4. Washing Hands upon Arising
1:7 There is a collection of prayers known as ma’amados. Those who recite them should conclude the prayers with, “Blessed are You, Who hears prayers” (without the Name of God). If we hear someone conclude with the Name of God, we should strongly inform them that this is incorrect (and therefore an unnecessary utterance of God’s Name).
2:1 As we mentioned in 1:2, every day upon arising, a person is like a new creation. For this reason, we must wash our hands each morning immediately after awakening before we can begin our daily service of God. This is comparable to the way in which the kohanim (priests) sanctified their hands each day before beginning the Temple service. (Refer to Psalms 26:6: “I will wash my hands in innocence so that I might go around Your altar, God.”) Additionally, sleep has an aspect of death to it (see Talmud Brachos 57b). Accordingly, there is a spiritual impurity related with sleep that must be cleansed through ritual hand-washing. This is accomplished by pouring water three times over each hand in an alternating fashion. One should not walk more than four paces (about six feet) before washing if not absolutely necessary. If one needs to go where the water is, that’s okay, though many have the practice to keep water near the beds to obviate the need to do so.