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The Laws Upon Awakening in the Morning

The Laws Upon Awakening in the Morning


Upon Awakening

• When one awakens in the morning, one must immediately recognize and appreciate the kindness G‑d has done with them. Not only has G‑d returned the soul which had been entrusted to Him the night before, He's returned the soul refreshed and rejuvenated, unlike the tired and weary soul which had been given over the previous night. Hence, while still in bed, even before he washes his hands, he should say Modeh Ani - "I offer thanks to you..." Since the Modeh Ani does not contain G‑d's name, one is permitted to say it before washing their hands. By saying Modeh Ani immediately upon awakening, he will realize that G‑d is in his midst and will immediately get out of bed and prepare himself for the service of G‑d1.

The Modeh Ani prayer:

Transliteration: Modeh Ani Lefonecha Melech Chai Vikayom, Shehechezarta Bi Nishmasi Bechemlah. Rabah Emunashecho.

Translation: I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great

• When saying the Modeh Ani in the morning, one must make sure to make a slight pause between the words "bechemlah" - "...within me" and "rabah" - "Your faithfulness2."

Washing the Hands

• One should not walk more then four cubits from his bed before washing his hands upon arising in the morning (Netilat Yadayim or Negel Vasser)3. Many have the custom not to touch their clothes or walk even the four cubits from their bed. To be able to do this, many prepare on the side of their beds water in a cup and basin prior to retiring at night. The Alter Rebbe writes that one who is G‑d fearing should follow the directives of the Zohar.

• Prior to washing one's hands in the morning one should not touch the following with his hands: His mouth, eyes, nose, ears or any other part of the body which has openings. Neither should one touch food or drink and clothing. Women in particular must be careful in regard to touching food prior to washing their hands, since they handle most of the food at home. Likewise, one must be very cautious not to dip his fingers inadvertently into the water he will be using for the washing of their hands, because by dipping the unwashed finger into the water he has made the water unclean and unfit for washing4.

• Generally, nowadays, one is lenient in regard to using foods which have been handled by people before washing their hands in the morning, since there are so many people who are not careful with washing their hands properly, and much of the commercially sold products have this problem5.

Saying G‑d's Name

• One should not say any blessings or pronounce G‑d's name without first washing out one's mouth, since one accumulates saliva in his mouth during sleeping6.

• In the morning, after one washes ones hands upon arising, one does not say the blessing of "Al Netilat Yadaim" immediately. Rather, they should rinse their mouth first. Additionally, since it's normal for one to have to relieve oneself upon awakening, one should first use the bathroom and upon leaving the bathroom, wash his hands a second time and only then say the blessing.

The Blessing:

Transliteration: Boruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Vi-tzi-vo-nu Al Ne-Ti-Lat Ya-Dayim.

Translation: 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.

• If he does not need to relieve himself, then he should try to say the the blessing as close in time to the washing of his hands the first time7.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:2, Ketzos HaShulchan 1:6.
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1:2. Teachers who teach and say the Modeh Ani to their students in a song format should make sure that the tune they use does not put the words Bechemlah and Rabba together and then leave the word Emunasecha as an orphaned word.
The Chachmei HaZohar, Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch O.C. 1:7.
Ketzos HaShulchan 2:2.
However, one who can be strict with himself should try to avoid purchasing foods from people who one definitely knows about them that they do not wash their hands properly (Badei Hashulchan 2:7).
Ktzos HaShulchan 2:10.
Ktzos HaShulchan 2:9.
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Angel Fontana ca October 25, 2017

Does hashem discipline us by allowing us to drop objects ( keys tools etc.?) Reply

Jesse Corey August 22, 2017

Is it OK to change out of pajamas into regular clothes before morning hand washing? I was on a trip in Israel which had Torah study. We studied about washing hands after waking up. My Minhag is to say the Shema as instructed by my Rabbi when I was studying for my Bar Mitzvah. I announced that I had a different Minhag and a counselor asked me to begin washing the following morning. I have not yet begun washing if I ever do begin.

Thank you very much Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for August 28, 2017
in response to Jesse Corey:

Everyone should follow his own custom, but the general rule is that it's always better to wash earlier than too late. That's why many people will wash twice, once right when waking up and then again before praying. Reply

Anonymous February 10, 2015

BPH With His infinite wisdom, mercy, and sense of humor, HaShem has gifted me for several years now with a medical condition that has me rising every 90 to 120 minutes all night long (and I'm on the maximum legal medication and I've been advised that surgery won't help). Do I say Modeh Ani 6 or 7 times a night? Seems almost like wasting a blessing. Reply

Jesse Corey November 18, 2014

Re: Losing Privileges I'm sorry, but my custom after waking up in the morning is to say the bedtime Shema because that's what my rabbi told me to do before my Bar Mitzvah. Was he mistaken and I should change my custom? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for November 17, 2014

Re: Losing Privileges No, you should still wash your hands as soon as possible. Reply

Jesse Corey November 16, 2014

Losing Privileges If you walk more than 4 cubits, or touch yourself or food or clothing or mention God's name, do you lose your washing privileges that morning and skip the hand-washing for that morning? Reply

Naomi Valley Village, CA via August 27, 2014

awakening from a day time nap I am trying to learn if we say modah ani when awakening but it is not the morning.

Thank you. Reply

Anonymous February 25, 2014

Thank you! I am a girl who has been observant from birth. Somehow, I never got these laws clear. Thank you so much for this article, it really helped me. Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary February 11, 2014

Re: We should not re-use water that one has already washed with.

Since we are instructed to wash the entire hands, there is usually no water left in the cup but if it was a big cup that would be enough for two people, there is no problem with more than one person using that same cup.

The water, though, should be removed right afterwards. Reply

Amichai Schneller February 6, 2014

washing hands.. When does the water need to be removed? How many hand washings is allowed before removal of old water? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for September 30, 2013

Re: Hand washing If one just woke momentarily in the middle of the night, there are those who are lenient and hold that one need not wash their hands, others however have the custom to be strict and wash their hands even in that situation. A women may make a blessing while her own head is uncovered. Reply

Anonymous September 24, 2013

Hand washing If one wakes momentarily during the night (e.g. a light sleeper ) but knows that one will fall asleep again in a few seconds/ minutes, is it still necessary to perform the hand washing? And is a woman required to cover her head when saying the blessings? Reply

Joshua Pearl London, England September 24, 2013

What, then, is the basis for the Yehi Ratzon and Anah Be'Cho'ach that are put afterwards? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for September 23, 2013

Re: Joshua Pearl The source for saying those verse is the Shalah Hakodesh (cited by Eliyah Rabah 162:1 and kaf hachaim 162:8). These verses are the source for not making an interruption between washing ones hands and making the blessing, as well as raising ones hands right after washing ( Talmud Yerushalmi Berochot ). Many (including chabad) do not say these verses since a) it is not mentioned by the Arizal (see Kaf Hachaim ibid) as well as the fact that many consider the recitation of these verses an interruption between the washing and the blessing. Those who say it follow the opinions that it is not an interruption. Reply

Joshua Pearl London, England September 22, 2013

In The Siddur Avodas Yisrael, it says to say two pessukim before Al Netilas YaDayim. What is the basis for this? Reply

Anonymous May 22, 2013

Hi, is this something women need to do also? Reply

loranzo arima, trinidad and tobago September 20, 2011

interesting i'm kinda like now getting into the jewish faith and this is so fascinating...... where can i learn more about the jews?..... can anyone tell me..? Reply

Ros manchester, england February 7, 2011

laws upon awakening I am reading this article in awe of all you good people and your respect and honour you show towards G-d. The more i learn about the your faith and ways the more I am sure you are the chosen people Reply

Menachem Posner for Montreal, QC February 1, 2011

RE: Netilat Yadayim One who wakes up before dawn should wash his hands a second time after day breaks. This time, however, he should not say the blessing. Reply

Mordechai Horowitz brooklyn, ny January 28, 2011

Netilat Yadayim If one wakes up before sunrise, should they wash a second time after sunrise? Reply

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