When cutting nails there are some very specific instructions when cutting them. If I recall correctly, one is supposed to start with the left hand and then proceed to the right. This seems strange, as in most places we do things with the right first (e.g. put on right sleeve of shirt first, and the like).

So: Am I correct that cutting nails starts with the left hand?

And if so, why the difference?

  • I have a print of the kitsur shulhan aruch that even has a drawing to explain the nail cutting sequence, I'll need to loop it up after shabat to actually answer your question but this is a place to start if you want to look into it
    – Avraham
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 12:23

2 Answers 2



Per the Rama in Orach Chaim 260:1 the left hand gets cut first. Although it can be argued that it is not clear from the Rama the the left hand should be cut first, the fact that the left is mentioned first when normally Jews prioritize the right, proves that in this case the left should be cut first.

  • and, if so, why the difference?
    – yydl
    Commented Oct 16, 2011 at 3:08

See Elya Rabba siman 260 from ois 5 up untill and including siff 7. There are two similar traditions concerning finger skipping, one starting from the right hand & one starting from the left. The Rabbis who quote either one seem to take it as a definite importance to start with the hand mentioned. It might be Kabalistic. He also brings the point that the whole finger skipping symbolism might not be a practical command but rather a symbolic idea not to cut ones fingernails untill a given day of the week so it will be noticeable that one is cutting them for kavod shabbos.

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