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OCD in Kitchen


Happy Hanukkah!

I have a couple of related questions, both concerning the need to wash hands from a kashrut perspective. To provide context, I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that revolves around kashrut and that religious rituals (prayer etc.) are completed properly. Without getting into too much detail, the OCD related to kashrut manifests in obsessions and compulsions in checking that items are certified kosher and contamination fears in my kitchen (meat, milk, and the possibility of non-kosher contact if I do not check the kosher status of products being used). I am currently receiving treatment from several medical professionals for the condition.

The first question relates to a specific situation. Last night, I ate some meat before bed. I am pretty sure I washed my hands afterward, but my OCD makes me question everything when it comes to contamination fears. In any event, this morning one of our dairy cupboards was partially open so I opened it to see what was going on and then closed it. Afterwards, I had an obsessive thought that perhaps I had not washed my hands the night before and therefore could have contaminated the dairy dishes. Again, I’m pretty sure I washed my hands, but I’m not sure. Also, I’m pretty sure I did not actually touch any of the dairy dishes. Unfortunately, the OCD makes me question everything. In any event, are there any potential kashrut concerns here? I’m not sure touching meat hours earlier would be an issue at all (even if I forgot to wash my hands and touched the dishes).

The second question is related, but less specific. As mentioned earlier, I am currently receiving treatment from several medical professionals for the condition. Part of that treatment, is exposure response therapy where the therapist has me slowly face my fears. As I work on this, I wanted to better understand when it is halachically necessary to wash your hands between touching meat, milk, etc.? Currently, I wash them after every time. For example, even if I touch a meat dish (not actual meat) I will wash my hands before touching a dairy one. I always wash between touching an actual meat or dairy product and the opposite type/dish etc. I know it is a broad question, but I really just want to understand when it is necessary verses when it is just an unnecessary compulsion so I can work through the treatment.




You are correct. there is no need to be concerned about anything you touched a few hours earlier.

Regarding when you should wash your hands, there is only a need to wash your hands after touching something that is greasy. If it isn’t greasy, or wet from meaty juice, such as dishes there is no need for you to wash your hands.

Best wishes


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