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    Washing before bread – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why do we have to wash our hands before eating bread?

    A. The ritual washing followed by the blessing al n’tillat yadayim is for holiness, not for cleanliness. If one’s hands are not clean they have to be washed first. The ritual washing follows the example of the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. Like them we are ministering to God. We are “a kingdom of priests and a holy people” (Ex. 19:6). Even eating is part of our spiritual life and through washing the hands prepares us to eat our food in purity.

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