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Chapter 40: 4-6
The Laws of Washing Before a Meal

4. It is difficult to quote an exact figure for the minimum amount of water one must pour over one's hands. It is necessary to pour a large quantity of water over each hand.* [Shabbos 62b] quotes Rav Chisdoh as saying "I wash with a full handful of water, and (G-d) grants me a full handful of goodness."

* {The Shulchon Oruch HoRav (162:1) and the Mishnoh B'ruroh (158:37) require a minimum of a revi'is to be poured over each hand.}

One should wash the right hand first, and then the left (as stated above, Chapter 2, Law 3). The water must cover the entire hand until the wrist, without leaving even a small place that is not covered with water. Accordingly, one should separate his fingers slightly and turn them upward so that the water will cover their entire length and breadth.

The water should cover the entire hand with one pouring. Therefore, it is proper not to pour from a vessel which has a narrow opening, [e.g.,bottle,] for then the water does not come out in a single pouring.

It is proper to pour water on each hand twice.

5. After a person washes both his hands, he should rub them together before he dries them, raise them upward to the level of his head as [Psalms 134:2] states: "Raise up your hands in holiness," and recite the blessing:

[Boruch Attoh A-d-o-n-o-i E-l-o-h-e-i-n-u Melech Ho'olom] asher kid'shonu b'mitzvosov v'tzivonu al netilas yodoyim.([Blessed are You, G-d our Lord, King of the Universe] Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of the hands.)

(As explained above [Chapter 9, law 8], it is customary to recite the blessing for a mitzvah before performing the mitzvah. However, washing one's hand is an exception, since, at times, one's hands are not clean before they are washed. [In order that there be a uniform custom,]the Sages instituted the practice of reciting the blessing after the washing in all cases. Therefore, [the blessing is recited before the mitzvah is completed,] since drying the hands is also part of the mitzvah.)

A person who follows the practice of washing each hand twice should pour water on each hand once, rub them together, recite the blessing, and then pour water over each hand a second time.*

* {In his Pesokim to the Siddur, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, and, similarly, the Mishnoh B'ruroh (158:41), state that the blessing should be recited after pouring water over one's hands the second time.}

One should be careful to dry one's hands well. One should not dry them on one's garments, for this is damaging to one's memory.

6. If, after pouring water on one hand, one touched it with the other unwashed hand, or if another person touched one's washed hand [with unwashed hands], the water on one's hand became impure and it is necessary to dry one's hand and wash it again. If this happened after one has recited the blessing, a second blessing should not be recited.

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