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Why does one wait until after the hands are washed before reciting the blessing?

by Rabbi Shalom Hazan


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Although in general blessings are recited before actually performing a Mitzvah (e.g. before putting on Tefillin, before lighting the Chanukah candles), the Mitzvah of Netilat Yadayim (washing hands) is an exception.

Often times one's hands may be unclean before Netilat Yadayim; therefore we wait until afterwards to say the blessing. Furthermore, drying one's hands is also part of the Mitzvah (when washing for bread), so the blessing does precede at least part of the Mitzvah.

See also Why do we close our eyes when we light the Shabbat Candles?

Source: Shulchan Aruch Harav 158:16.


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Mitzvot » Blessings
Daily Life » Waking Up

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.