GATEWAY TO SELECTED TEACHINGS

Morning Hand-Washing

The first action a Jew takes after reciting “Modeh Ani” upon waking in the morning

is to wash hands with a washing cup. This act is done for a spiritual “cleansing”. 

This washing is called Netilat Yadayim (or, in Yiddish, Negel Vasser).

 

The Reasons [behind this mitzvah]:

 

A. In the Holy Temple, the priests would wash their hands before their daily service. Every individual is a priest in the temple of his or her home and heart.

 

B. While the body rests, the soul ascends heavenward to recharge. Only the most basic soul-powers are left in place—those required for basic bodily functions. The resulting void allows for a negative spiritual state called tumah. Upon awakening, we wash our hands to remove the remaining vestiges of that tumah.

 

C. During the night, the hands often touched private areas; we, therefore, wash before praying.

 

The Procedure [for the washing of hands is as follows]:

 

1. When you wake, after reciting the Modeh Ani, wash the right hand until the wrist and then the left hand; repeat, and then repeat again.

 

3. Say the blessing: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has made us holy through His commandments and has commanded us about washing hands.

 

4. Discard the water ASAP.