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Clean Feet

The Rambam writes that a person should wash his face and his feet every day before prayer (Hilchos Tefillah 4,3). As with the halachah of washing one’s face, the Shulchan Aruch does not cite this ruling. According to some opinions, washing one’s feet is not required today, because people no longer walk barefoot (Mishnah Berurah 4,2)

Kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash simultaneously washed their hands and feet before they began their service, and the Rashba understands that the reason we wash our hands every morning is in order to emulate the kohanim. In this vein we should seemingly wash our feet as well. However, the comparison between the kohanim and ourselves is only a partial one, and therefore the Shulchan Aruch does not obligate one to wash his feet (Responsa Noda B’Yehudah, Orach Chaim 2,140).

I was once at a mikvah where I saw one of the great halachic authorities of our generation drying his feet with tremendous concentration. I wondered why he put so much effort into it, but did not have the courage to ask him. Afterwards, I learned that the halachah warns that a person who does not dry his feet sufficiently be¬fore putting on his shoes is in danger of losing his vision (Shulchan Aruch Harav, Shemiras Haguf V’Hanefesh 9, citing Pesachim 111b).

Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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