Mayim Achronim

When the Holy Temples stood in Jerusalem, the priests were required to wash their hands before performing their services there. This is comparable to the ritual washing of hands after a meal before reciting the Blessing after Meals, or "Mayim Achronim", so that our hands are clean and pure before reciting Gods name.

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What is Mayim Achronim?

After enjoying a hearty meal that includes bread, it is customary for those present to rinse their fingertips before reciting Grace after Meals. This is known as Mayim Achronim – final waters. The first waters – mayim rishonim - is the hand washing at the start of the meal.

What is the reason for Mayim Achronim?

The main reasons for this ritual washing at the end of the meal are firstly, that it is required in order to have clean hands when mentioning the name of G-d in the Birchat Hamazon about to be recited. It is also a reminder of the service in the Temple when the Priests would regularly wash their hands before performing the service.

Secondly, it was instituted to rinse off any Sodomite salt left on the fingers. This salt, used in the times of the Talmud, was potentially dangerous if it touched the eyes. Although it is no longer in use, the Rabbis have proscribed that Mayim Achronim has the authority of a law and should be continued.

Unlike the washing of hands before eating bread, there is no specific amount of water to be used. It is enough to rinse the fingertips although some have the custom to wash until the upper knuckles.

Mayim Achronim sets

Although it is perfectly acceptable to leave the table and wash Mayim Achronim at the nearest sink, there is a beautiful custom is to bring to the table a special Mayim Achronim set, comprising a small jug, ewer style, resting on a bowl-shaped dish. Since the water used for Mayim Achronim must not be exposed, an innovative solution has been devised – there is a hollow in the center of the dish on which the jug stands. The water of Mayim Achronim is poured into this hollow and it is then covered with the jug that effectively “hides” it.

Choice at aJudaica

You will find many attractive Mayim Achronim sets at aJudaica made from nickel, pewter, silver plate and aluminum. Designs are traditional or contemporary. Many are decorated with evocative engravings of the Old City Jerusalem. Others display delicate filigree designs reminiscent of old times. Yair Emanuel offers a delightful choice combining the old and new with his traditional style in a choice of striking glossy contemporary colors. For the fans who enjoy the hallmark Emanuel designs, his brightly colored cheerful Jerusalem themes Mayim Achronim sets will bring a note of joy to your table.

Recommended gift

A Mayim Achronim set is a delightful gift. It will add grace to tableware and is also an attractive Judaica shelf decoration.

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