Category Archives: Washing Hands
The body is the vehicle for the soul… It houses the awareness of the soul. Without the body the awareness/the soul would remain ephemeral, it would remain as merely a dis-embodied “spirit” trapped in the “spirit world”. The body is what allows the soul, spirit, and G!d to be manifest on Earth in materiality. It is in fact the entire purpose of creation… And as humans (and especially as Jews) it is our role/job to help actualize this manifestation, to be co-creators at this point in the process of creation.
We do this by grounding our spiritual awareness’ in our bodies, and this is the point of wrapping t’phillin, of doing an yoga asana practice, of blessing food before and after eating it, of washing our hands in the morning (n’telat yadaim), of wearing tzitzit and so on. The main point: Unite the soul with the body.
When the two seemingly opposite poles of heaven and earth, soul and body come together there is an indescribable enlightenment and bliss which occurs and this is the purpose of creation.
Washing my hands in the morning (n’telat yadayim) can be such a powerful practice. After sleeping, which is considered one-sixtieth of death (talmud b’rachot, 57b), and is a state of semi-unconsciousness, to immediately wash ones hands upon rising and say a brachah can help one directly tap back into the G!d Realm, to ones purpose one earth. When we sleep, we dream, and our dreams can take us to many different realms; they can lead us high and they can lead us low. When we are working on maintaining a spiritual self, our dreams can be a place of release, a place we can revert to old habits, non-soul directed habits; The practice of washing one’s hands upon rising can help realign one’s self to Divine Will and start one’s day in a holy and connected way.
Throughout the Jewish tradition water is considered a substance of/for purification. Women and men both immerse themselves in the mikveh, ritual bath of water, to purify themselves. Doing n’telat yadayim can help shift our consciousness from taking water for granted and seeing it as a mundane/normal, to connecting us with the power and true awesomeness of this holy substance.
When I wash my hands I like to think of myself as an animal washing its “paws” with this amazing life-giving liquid of purification; I then say the barachah of n’telat yadayim, which says, “Blessed are you YKVK, our G!d, Master of the Universe, that you made us holy with your mitzvot (commandments/connectors), and commanded us to wash our hands. So, as I see it, through this mitzvah of n’telat yadayim we are bringing the body from a state of un-holiness, unconsciousness, or impurity, to a state of holiness, soul-consciousness and purity. A perfect way to start the day : )