Concept

Ritual washing in Judaism

Summary
In Judaism, ritual washing, or ablution, takes two main forms. Tevilah (טְבִילָה) is a full body immersion in a mikveh, and netilat yadayim is the washing of the hands with a cup (see Handwashing in Judaism). References to ritual washing are found in the Hebrew Bible, and are elaborated in the Mishnah and Talmud. They have been codified in various codes of Jewish law and tradition, such as Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century) and Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch (16th century). These practices are most commonly observed within Orthodox Judaism. In Conservative Judaism, the practices are normative, with certain leniencies and exceptions. Ritual washing is not generally performed in Reform Judaism. The Hebrew Bible requires immersion of the body in water as a means of purification in several circumstances, for example: And when the zav is cleansed of his issue, then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes; and he shall bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean. There are also references to hand-washing: And whoever the zav touches, without having rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. I will wash my hands in innocency; so will I compass Thine altar, O LORD. Priests were required to wash their hands and feet before service in the Temple: Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, whereat to wash; and thou shalt put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. And Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat; when they go into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to cause an offering made by fire to smoke unto the LORD. Handwashing in Judaism According to halakha or custom, the hands are washed on a number of occasions. These include before and after eating a meal with bread; upon awaking in the morning; after using the toilet; before eating karpas in the Passover seder; and before prayer.
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