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 VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

A Dialog That Got To The Heart of The Matter
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

It's MY Business
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Chanaukah Lights
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Interpreting Dreams
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Jewish Renewal and Resilience
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

A Little Light Chases Away a Lot of Darkness
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

ArtScroll

Parashat Vayigash & the Fast of the 10th of Tebet
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

To Fergin or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Chanukah Oil: A Real No-Know
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

> How Extrordinary The Result
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5761

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

The Essence of Reproof
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Potentially
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Light Burst
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

The Wagons that Yosef Sent
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Horns and Hedonism
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763



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