“Hey, Wazzup?” (2 panels)
Luke 11:37-41 “in a snailshell”
Tuesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang
After he had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”Luke 11:37-41
Consciences formed by long-held community traditions are difficult to self-evaluate. In the case of the Pharisees, the ritual of netilat yadayim (hand washing) became an indispensable part of their daily routine. Omission triggered scruples in the religiously observant.
According to Jewish historians, the ancient rabbis instituted netilat yadayim for the common people, a practice derived from priestly ceremonial washing. Its purpose was religious rather than hygienic. Detailed instructions include the following:
In all these instances the hands must be washed at least up to the third joint of the fingers, i.e., the junction of the phalanges and the metacarpus. Nevertheless, the rabbis considered it preferable to wash up to the wrist (Sh. Ar., oḤ 161:4). However, when washing before Grace, it is sufficient to wash only up to the second joint of the fingers (Sh. Ar., oḤ 181:4). A minimum of ¼ log (approx. ½ pint) of water is poured over the hands from a utensil with a wide mouth, the lip of which must be undamaged (Sh. Ar., oḤ 159:1, 3; 160:13). The hands must be clean without anything adhering to them prior to the ritual washing, and no foreign object such as a ring may intervene between them and the water (Sh. Ar., oḤ 161:1–3). Upon rising from sleep, each hand must be washed three times (Sh. Ar., oḤ 4:2), but before partaking of bread, it is sufficient if they are washed once (Sh. Ar., oḤ 162:2). It is customary to hold the cup in the left hand and wash the right one first, and then to reverse the procedure (Mishnah Berurah to Sh. Ar., oḤ 158:1 n. 4). A benediction is only recited after washing the hands upon rising and before eating bread. Its text reads “… and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.” After rising, it is today recited as part of the preliminary *Shaḥarit service, while before the meal it is recited prior to the drying of the hands (Sh. Ar., oḤ 158:11–12).Netilat Yadayim, Encyclopedia.com
Purity of Heart
Evidently, a meal at the home of a Pharisee was a complex affair. Through his nonconformity, Jesus brought up the essence of religion—purity of heart. Like a cup and a dish, human beings have an outside and an inside. Purity is within.
A clean cup!
Purity is within.