The Way of G-d
Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 6: "The Sequence of the Day"
Paragraphs 3 & 4
But take heart, for there's indeed a way to undo the forces of unholiness
that continue to stand their ground in the morning, and to thus greet the
daylight with new spiritual vigor.
And though it comes down to the seemingly simple act of handwashing
(albeit with a difference), know that this process has been transmitted to
us by the Torah and its sages every bit as much as the apparently grander
and more solemn ritualistic things we do. The truth be known, though, our
morning handwashing comforms to the sort of ablutions that were done in
the Holy Temple by the High Priest and others, but that's besides our
Thus we proceed to pour water over our right hand, then our left, and back
again, three times in a row. And that purifies them and undoes the last
vestige of the forces of unholiness left behind on our fingers.
(Many explain, by the way, that the reason why the night's unholiness
stays attached to our fingers, of all places, is because the fingers are
the outermost ends of our body, which is itself the outermost end of our
And once our hands are thus cleansed, our whole body becomes ritually
clean, and the universe itself is cleansed of the nightime unholiness on
an esoteric level, since we're a microcosm of it. This recondite cleansing
process also comes into play the other times we cleanse ourselves (as we
do after using the bathroom, for example), but on a lower level. For in
each instance we not only remove dirt and grime, we also dislodge a lot of
the grit and goop of unholiness, and can thus draw closer to G-d.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org.