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Chapter 44: 1-3
Reciting Grace after Meals

1. There are many who practice leniency regarding the laws concerning washing before the grace after meals (mayim achronim). However, it is proper for anyone who fears G-d to care in this regard.

[One need not wash the entire hand.] It is sufficient to wash until the second joint of the fingers. One should point one's hands downward before drying them [to let the water drip off]. The person who leads the grace should wash his hands first.*

* { If there are more than five people present, the person leading the grace should be the fifth from the last to wash (Shulchon Oruch, Orach Chayim 181:6). Thus, he will not have to wait long before beginning the grace.}

2. One should not wash one's hands over the ground where people walk, because of the spirit of impurity which rests upon the water. Rather, one should wash into a receptacle or under the table. Afterwards, one should dry one's hands and then begin the grace after meals. No, interruption should be made between washing and grace.

3. The tablecloth and the bread should not be removed until after the recitation of the grace after meals, in order for a loaf of bread to be on the table while the grace is recited.* This demonstrates how we have been granted abundant blessings from G-d, blessed be His name, to eat and to leave over, as Elisha told his attendant: "Thus G-d says, ' They will eat and leave over'" (II Kings 3:43). Furthermore, a blessing cannot rest within a void, but only where there is some substance, as evident from Elisha's question to Ovadiah's wife: "What do you have at home?" (II Kings 4:2).

* {The Shulchon Oruch, Orach Chayim 180:3 mentions that it is improper to bring an entire new loaf to bread, for this resembles an idolatrous practice.}

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