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 KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

In A Theatre Near You
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Ideas for Inspiration
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

Tzedakah vs. Charity: What is the difference?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

> First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Parashat Haazinu
Shlomo Katz - 5764

A "Beautiful" Insight
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Distance
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Successful Search
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Those are the Questions?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Joyful Service
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

The Art of the Deal and It's Impact
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Parshat Ki Tavo
Shlomo Katz - 5764

ArtScroll

A Time to Remember and Be Inspired
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Happy To Please
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Teshuva—Paradigm Shift
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

The Epitome of G-d's Kindness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755



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