These may not be the original sources for either shiTTah, but two early examples of either of them can be found in the Rambam, Mishneh Thorah - Hilkhoth Berakhoth 6:2 (mevorekh batteHiloh), and in the siddur of Rav Saadia Gaon, dinei berakhoth - ^amudh 88 (uv^aqav ghusl al-yadayin - wa-aHarei reHiSath ha-yadhoyim).

Essentially, the order for each method is:

  1. Rambam: fill cup, say berakhah, pour water, and dry hands
  2. Rasag: fill cup, pour water, say berakhah, and dry hands

My questions are:

  • Which method is original?
  • What is the source for each method?
  • And mainly, with the general principle of making berakhoth before performing the miSwah (cf. b.PesaHim 7a-b), how can the second method be justified? And if it can be justified, does that make it original? (cf. first question)
  • 1
    There are Rishonim on both sides, so I don't know what you mean by "the source for each method". I also don't know how you intend to prove which is original.
    – Double AA
    Feb 1, 2015 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


In terms of your last question, two explanations are given by Tosafot (Pesachim 7b) as to why the blessing can/should be after washing:

וכן בנטילת ידים לא חילקו בין נטילה של אחר בית הכסא דלא מצי לברך קודם מיהו בנטילה יש טעם אחר לברך אחר נטילה קודם ניגוב כדאמרינן (סוטה ד:) האוכל לחם בלא ניגוב ידים כאילו אוכל לחם טמא
[By] Neilat Yadayim they did not differentiate between the washing after leaving the restroom when one cannot bless before [and] an addition reason [in this case] to bless after washing before drying is as it says (Sotah 4b) "One who eats bread without drying his hands is as if he ate impure bread" [so drying is still considered part of the Mitzva].

Both opinions are cited in Shulchan Arukh (OC 158) and modern practices are varied.

  • +1 Good simple answer (although this shows it is so far back it's doubtful anyone would know which is older). This bracha did seem backwards, but at least its on good authority.
    – Mike
    Feb 1, 2015 at 21:01
  • +1. Re "modern practices are varied": I haven't iirc heard of anyone saying the ברכה before washing. Who does that?
    – msh210
    Feb 1, 2015 at 21:53
  • 1
    @msh210 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hershel_Schachter for one, and I'm pretty sure one of my Teimani friends told me his family does too. (I can't say what's standard among Teimanim in general.) My point was just that it's still 'alive'.
    – Double AA
    Feb 1, 2015 at 22:32
  • @msh210 The Bei'ur Halacha considers this approach acceptable if the person's hands were clean prior to washing (e.g. he hadn't even touched a מקום מכוסה) and the washing area is in a clean location (158, s.v. מברך קודם נטילה). Subject to these conditions, he says, one should not object to someone who wishes to follow the approach that the Beit Yosef, Rambam, and Rabbeinu Chananel (and the Geonim who taught him) considered to be l'chatchila.
    – Fred
    Feb 2, 2015 at 1:59
  • 1
    @Maimonist halachipedia.com/…
    – Double AA
    Feb 2, 2015 at 2:55

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