Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Kindness and Justice

The halachah rules that one should wash his right hand first. The Zohar explains the deeper meaning of this practice. "A person should wash his right hand with his left, in order that the right [representing kindness] should overpower the left [representing justice]" (Vayeshev 184b).

However, in another section, the Zohar tells us: "The water for netilas yadayim should be taken with one's right hand" (Terumah 154b). If the water is in the right hand, then the implication is that the left hand should be washed first. How can we understand this seeming contradiction?

In practice, these two passages are reconciled as follows: First, the cup of water is taken in the right hand, then it is passed to the left hand, showing that kindness (represented by the right hand) overpowers justice (represented by the left hand) (Shulchan Aruch 4,10). Washing the right hand first further demonstrates the superiority of kindness over justice (Mishnah Berurah 4,21). This simple symbolic action helps ensure that the attribute of Hashem's kindness will be showered on us throughout the forthcoming day.

After pouring the water over the right hand, one should pass the cup back to the right hand and wash the left one. This process is repeated two more times, until each hand has been washed three times. After washing one’s hands, they should be stretched out and lifted up parallel to one’s head, and one recites the berachah of netilas yadayim (Mishnah Berurah 4,9).


Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

More and More Ourselves
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Royal Humility
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

The Essence of Jewish History
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Molded Future
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

Battle Cry of the Jew
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Protection For The Way
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

ArtScroll

In All Fairness
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Love Out of Fear
Shlomo Katz - 5760

The Sound of True Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Critical Followers
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Judging By The Situation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

An Opportunity Not To Be Missed
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

> The Torah's Path to Justice
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Truthful Judge
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Teshuva and Rebi Elazar ben Dordai
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information