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Is there any particular reason the procedure for washing hands for bread includes pouring the water twice on each hand? Isn't once enough?

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Some (I assume Chasidim, but maybe others) are machmir to do three on each. My rav also instructed me to always go right-left-right-left-right-left as with negel vaser. – yoel Sep 8 '11 at 6:20

The basic idea is that the first splash of water becomes tamei from touching your hands (since they themselves are deemed tamei - that's the reason we have to wash in the first place); the second splash, then, makes the water left on your hands tahor. If your hands were dirty, you actually need three splashes: one to remove the dirt, and the second and third serve as the necessary two splashes.

(Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 162:2 and Mishnah Berurah there)

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I recall that reason assuming you wash the first time with less than a reviis on each hand (uncommon nowadays). There is a shittah that applies the second splash even when the first is a reviis, but don't know the reason. – YDK Sep 8 '11 at 4:30
It could be a machlokes whether a reviis retains its tahara. – YDK Sep 8 '11 at 4:52
@YDK The shulchan aruch paskins like the opinion you quote (one splash is good enough if it is a reviit). but the mishna berura quotes the gra who paskins like the rashba that you always need two. Consider it a popularly accepted chumra. – Double AA Feb 24 '12 at 7:34
@YDK See my answer – Double AA Feb 24 '12 at 19:50

Actually, the Shulchan Aruch in OC 162:2 (agreed upon by the Rama) rules that you need to splash once per hand plus:

  • one more splash if you are pouring less that a revi'it (86.4 mL) per splash in which case you need to splash twice per hand: once for the washing and once to remove the tamei water. (If you used a full revi'it than the water never becomes tamei from the hands.)

  • one more non-primary splash at the beginning if you have dirt on your hands, in which case you splash an extra time first to wash off the dirt.

I find that when using less than 86.4 mL per hand it is exceedingly difficult to cover the entire hand with the water. Additionally, a standard washing cup holds about a liter (about 12 revi'its) so the vast majority of people do not need a second splash the way we are accustomed to washing.

I note that the Mishna Berura there (sk 21) notes that it is possible that the Gra holds like the Rashba who requires two splashes always, but the Mishna Berurah agrees that the majority opinion is as I quoted above.

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Re not covering the whole hand, pashtus is that a reviis should cover both hand to the knuckles. The minhag to wash the whole hand is a chumra, although I don't know whether that chumra is universally accepted as minhag. – YDK Feb 26 '12 at 21:51
@YDK Pashtus is actually to wash the whole hand per the shulchan aruch 161:4 based on stam veyesh omrim halacha kestam, as well as the shulchan aruch's own statement there verifying this. Plus the Mishna Berura there and the Aruch HaShulchan note already that the minhag is to wash the whole hand – Double AA Feb 26 '12 at 21:59
@YDK I agree with you that it is possible to use one reviit for two hands, I'm just saying it's not worth the risk of missing / the effort involved when one can just use a one big splash and be done with it. – Double AA Feb 26 '12 at 22:00

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