Urchatz – a Reminder to Sanctify Our Actions
We wash our hands before dipping the karpas into salt water as was the custom in earlier times to ritually wash the hands before eating bread or any food that would be dipped into liquid. Why did the rabbis enact a law that requires washing of the hands and not any other part of the body? They were very clear to tell us that it is not for physical cleanliness as we are already expected to take measures to ensure that our bodies are clean and healthy.
One explanation is that the hands represent “action” and “doing.” In fact, the Torah tells us “הַקֹל קוֹל יַֽעֲקֹב וְהַיָדַיִם יְדֵי עֵשָׂו” “the voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau.” Esau’s name in Hebrew is the same as the word “to do” and hands are synonymous with doing and action. Most of the actions that we take or things that we do involve our hands in some capacity. Therefore, the rabbis required each person to wash their hands prior to eating these types of food so that it would remind us that we need to use our hands in holy and correct ways and that we should strive to have actions that bring us closer to God.
Questions for Thought or Discussion
What actions do you take for your recovery or self improvement?
What actions do you find resistance in taking?
What tools could you use to help you when you encounter resistance?
What actions do you take to become closer to God or to feel more spiritual?