You're up, you're dressed, you even thanked G‑d for returning your soul—what more do we want? Wait: Did you wash your hands before getting out of bed?
- In the Holy Temple, the priests would wash their hands before their daily service. Every individual is a priest in the temple of his or her home and heart.
- While the body rests, the soul ascends heavenward to recharge. Only the most basic soul-powers are left in place—those required for basic bodily functions. The resulting void allows for a negative spiritual state called tumah. Upon awakening, we wash our hands to remove the remaining vestiges of that tumah.
- During the night, the hands often touched private areas; we therefore wash before praying.
- Before sleep, prepare a cup of water and an empty basin and place it beside your bedBefore sleep, prepare a cup of water and an empty basin and place it beside (not beneath) your bed.
- When you wake, after reciting the Modeh Ani, wash the right hand until the wrist and then the left hand; repeat, and then repeat again. This washing is called Netilat Yadayim (or, in Yiddish, Negel Vasser).
- Say the blessing: Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.
- Discard the water ASAP.
- Chabad custom: After washing hands, getting dressed, and using the restroom, wash a second time (using same procedure) at a sink, and only then recite the blessing—in a more presentable state of mind and body. (Note: Water should be poured on to the hands from a vessel, not a faucet.)
- Before Netilat Yadayim we do not: walk four cubits (approx 6 feet); touch clothing, food, or any body orifice; recite any blessings or prayer.
- Didn't wash at your bedside? Wash at first possible opportunity.
- Wash anytime you sleep more than 60 minutes. If it's a daytime nap, no need to prepare the water beforehand, just walk to nearest sink—and no blessing.