This note was written during the latter portion of 5710, in response to a question posed by the great scholar, R. Chayim Naeh, concerning a statement by the Rebbe Rayatz in one of his letters (Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz,Vol. I, Letter No. 100). There the Rebbe Rayatz writes that chassidim universally adopted the custom of picking up the vessel used for washing one’s hands in the right hand, transferring it to the left hand, and then pouring it over the right hand. R. Chayim Naeh objected to the wording used by the Rebbe Rayatz “accepted the custom,” noting that in fact this is an explicit law stated in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch, Mahadura Kama, 4:10, based on the Zohar, as quoted by the Beis Yosef. Why then did the Rebbe Rayatz refer to it as custom? The Rebbe offered the following explanation in reply.

Perhaps the intent is that they actually conduct themselves in this manner. For “deed is the most prominent [determining factor],” as reflected in our Sages’ statements (Bava Basra 130b).

[Alternatively,] perhaps, while the letter was copied, the words, “three times, alternating between one and the other,” were omitted (after the words, “on the right hand first”). [Stating that this is] the practice of the chassidim indicates that one should not follow the authorities who maintain that one should wash [each hand three times] consecutively. (These opinions are collected in the text Shaarei Tefillah by R. Yaakov Rokeiach, p. 4.) Nor should one follow the authorities who maintain that [one should wash] four times (the custom of the Vilna Gaon and the Rebbe of Munkatsch, the author of Minchas Elazar).