One must wash before each tefilah (S"A 92:4, 233:2). Do you need to wash 3 times before davening, or is 1 time sufficient?

  • Why would you think three times are necessary? – Double AA Feb 5 '14 at 19:55
  • Someone told me the משנה ברורה requires it. I looked it up and couldn't find any such משנה ברורה. So I thought I'd ask if there's anyone at all that says such a thing. – Eliyahu Feb 5 '14 at 20:59
  • You should always include your motivation for asking in the question, as it can help get better answers. – Double AA Feb 5 '14 at 21:08
  • That is a good point! Will do. – Eliyahu Feb 6 '14 at 13:43

The washing for tefillah is because of cleanliness, not purity (Magen Avraham 93:3, Machtzis Hashekel there). Washing for cleanliness does not require three pourings, as that is for Tahara purposes. This is why בדיעבד even any non-liquid cleaning substance such as a rock can be used (S.A. ibid).

Although the common practice does seem (to me, after seeing many people washing before mincha) to be to wash three times, but common practice seems to be to do so at many times when it is not required.

Edit: The above answer was assuming that you are washing exclusively because of Tefillah even though you know your hands are clean. If you are washing for Tefillah because you may have touched a sweaty part of your body, there are opinions (Levush 4:18, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 128:27, others) that hold this creates a Ru'ach Ra'ah (evil spirit) and you would have to wash according to the level required for such, which is 3 times on each hand, switching off hands.

Regarding the cup discussion (in the comments), the Piskei Teshuva in Siman Daled cites the Shulchan Aruch as saying you should use a cup for washing for all Tefillos, but his citation is to 4:7, which is about washing in the morning, not washing for Tefillah.

  • I disagree about what is the common practice. – Double AA Feb 5 '14 at 20:21
  • You can't really disagree about what it seems to be, since seeming is inherently subjective. But stand by the washing sinks in most yeshivas before mincha and count how many people use the washing cup. I'll add words to reflect that it's my observation, though. – Y     e     z Feb 5 '14 at 20:28
  • Oh, yes, they all use the washing cup. Bust most use it like I do: once per hand. FTR Tahara washings also only require (in almost all modern cases) once per hand, not thrice – Double AA Feb 5 '14 at 20:29
  • let us continue this discussion in chat – Y     e     z Feb 5 '14 at 20:36
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    @Eliyahu you could see the chat discussion in the comment above yours, but to summarize - the S.A. describes rechitza, which does not seem to imply any need for a cup. The Rambam and others use the word netilla, which may imply the need for a cup. Although the Rambam uses the word rechitza in hilchos tefillah, not netillah. So there may be "any reason at all" - CYLOR but I would think you don't need to use a cup. – Y     e     z Feb 6 '14 at 18:50

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