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


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