WHICH WATER MAY BE USED
(Rav Dimi): It once happened that a man was fed pork because he did not wash before a meal. (The one serving him assumed that he was a Nochri);
Another man (Reuven) did not wash after a meal, and this caused him to divorce his wife. It enabled someone to see what Reuven had eaten, and thereby trick Reuven's wife.)
(Ravin): The man who did not wash beforehand was fed Nevelah. Reuven killed his wife.
(Chizkiyah): One may not wash before a meal using water heated by a fire.
(R. Yochanan): One may wash with it;
R. Gamliel the son of Rebbi (who ate his food in Taharah) said that all the great Chachamim of Galil do so.
(Chizkiyah): One may not wash before a meal with water of (the hot spring of) Teverya, but he may immerse his hands in the water (to be Metaher them);
(R. Yochanan): One may immerse his whole body in the water (to become Tahor), but not his hands.
Question: If one may immerse his whole body in the water, all the more so he may immerse his hands in it!
Answer (Rav Papa): All agree that one may immerse his hands in the spring itself;
All agree that one may not wash with water taken from the spring in a Kli;
They argue about Bas Birsa (a channel into which the spring flowed. It does not contain 40 Se'ah);
Mid'Oraisa, it is valid for immersion (it is connected to the spring. Alternatively, 40 Se'ah are needed only to immerse a person. A Revi'is suffices for everything else). R. Yochanan decrees to disqualify it mid'Rabanan, lest one immerse in a Kli. Chizkiyah does not decree.
Chizkiyah and R. Yochanan argue like the following Tana'im;
(Beraisa): If water spoiled to the point that animals cannot drink it:
If the water is in a Kli, it is Pasul (for washing). If it is in the ground, it is Kosher (for immersion);
R. Shimon ben Elazar says, even if it is in the ground, it may be used (only) to immerse one's body, but not one's (face,) hands and feet. (Rashi - there is no Halachic significance of immersing the face or feet; the Tana mentioned them merely because it is typical to discuss washing the face, hands and feet. Rabbeinu Gershom deletes 'face' from the text. The Beraisa discusses Kidush of the hands and feet for Avodah in the Mikdash.)
Question: If one may immerse his whole body in the water, all the more so he may immerse his hands (and feet) in it!
Answer: They argue about Bas Birsa. R. Shimon decrees to disqualify it, lest one immerse in a Kli. The first Tana does not decree.
FOR WHICH FOOD DO WE WASH?
(Rav Idi bar Avin): We wash before a meal of Chulin so that we will be accustomed to guarding our hands from Tum'ah, lest we be Metamei Terumah. Also, it is a Mitzvah.
Question: Which Mitzvah is it?
Answer #1 (Abaye): It is the Mitzvah to obey Chachamim.
Answer #2 (Rava): It is the Mitzvah (Rashi - mid'Oraisa; Tosfos - mid'Rabanan) to obey R. Elazar ben Arach;
(Beraisa - R. Elazar ben Arach): "Anyone whom a Zav will touch, and will not wash his hands" is Chachamim's source for washing before a meal.
Question (Rava): How does he learn this from the verse?
Answer (Rav Nachman): We cannot take the verse literally. If a Zav touched someone, washing his hands is not Metaher. He must immerse!
Rather, it is a Scriptual support for the Rabbinic law that someone else (not touched by a Zav, rather, one about to eat) is Tamei until he washes his hands.
(R. Elazar): We wash for fruit only for cleanliness.
People understood that it is not an obligation, but it is a Mitzvah.
(Rava): It is not even a Mitzvah. It is Reshus.
This is unlike Rav Nachman;
(Rav Nachman): One who washes his hands for fruit is haughty.
Rabah bar bar Chanah: I was in front of R. Ami and R. Asi. A basket of fruit was brought to them. They ate without washing the hands. They did not give to me, and each blessed by himself.
We learn three things from this;
We do not wash the hands for fruit;
When people eat fruit together, they do not make a Zimun (a preface to saying the Berachah Acharonah);
If two people ate, the Mitzvah is for each to bless (afterwards) by himself (and not for one to exempt the others).
Support (Beraisa): If two people ate, the Mitzvah is for each to bless by himself;
This is only if both know how to bless. If only one of them knows, he blesses, and the other fulfills his obligation through listening.
HOW MUCH OF THE HAND MUST ONE WASH?
(Beraisa): For Chulin, one must wash until the joint (the second knuckle from the end of the fingers);
For Terumah, one must wash until the joint (where the fingers connect to the palm);
Washing the hands in the Mikdash (before Avodah) must be until the (wrist) joint.
Any Chatzitzah (separation) that disqualifies immersion also disqualifies washing the hands for Chulin or washing the hands and feet in the Mikdash.
Rav showed his Talmidim how far to wash for Chulin and how far for Terumah.
Shmuel was stringent. He required the same amount for Chulin as for Terumah.
Rav Sheshes was lenient. He required the same amount for Terumah as for Chulin.
R. Ami was stringent. He required the same amount for Chulin as for Terumah.
Do not say that he was stringent only because he was a Kohen. R. Meisha was just as stringent, and he was a Levi!
(Rav): One may wash his hands in the morning and stipulate that he will guard their Taharah the entire day (so he may eat without washing again).