To keep ourselves and the people around us safe in the age of the Coronavirus we are being asked to wash our hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. This is actually a great opportunity to take a “Mindfulness Moment”, to be present and maybe cultivate a sense of gratitude.
Dr. Robert Braitman, a past International FJMC President suggests - One of the best ways to keep healthy is to wash our hands frequently and for 20 seconds. Pundits on TV have advised singing “Happy Birthday” twice as a guide. I would like to suggest a more appropriate “mantra” (if you will). Say it twice, it works.
פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ, וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן
Poteach et Yadecha u’masbiah l’chol chai ratzon.
You open your hand and satisfy every living creature with your kindness. (Ashrei, Psalm 145:16)
Another option is to say the traditional blessing for washing your hands.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִם
Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha'Olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.
So the next time you wash your hands, take a deep breath, be present and say a blessing. You might discover you are grateful for being healthy, for clean water, for the wonders of our hands and more.
A pandemic is a dramatic reminder of how interconnected humanity is. We can choose to panic, or we can choose to be calm. When we take a moment of calm, it is easier to see the compassion and caring that naturally arises from the unencumbered heart.
If you would like to bring more mindfulness into your synagogue’s services check out the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) Mindfulness Service Website which contains a complete Leader’s Guide to running such a service along with audio/video files to all our kavanot, chants, niggunim and guided meditations.