A person should eat a substantial meal by the end of the first third of the day, but not later than noon; see 157:1. If he eats a sufficient quantity of bread (see 158:2-3), or makes a meal out of baked food made from grain (see 158:1), or eats food that is normally washed in liquid (see 158:4-5) and is touched by the hands, he must wash his hands if water is available (see 158:8;163:1); but washing is not required for drinking (158:6). On cases where the washing must be repeated see 158:7 and 164:1-2; on the importance of washing the hands see 158:9. After washing for bread or baked grain foods, the blessing “… Who commanded us about washing the hands” is recited (158:1,11;159:20) and the hands are dried (see 158:11-13;159:19).
A hand may be washed by entirely immersing it (see 158:13;159:7,14-19; 160:5,7;161:1;162:1) or by pouring water over it from a utensil that is made to hold liquid (see 159:1-7). The pouring must be by the direct act of a person (see 159:7-12), and there must be intent to wash for eating (see 159:13). The water must not be discolored (160:1), must be fit for an animal to drink (160:8-9), must not have been used for washing or for work purposes (see 160:2-3,11), and must be liquid (see 160:10,12); but it can be hot (see 160:6-8) and can have been used for drinking (see 160:4). On washing in other liquids see 160:12; on cases of doubt see 160:11; on disposing of the water see 162:10.
The hand should be washed up to the wrist (see 161:4), all at once (see 162:3). Nothing must prevent contact of the water with the hand unless its presence is unobjectionable; see 161:1-3. The required quantity of water (at least the volume of 1.5 eggs; see 158:10;160:13-15) should be poured over the hand all at once, or the water should be poured over the hand three times; if this is not done, the hands may need to be rewashed if they touch the used water or each other (see 162:1-2,4-10).
A person must wash his hands even if he eats without touching the food (see 163:1-2); but a person who feeds someone else need not wash his hands, provided the person who is eating has washed his hands (163:2). A person must wash his hands before eating even if he washed them previously and kept them clean, but he need not recite the blessing (see 158:7;164:1; 165:1). There should be no interruption between washing and eating; see 166:1. When many people are eating together, on the order in which they wash their hands see 165:2.
Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project Genesis, Inc.