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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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Discussion (20)
February 10, 2015
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.
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?
Jesse Corey
November 17, 2014
Re: Losing Privileges
No, you should still wash your hands as soon as possible.
Eliezer Zalmanov
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?
Jesse Corey
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.
Valley Village, CA
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.
February 11, 2014
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.
Yisroel Cotlar
February 6, 2014
washing hands..
When does the water need to be removed? How many hand washings is allowed before removal of old water?
Amichai Schneller
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.
Yehuda Shurpin for
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?