Water for Hand-Washing - Purifying the Creative Work of our Hands

Haggadah Section: Urchatz

We ritually wash hands without reciting the blessing. The need for hand washing before eating vegetables is no longer a ritual requirement, however, it is included here in the traditional Seder.

Water is a symbol of life, because it nourishes all living things. It is used as a means of symbolic cleansing in a variety of settings. Ritually cleansing our hands is a symbol of the renewal of creation as well as a spiritual cleansing in preparation for the work of this Seder.

In lieu of the bracha let us add a kavanah , a word or concept, a poem or meditation, to "direct" our attention to the extraordinary holiness of an ordinary moment. Perhaps an appropriate translation would be "a focus."

Try one of these kavannot as you wash you hands this evening, or think of your own.

Water flows over these hands
May I use them skillfully
as I construct and shape the ritual work of this Seder [ based on a prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh ]


"May the favor of Adonai our God be upon us, let the work of our hands prosper, O prosper the work of our hands!" [Psalm 90:17]

Michael Strassfeld in "A Book of Life"

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