13 Adar Alef 5774
I'm going to try to give over something amazing I heard from Rav Yehudah Richter of Elon Moreh, with G-d's help. I'll trust the Rav to correct me if I make any mistakes.
In this week's parshah, Ki Tisa, we read about the kior, the washbasin, at which the Cohanim would ritually wash their hands and feet before beginning their service of Hashem. Today, we continue that tradition of hand washing, but not the foot washing. Why?
Sources of impurity are concentrated at the tips of fingers and toes, at the nails. The five digits on each hand and foot represent the five final Hebrew letters ( ם ן ך ף ץ ) which stand for the five kinds of gevurot or dinim in the world which come about because of these impurities. The impurity of the hands can be mitigated by the hand washing, but that of the feet are too strong and can only be mitigated by the footsteps of Mashiach. Therefore, we do not do the foot washing.
However, according to the Rav, there is one time when it is a mitzvah to do so. Every Erev Shabbat, on yom shishi after chatzot, it is a mitzvah to wash three parts of the body - the face, the hands and the feet, in preparation for Shabbat. Only at that time can our efforts to combat these impurities meet with success.
We can further extrapolate from this that on yom shishi after chatzot on the cosmic clock, when the footsteps of Mashiach can be heard - our present time - we have the ability to combat these particularly strong and difficult impurities with success, even though previously it was not possible.
I hope to develop this idea further in the near future, with G-d's help.
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