Man with his sleeves rolled up washing his hands with a white washing cup over a sink

Morning Hand-Washing

Morning Hand-Washing Staff
December 6, 2022

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.