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What type of cup can be used for hand washing in the morning


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 12, 5780
I had two questions regarding the cup that is used in the morning for hand washing (negel vaaser). First, does the cup have to have handles on the side? Almost all cups I have seen used have this trait and I was wondering if it is a requirement or not. Second, does the cup have to be a dignified cup set aside for this use or are disposable drinking cups sufficient to be used?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The cup used for ritual washing in the morning (or before eating bread), does not need two handles. The reason why two handle cups are so popular is that is very easy to use such a cup to pour water alternatively over each hand, and pass the cup back and forth between the right and left hands. But, this is only for ease of use. From a halachic religious perspective, a one handled, or no handled cup would be fine. An ordinary drinking cup, a mug, a jug or any vessel is fine. As to a disposable cup – there is a an argument amongst the later day Rabbis. Some reject the use of such a cup as it is only designed to be used once, and as such perhaps looses the status of a “vessel”. Others though allow their use. If one has no easy option to use a regular cup, such a cup may be used. If one can organize a non-disposable vessel, that would be ideal. The cup does not have to be set aside for only this use – and one may take a cup that was used for drinking etc, and use it to wash with. One may also use a cup that was used for hand washing for other uses (such as drinking from, or watering the plants). Blessings.
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