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I know that in many situations, ritual handwashing must be performed using a vessel (Source: Maimonides, Mishne Torah (Hil. Mikvaot 11:1)). If one does not have a cup for ritual handwashing, is using one hand to pour water onto the other an acceptable alternative? (Suppose you do not have a "living water" source to pass your hands through either.)

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No, hands cannot serve as a vessel in this context. (Yadayim 1:2)

  • Thanks but wondering, I only see a comment in Yadayim 1:2 about pouring water on another person's hand with your hand. What if it's your own? – SAH Sep 20 '15 at 4:28
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    @sah the mishna says hands aren't a vessel. presumably my hands aren't anymore vessular than yours – Double AA Sep 20 '15 at 4:43
  • This is what I see the mishnah as saying. Is yours any different? 1)Water may be poured over the hands out of any kind of vessel, even out of vessels made of animal dung, out of vessels made of stone or out of vessels made of clay. 2)Water may not be poured from the sides of [broken] vessels or from the bottom of a ladle or from the stopper of a jar. 3)Nor may one pour [water] over the hands of his fellow out of his cupped hands. 4) Because one may not draw, nor sanctify, nor sprinkle the water of purification, nor pour water over the hands except in a vessel. (cot'd)... – SAH Sep 20 '15 at 19:24
  • 5) And only vessels closely covered with a lid protect [their contents from uncleanness]. 6) And only vessels protect [their contents from uncleanness] inside earthenware vessels. // While it seems that 3 and 4 together imply that one could not wash with one's own hands, I would like to see a textual source that that implication is correct, or else a reference explicitly to the use of one's own hands. – SAH Sep 20 '15 at 19:25

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