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Does anybody know what word Netilat exactly means and how it refers to the mitzva of Netilat Yadaim?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

The Taamei HaMinhagim, in "הנהגות אדם בבוקר" says:

ג טעם שתקנו רז״ל לומר על נט״י בנוסח ברכה זו לשון נטילה, מפני שהוא לשון הגבהה מתרגום "ותשאני רוח" "ונטלתני", וכתיב (ישעיה ס"ג) "וינטלם וינשאם כל ימי עולם" - שצריך שיגביה ידיו למעלה (שלחן ארבע) :‏

ד עוד טעם לפי שצריך ליטול מן הכלי והכלי שמו נטלא בלשון תלמוד. אבודרהם:‏

That is, that according to the Shulchan Arba it is called that because Netilah means "raising", and you have to raise your hands after pouring the water on them, and according to the Abudirham it is because the vessel with which you pour the water is called a Natla in the Talmud (see in Chulin 104a: "נטלא בת רביעתא").

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On the first, note also netilat lulav, which we definitely raise up. – Monica Cellio Mar 11 '14 at 13:49
Also on the first note, the Maharal Nesiv HaAvoda ch. 15 (or maybe 16?) explains the significance of this - in short, that by lifting your hands they reach above your head, so the "elevated" status of hands comes from lifting them - they are thereby more primary. – Y ez Apr 3 '14 at 18:56

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