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Did you wash your face

Thursday, 16 March, 2017 - 10:35 am


I was recently reading a book which mentions micro expressions. Micro expressions - whether we live in China, Cuba, the USA or Canada, all of us express the same seven universal emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, contempt, and happiness. Research has revealed that these emotions are expressed by the fleeting emergence of micro expressions (an expression in milliseconds) on the face. 

Subsequently, I was reading a talk about the requirement, according to Maimonides, to wash one's face daily, prior to davening/praying (in addition to washing their hands and feet like the Cohen in the Temple). The reason given is that on a daily basis our actions involve the use of our hands. Yet, sometimes, we can allow our mundane activities to trickle inside of us which will affect us in our internal emotions and our subsequent micro expressions on our face. Hence, we must wash away not only our hands and feet to separate us from the external daily grind but also our face to wash away our being engrossed internally in the material world. Only after washing this all away, are we ready for a G-d focused service.

I found it interesting that this ruling, to wash the face, is not accepted by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. He holds that the daily preparation for prayer only includes the Modeh Ani prayer followed by the washing of the hands (details here). Why is that? Because the Modeh Ani prayer expresses a deep bond between G-d and His people, one that is not affected by our involvement in the mundane world and cannot become defiled. When a Jew says Modeh Ani, even if his face is ‘dirty’ from the mundane world, it does not affect his connection to G-d and he may pray without washing his face.

Let us celebrate this unique bond by recommitting to saying the daily Modeh Ani! Get your ready to print card here http://harfordchabad.org/media/pdf/868/NTRc8681234.pdf and put it by your bedside, to be seen first thing in the morning.

Have a Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 


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