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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Clean Hands- a Poem

The song of the day speaks about

Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? and who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not taken My name in vain, and hath not sworn deceitfully.

Perhaps it is no accident that we read these words in the song of the day. There is a whole lot of hand washing that takes place in your life if you are following the rules of the road in Judaism.

Let's list when Jews wash:

Before eating a meal that involves bread

After eating a meal that involves bread (Mayim Achronim)

When waking up in the morning

Before praying

Before eating dipped fruit and vegetables (think the Passover Seder!!)

Before Kohanim do the priestly blessings

After using the bathroom complete with the most interesting blessing of them all, the Asher Yatzar blessing.

After leaving a funeral

That's a lot of time washing our hands. Plain and simple, a good idea. An idea that we are hearing about abundantly these days. Probably more in the past week than we have heard the phrase during our lifetimes. Judaism has been promoting the idea for millennia. A good and practical idea.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to make us understand the words differently, more completely.

So wash. Wash thoroughly.

Clean Hands


As though your life depends upon it

Every finger

Every joint

Wrinkles and crevices

Pores and hairs

Knuckles and veins

Joined in the water dance

Up and Down

Top and Bottom

Back and forth

Round and round


Round and round again

Like the water libation

Sing as you pour

Let the water run

Over you

Cleansing you


Like your mom taught you

Like your teacher urged you

Like the doctor pleads with you

Like the torah says

Water and soap

Massage out the old

and bring in the new

Cleanliness is Godliness, no?

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