Text Study on Netilas Yadayim

What to Provide:

Copies of text study materials from the Compendium of Sources in Halacha and the Environment (available for purchase on Canfei Nesharim's website), articles on pages 45-53 and Hebrew texts on 74-75. Try to copy the text study materials on recycled paper.

The two articles express a makloches between two different positions about use of water for netilas yadayim. The first article suggests that we reduce our use to the minimum amount of water required (a rivies). The second article encourages washing with abundance but encourages reduction of water use through other actions.

Form community members into chavrusa pairs or small groups to learn the articles and Hebrew together. Depending on timing, allow 15-30 minutes for learning the texts. After the learning is completed, engage the community in a discussion.

Possible Discussion Questions

1. What is the minimum requirement for netilas yadayim? Were you surprised to learn that it is such a small quantity?
2. How does the idea of “b’shefa” affect this minimum? At what point does “b’shefa” turn into waste?
3. What do you think of the relative benefits of b’shefa and conservation in this mitzvah?
4. What other mitzvos are related to water? How do the ideas of conservation and abundance come into play in those mitzvos? Is our approach to netilas yadayim different? Why do you think so?
5. Which do you think is more valuable: the relatively small, but symbolic, water reductions in netilas yadayim, or choosing to save water in other ways?
6. Would saving water through netilas yadayim serve as a reminder that would encourage water savings in other areas?
7. Do you think that it would be appropriate to reduce use of water for netilas yadayim in our community?
8. What other actions can we take to avoid wasting or polluting our water in our homes?
9. What other actions can we take to avoid wasting or polluting our water in our synagogue or school?

This content originated at Canfei Nesharim.org.

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