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The Kaf HaChaim brings (162:2) that the three times is a specific Kabbalistic intention.


According to the Gemara Shabbos 109a, there's a spirit that rests on the hands which is a 'noble' spirit, and will therefore refuse to leave with a mere washing once, but only by washing three times can it be removed (Rashi there). While this is said in the context of washing in the morning, it could be that some have extended this to the washing done ...

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