awakening from sleep, we resume our life’s journey. From the moment that the
holy Jewish soul is returned to the body, a fresh opportunity is presented to
actualize our lifelong process of growth. How do we achieve this lofty goal?
The Rabbis (Chazal)
explain that sleep is the period of time when our soul (the neshama) ascends to
the supernal realms. The vacuum left behind causes a temporary influx of what
we call – tum’ah – spiritual impurity. Upon awakening this tum’ah recedes to our
hands with our sages giving us the knowledge of how to remove it by
re-sanctifying our hands.
But even before we do that, t he
first thing we do in the morning is say “modeh ani”, proclaiming our
humble gratitude to our Creator for showing His confidence in us by restoring
our soul to our body, giving us another day of life in which to fulfill Torah
and mitzvoth. We surely appreciate that the renewal of our life each day is a
gift — a fresh opportunity to actualize our lifelong process of spiritual
growth. How do we achieve this lofty
goal in a practical way? We will look a bit more deeply into the
spiritual connection between our voices (in which we start the day with “mode
ani…” and our hands(that we wash in a uniaque fashion).
explains that the hands represent the earthly power and might that lie within
the domain of Yaakov Avinu’s brother Eisav; but the voice, which emanates from the
realm of the soul lies within the domain of Yaakov.
When Yaakov approached Yitzchok for his
brachos, Yitzchok touched him and felt the “hands of Eisav” but heard the “voice
of Yaakov”, and thus made the immortal declaration: “…hakol
kol Yaakov —- ve hayadayim yedai Eisav.” (Toldos 27: 22)
more deeply into these words, we come to learn that, according to the Malbim, Hashem
desired that Yaakov be given both spiritual and material gifts and blessings, however,
material blessings would come to Yaakov not by means of natural cause and
effect, but only through hashgacha, through his voice – Torah and supplication
(tefillah). If however, G-d forbid, Torah learning and tefillah were to be diminished
then the flow of material blessings would also decrease.
Interestingly, the nusach of netillas
yadayim, the first blessing of the day, provides a profound insight: “Blessed ( or: The Source of all) are You,
Hashem, our G-d King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments,
and has commanded us on the washing –“netillas yadayim” – of the hands. Notably,
the Sages did not choose for this blessing the word “rechitza” meaning “washing”
but “netilla” meaning “taking”, as
in the bracha of the lulov where we say “al netillas lulav,” on the
taking of the lulov, Perhaps a deeper reason for the selection of this – nusach
that just as the mitzvah of lulov is accomplished through the act of “taking hold” of the lulov, so also do we achieve spiritual success
with the use of our hands – our ma’aseh yadayim – by “taking
hold of “ , i.e., controlling and directing our actions toward the fulfillment of the will
of Hashem. May we soon merit to raise our voices and
hands together in a unison greeting the Moshiach and the final redemption soon
in our days.
All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia
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