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



View Complete List

Guard Yourself
- 5770

Turtle Doves Do Not Have
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Surrounded by Mirrors
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

This Month - Something New
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Wanted: Jewish Children
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5760

Days That Count
Rabbi David Begoun - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Kohen... Kohen... GONE!
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Pay Now, Gain Later
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Down & Out: Down & Up
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773


Not Afflicted, Still Affected
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

The Essence of the Jewish People
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

What a Difference a Night Makes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

> Negaim: Opening the Book
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

Division of Fathers and Sons
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

We Have the Manual for Life!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information