11 May 2006


The following was anonymously commented on a previous posting (I have edited for grammar, etc.):
Hi, we have a question - kind of weird. My daughter's boyfriend said that he learned in high school (yeshiva) that you need to wipe (after using bathroom) with your left hand. Is this true? Not quite sure why he told us, but it was included in him telling us not to wear our shirts inside out because the mishna berurah says it is a ruah ra'ah (we are sephardic - does Rambam say this, too?). This is all too much for me. My kids are orthodox but I am traditional.
I'm trying to figure out how to answer this. My automatic instinct is to start spitting out halakhic sources, but I'm getting the sense that this is not the main topic at hand (don't worry, I'll touch on the halakhic topics further on in this post). There's definitely a feeling of being threatened by a sweeping change in lifestyle - and not just any - one that not only heads for restricting one's behavior, but the worst kind - illogical or irrational. Also there's probably some feeling of one's own values being encroached. And this is the point where I definitely need further pastoral counseling training [than just one year's worth] and cannot sufficiently answer this aspect of the question.
Now, on to the halakhic bit: Yes, one is supposed to wipe with one's left hand. I can post about this separately as it seems like an interesting topic with several different reasons offered in the Talmud. As to the not wearing shirts inside out, that's a trickier subject. I can first of all say that there is no ruah ra'ah concerns when it comes to wearing one's clothing inside out. As to the severity of this - it's really not that big of a deal, but it doesn't look that good, though (it initially is said with regards to a talmid hakham and not for people, in general - and certainly not in any sort of prohibitory fashion). In fact, the Mishnah Berurah (2.4) states that "if he is a talmid hakham (DK - although I don't see any reason why this would not also extend to a talmidat hakham as well), he needs to straighten it out and properly reorient it..., but for everybody else, there is not need." However, he does distinguish that prayer is special and, thus, "even everybody needs to straighten out his garment in an orderly fashion...."
As I noted above, the wearing one's shirt/garment normally is just more socially acceptable, but not a halakhic problem (for instance, if one goes jogging or to the gym, then wearing it inside out would probably not be a problem).
As to the wiping with one's left hand, it oughtn't be too much of a problem for them to follow. However, if your situation is not simply one of a halakhah there or a halakhah here, then it's definitely something to speak with your children and/or your rabbi about your situation. God bless.
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