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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 18:14:31 -0500 (EST) Subject: When Washing Requires a Utensil Janet Rosenbaum in v30n80 asks about the reason for requiring a cup for Mayim Acharonim. My opinion is that Mayim acharonim does NOT require a cup. This was already echoed by Eitan Fiorino in v30n90 I think this is a good example of what happens when reasons are added to laws to embellish them. Let us 1st review the laws of washing hands. The laws are clearly summarized in Rambam Blessings Chapter 6. The following salient points are relevant --6:3 Mayim Acharonim is because of DANGER (of rubbing your eyes and abrasing them with salt). This is distinguished from other washings that are rabbinic institutions to symbolically remind us of the laws of tahara (purity) --6:6-Washings due to purity require 4 items--a) Valid water b) Sufficient volume c) from a vessel d) poured by human force Clearly we do NOT require "sufficient volume" in Mayim acharonim because they are not symbolic washings but actual washings to remove abrasive salt. So too there is no need for a utensil..for the washing is not symbolic but functional. The proof for this is that ordinary washing does not require a utensil if eg it is done by placing ones hands in a mikveh(6:4) I think the Rambam and Gmarrah are clear on the fact that mayim acharonim is for reasons of DANGER. If there are later authorities (than the Gmarrah and early rishonim) that bring down other reasons for Mayim acharonim then we have to be clear that this is not the original reason Next to Eitan's question about washing for the Karpas. He is 100% correct (that we shoulnd't wash). However there is a principle on Pesach to do as many peculiar things as possible so as to arouse curiosity in the children. In other words we deliberately wash when we are not required to in order to get the children to ask questions about washing hands. In fact Eitan's excellent posting shows what a delightful seder tip this is at it can generate excellent Torah. Russell Hendel; Math; Towson University Moderator Rashi Is SImple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/