.

(Under extenuating circumstances, when no water or seltzer can be found, it is permitted to wash netilas yadayim from a bottle or can of soft drink or a container of coffee or tea. The brachah of al netilas yadayim, however, is not recited when doing so.)


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 752)

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