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Why the Open Hands at Ashrei?

Why the Open Hands at Ashrei?

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Question:

Why do some people open their hands during the Ashrei prayer?

Answer:

According to the Talmud1, this prayer is recited three times every day partly because it contains the verse “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” It is while reciting this verse that many people lift their hands to G-d.

This custom is common in the Sephardic communities. Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (known as the Ben Ish Chai) explains that people lift their open palms heavenward to reflect their spiritual channel above as it receives the divine flow.2

Lifting our hands in this fashion has a long history in Jewish tradition. When Moses promised Pharaoh to stop the catastrophic hail falling over Egypt, he said, “I will spread my hands to G-d.”3

We see the same in the prayers of King Solomon: “As Solomon finished praying all this prayer and supplication to G-d…with his hands spread out toward heaven.”4

Mrs. Rochel Chein

FOOTNOTES
1. Berachot 4b.
2. Ben Ish Chai, Shanah Rishonah, Miketz.
3. Exodus 9:29.
4. Kings I, 8:54.
Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (6)
May 10, 2009
Hand during Poteach...
In Chabad tradition, we take our right hand and touch our arm Tefillin, then our head Tefillin, then eyes, and kiss, while we recite this verse
Michoel
May 10, 2009
opening hands
Actually I know that halacha is you have to concentrate with concentration when you say that verse and if you did not concentrate, then you have to repeat it.
Opening the hands is a custom based on teachings in the Zohar. Sephardim do base most of their customs on kabbalistic ideas.
I do not know why Chabad does not do this in particular but perhaps the concentration on that verse accomplishes the same idea: to make a keli to receive the blessings.
I guess opening the hands is the same concept: it enhances one's concentration.
Gila
May 8, 2009
It is not a Chabad custom.This custom I have seen it only among sepharadim
Uri
May 8, 2009
More from Ben Ish Hai
Rabbenu HaBen Ish Hai says in Parashat Wayigash, (not Miqetz), citing the Zohar, that when spreading out your hands, it is important not to lift your hands above your head.
Ariel
New Jersey
May 7, 2009
Why the Open Hands at Ashrei
Hi i still dont get it.
so if when we say Ashrey and dont open hands we're not conecting with G-d??
why some people make sure not to open hands??

i will wait for email response.
Thanks
Ruben
May 5, 2009
Mrs. Chein,
I am wondering if this is a chabad custom?
H
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