We learn in Exodus 30:18 that God commands Aaron and his sons to “wash their hands and feet” before stepping into the Tent of Meeting. Jewish tradition calls for us to wash our hands every morning and recite the blessing Netilat Yadayim. It is a ritual that reflects the importance of water’s renewing effects on the soul. We are also required to wash our hands and say the blessing before eating any meal that includes bread or matzoh. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that because the 28 joints in our two hands match the gematria of the word koach (strength), we engage our hands for holy means and bring divine energy to that moment.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה הָ׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kidshanu B’mitzvotav Vitzivanu al Netilat Yadayim
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with mitzvot, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.
A Blessing for Washing Hands During a Pandemic
Every day we are told the same thing again and again. Wash your hands. Count to 20 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice. There’s got to be a better way. One that’s way more fulfilling – and even prayerful. Post this prayer by Trisha Arlin next to your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Make those 20 seconds count!
As we wash our hands
Blessed is the Soul of the Universe,
Breathing us in and breathing us out.
May our breaths continue
And our health and the health of all
In this time of sickness and fear of sickness.
We take as much responsibility for this as we can
By observing the obligation to wash our hands
For as long as it takes to say this prayer.