Interlocking the Fingers of the Right Hand with the Fingers of the Left Hand

The Rabbi Jacob S. Kassin Memorial Halacha Series
Authored by Rabbi Eli J. Mansour (8/16/2011)

The Zohar Ha’kadosh, in Vayikra (p. 24), writes that when a harsh judgment is issued against a person, Heaven forbid, his fingers will unwittingly begin moving, and the fingers of his two hands will become interlocked.  As interlocking hands is a sign of harsh judgment, it is improper for a person to intentionally hold his hands in this position.  The Ben Ish Hai (Rav Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909), in Parashat Pinhas (18), cites this Halacha in the name of the Arizal (Rav Yishak Luria of Safed, 1534-1572).  This is mentioned in other sources, as well, including the Sefer Ha’hasidim (by Rabbenu Yehuda Ha’hasid, Germany, d. 1217) and the Kaf Ha’haim (Rav Yaakob Haim Sofer, Baghdad-Israel, 1870-1939).  Thus, while it is permissible to place one hand on top of the other, one should not interlock the fingers of the two hands.

The Ben Ish Hai goes even further, writing that one should never place his hands behind his back, and should rather keep them in front of him at all times.  Indeed, there are different kinds of spiritual powers associated with the positioning of one’s hands and fingers, as Rabbenu Bahya discusses at length.

The Sefer Hazechira mentions that those who are accustomed to interlocking their fingers run the risk of experiencing extreme anxiety, Heaven forbid.

There are many warnings of this kind that we hear as children, and many people are unable to distinguish between those that stem from folklore and superstition, and those which have a clear basis in Jewish tradition.  When it comes to interlocking fingers, this is a well-documented warning that originates already from the Zohar and the teachings of the Arizal.

Summary: According to Kabbalistic tradition, one should not merge his hands together such that the fingers of the two hands interlock.  According to some sources, one should also refrain from placing his hands behind his back.

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4 Responses to Interlocking the Fingers of the Right Hand with the Fingers of the Left Hand

  1. Very interesting information, and I would like to add that the Sages also say that we shouldn’t rase our hands above the head wihtout nead, even if we are tired we shouldn’t do it to streght ourselves or when we speak very emotionally, we must pay attention what level are our hands, because rasing the hands above the head was Cohen’s priority when he prayed to Hashem. And it is very important to know all these ditails because, we have to think and analyse our deeds even when we are tired or emotionally unstable, and it gives us possibility to think about the connection with the Creator. When we have quests at home we behaive ourselves diffrent, and Torah teaches us that we should remember that HaShem’s eyes are always on us and we have to control ourselves, because we are always in the presents of the Creator.

  2. One more intresting detail for Nettilat Yadaim, Kabbalaists don’t put Nattlan from hand to hand to avoid holding the Nattlan with both hands at the same time, They put it on a surfice and then take by the other hand, thus avoiding interlocking the right and left spiritual lines.

  3. Felix says:

    I thought this is done to avoid Left line ordering the Right. Thus, we take with the Right and command to the Left, but when Left finishes we place it on a surface so Right will pick up from there.

    Also, ARIZAL points out in Shaar HaKavanot that the blessing for washing hands has 13 words, which equals to 13 attributes of mercy that have the power to remove Tumah from our hands after sleep.

  4. yehudith says:

    We start Nettilat Yadaim from right hand and it is done to avoid left hand odering right one, to stress that right Line in more important than left one, that most of the time we should work in right line. But we are putting Nattlan between poring on the hands on the surface to avoid interlocking of the lines which bring spiritual confusion( Bilbull).

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