Vol 31.28 - Tisa 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5749 Vol. XXXI,31 Pg 184)
1. Rambam writes in Hilchot Tefilah (4:1)
“Five things prevent one from praying, even though the time (for prayer) has arrived:
Moreover, further on he explains:
“When do the above statements apply, meaning that one requires the purification of one’s hands alone for prayer - to the other services, excluding the (Shacharit) Morning Prayer. However, for the Morning Prayer, one should wash his face, hands, and feet, and afterwards pray”.
Ra’avad in his critique on Rambam states: “I do not know why (he mentions) feet”.
The Migdal Oz writes regarding the Ra’avad’s comment:
“And I, his student, find that it is learned in a Beraita, in the last topic of the chapter, ‘Bameh Tomenin – (במה טומנין – Shabbatt 50b): ‘A person must wash his face, his hands, and his feet every day for the sake of his Maker, as it is stated: ‘The L-rd has made everything for His own purpose’ (Proverbs 16:4)”.
The Kesef Mishneh writes on this:
“It appears to me that Ra’avad did not overlook this Beraita . . for this Beraita is not speaking with regard to prayer, but rather to the aspect whether it is permissible to wash one’s face and feet to beautify oneself, like Rashi’s explanation.”
According to this, the debate between Rambam and Ra’avad is in the explanation of the aforementioned Beraita.
The Acharonim (Later Sages) come to explain Rambam’s view according to the early handwritten version of tractate Shacharit in the Talmud, as it states:
“A person must wash . .his face, his hands, and his feet . .because it states: “prepare yourself to meet your G-d, O Israel . . “The L-rd has made everything for His own purpose.”
They maintain that this was the version that Rambam used, namely that this washing is for the purpose of “prepare yourself to meet your G-d, O Israel”. Therefore, he explains that the Beraita refers to prayer.
Whereas, for Ra’avad, the version that was before him, was like our versions that just cite the verse “The L-rd has made everything for His own purpose”. Therefore, he explains that the intent of the Beraita is not with regard to the obligation before prayer, but rather the permissibility (היתר) to adorn oneself.
One must understand:
(like that which is brought in the Pirush (Teshuvot) HaGeonim and in the sefarim of the students of Rashi),
similar to what he cites, further on, with regard to the prayers of a Ba’al Keri (one who has a nocturnal emission)?
2. The Responsa v’Shav HaKohen (R’ Refael HaKohen, talmid of the Shaagas Aryeh) explains that Rambam’s reason is like the words of the Rashba who writes with regard to the difference between the Shacharit prayers versus the Mincha and Arvit prayers that:
“Since in the morning we are made like a new creation, as it states “They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness”, Therefore we are required to praise Him, may He be blessed, for creating us for His glory, and to serve Him and bless in His name. Concerning this, all those blessings that we bless each and every morning were enacted. Therefore, we are required to sanctify with His sanctity and to wash our hands from a vessel like the Kohen who sanctifies his hands from the Kiyor before his service”.
According to this, it is explained that, “since every Kohen must sanctify his hands and feet before the Avodah in the morning, therefore, one must wash his hands and feet before the morning prayers. In addition, since once the Kohen who serves, washes his hands in the morning, he does not need to sanctify them the rest of the day, therefore, only the washing of the hands was enacted for the other prayers, since the hands are perpetually moving”.
(According to this, he writes there that the version of the Rambam is “washing hands and feet”, omitting the word “and face”, for the Kohen just sanctifies the hands and feet. This is also apparent from the comments of the Ra’avad who objects just to the “feet” and not with regard to Rambam’s stating “and the face”).
The law of washing the hands before prayer, from the reasoning of the Rashba, is cited by the Alter Rebbe in Shulchan Aruch in Hilchot Netilat Yadayim:
“When one gets up in the morning, whether he relieves himself or not, he must wash his hands . . from a container. (This applies) even if he does not desire to pray until several hours later, For when the Holy One, blessed be He, restores one’s soul, he becomes like a newly-created being, as in the verse, “They are new every morning...”. For (upon retiring at night) a person entrusts his weary soul to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who returns it to him (when he rises in the morning) renewed and rested, so that he can serve G-d with all his ability and serve Him throughout that day — ‘for this is the entire purpose of man’. Therefore, we must sanctify ourselves in His holiness and wash our hands from a container in order to carry out His service and minister to Him, like a Kohen who would sanctify his hands from the Kiyor (in the Beit HaMikdash) every day before (beginning) his service.”
From the Alter Rebbe’s words, namely that the obligation of this washing applies “even if he does not desire to pray until many hours later”, proves that this washing is not pertinent to prayers, but rather that it is preparation to the general service (כללות עבודת השי"ת) to G-d – “this entire day”
(This is also understood from the Alter Rebbe’s citing this Halacha in Hilchot Netilat Yadayim, not like Rambam who cites in the Hilchot Tefilah).
An additional difference is found in the Alter Rebbe’s words with regarding to those of Rambam:
One could say that these two differences are dependent upon each other, as will be explained.
3. The obligation of
contains two aspects:
“This washing was out of reverence for Him who is on high, for whoever approaches the King’s table to serve . . washes his hands because ‘hands are busy’ etc.“
One could say that included in this is not just literal cleanliness, but even the aspect of purity. This is like purity from defilement that is effected with Tevilah (immersing in a Mikvah).
According to this, the sanctifying of the hands and feet is similar to the aspect of Tevilah, namely that it is required before entering the Azarah to perform the Avodah, even if he is ritually pure (tahor).
One could say that the difference between them is:
(The feet are just like an aid – for one must stand on the floor etc.)
(One could say that these two aspects are alluded to the two verses in the Parsha:
The second verse refers to the law of purification in the sanctifying of the hands and feet. Therefore, it states “hands and feet” together without a pause. For the aspect of purification is like one body and entity.
Whereas the first verse refers to the aspect of holiness. In this is states “Aharon and his sons will wash from it their hands and their feet. (with the word “v’et” between the words hands and feet).
For the hands and feet are not in the scope of one entity, and the sanctifying of the feet comes as an addition to the sanctifying of the hands)
4. One could say that this is the difference between the Halacha in Rambam (according to the explanation of the Responsa of v’Shav HaKohen) and the law in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch:
In this, he adds that for the morning prayer, it is not sufficient to just purify one’s hands. Rather there must also be the washing (of the face and) the feet, like the sanctifying of the hands and feet of the Kohen before his service in the Temple.
One could say that the foundation of the difference between them is:
One could say that the foundation of the difference between the law of purification in the sanctifying of the hands and feet and the law of holiness within it, is:
The law of purification is mainly due to the person (Gavra). For one who is not pure is not fitting to perform the Avodah. Whereas, the law of holiness is due to the holiness of the Temple. For before one enters or preforms an Avodah in the Temple, there must be the condition of extra holiness (קדושה יתירה).
This is the reason that Rambam maintains that the washing of the hands etc., before prayer is just similar (מעין) to the scope of the purification in the sanctifying of the hands and feet of the Kohen. For although prayer is in the place of the Korbanot, it does not draw down through it holiness, like in the Temple. The commonality (השוואה) is just due to the person, namely that the Avodah of one who prays is like the Avodah of one who offers a korban.
“a person entrusts his weary soul to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who returns it to him renewed and rested, so that he can serve G-d with all his ability and serve Him throughout that day — ‘for this is the entire purpose of man’. Therefore, we must sanctify ourselves in His holiness and wash our hands from a container in order to carry out His service and minister to Him”.
Because of this reason, he maintains that this washing does not have relation to the scope of purification. For the scope of purification is possible just as a preparation to a specific Avodah (prayer, Torah study, the performance of a Mitzvah, and so forth). Whereas, due to a person’s serving G-d “throughout the day — ‘for this is the entire purpose of man’”, which includes all of his deeds during the course of the day,
(Also including “all one’s deeds for the sake of Heaven” so much so that (in Rambam’s words, he) “serves G-d constantly”) –
therefore he maintains that this is similar to the law of holiness in the sanctifying of the hand feet. For the aspect of this holiness, is not to purify oneself, to separate, from his previous condition, in order to enable him to serve and minister. Rather that it is like the preparation (הכשרה) to service and ministering.
5. It was previously cited, that according to the widespread version of Rambam, it also mentions the washing of the face, which was not part of the sanctifying of the hands and feet of the kohanim in the Temple.
One could explain the difference (according to this version) between the washing before the Shacharit prayer (which includes also the washing of the face) and the washing of the hands and feet of the kohanim – according to Pnimiyut:
The difference between the face; and the hands and feet is that:
These aspects in Avodat HaAdam is:
One could say that this is the difference according to Rambam’s view (in this version) between the sanctifying of the hands and feet in the time of the Temple, before the Avodah of the Kohanim in the Temple, versus the washing that is a preparation and purification before the Shacharit prayer, that includes also the washing of the face:
In the time of the Temple, when the Avodah of Yisroel, in general, was proper (כדבעי). In other words, that the face – the inner powers of intellect and Middot, were constantly separated from mundane activities and the aspects of the world. And especially so for a Kohen who was separated to stand to serve before G-d – there was no need for the purification of the face, but rather just the sanctification and purification of the hands and feet. Namely, the external powers of the person, with which he eats and drinks – things that are connected with “your deeds”.
However, in the time of Galut, and in each of Yisroel who is obligated in prayers, one must rectify the aspect of purification even for those people whose dealings with the aspects of the world are in a manner where they place, even their mind and heart, into it – their Pnimiyut. Therefore, there must also be the purification of the face, the purification of the inner powers, each day before the morning prayer.
6. However, all this is according to Rambam where this washing is similar to the scope of the purification in the sanctifying of the hands and feet.
However, according to the Alter Rebbe who writes that,
“We must sanctify ourselves in His holiness . . in order to carry out His service and minister to Him”,
the scope of the holiness for the purpose of the general Avodah of the day, even in our times, there is no requirement to wash the face.
The explanation of this is:
This washing is immediately in the morning when one arises from his bed. Like the wording of the Alter Rebbe in the beginning of the section, which comes in continuation to the recital of:
“Modeh Ani -“I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; great is Your faithfulness.”
that even though, the reason, simply, that this recital may be said with impure hands is “there is no sanctity in the words of this text, since they do not include any Divine name”, it is explained in another place that the inner reason for this is because all the impurities in the world are not able to defile the “Modeh Ani” (the essence of Judaism) of a Jew (Yehudi). For even one is lacking in this aspect or in another aspect, nevertheless his “Modeh Ani” constantly remains whole.
In other words, the thanks with the recital of the “Modeh Ani” has its roots in the simple will () of each and every one of Yisroel. It is constantly within the soul of a Jew, whoever he is, and in whatever condition he is found. This is like the well-known ruling of Rambam, that each Jew constantly wants to fulfill the will of his Master.
This aspect is emphasized immediately when one arises from his sleep since,
“For each person, when the Holy One, blessed be He, restores one’s soul, he becomes like a newly-created being, as in the verse, “They are new every morning...”. For a person entrusts his weary soul to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who returns it to him renewed and rested, so that he can serve G-d with all his ability and serve Him throughout that day — ‘for this is the entire purpose of man’.”
In other words, each person of Yisroel, immediately when he rises from his sleep is prepared to serve G-d with all of his ability and to minister to Him the entire day.
(This is the essence of the Modeh Ani recital, namely to “immediately contemplate before Who he is lying – before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He”, as it states, “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth etc.?” So too, one must contemplate in all of his dealings and aspects” for “this is a cardinal principle in the Torah and among the attributes of the righteous who walk before G-d, as it states, “I have placed G-d before me constantly”. In other words, one must act accordingly the entire day”)
Therefore, there is no need here for the aspect of purification of the sanctifying of the hands and feet (since it is similar to something that is not susceptible to impurity (דבר שאין מקבל טומאה). (For example – everything in the sea”). Rather, it is just a boundary of holiness. In other words, that this time and preparation of a person to serve and minister to G-d must come to deed – to “sanctify with His sanctity” in actuality. Therefore, there is no need nor place for the washing of the face.
MSichas Chai Elul 5745, Shacharit Parshat Devarim 5746
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