In Judaism we wash our hands quite frequently and for different reasons. One of the times when we wash our hands is following a meal. This specific hand washing is called Mayim Achronim, or “Final Waters”, because it is after the meal. The reason given is to avoid getting salt in the eyes. When we wash our hands at this point, most people use a special Mayim Achronim cup and basin set put aside for this purpose.
The Mayim Achronim set consists of a cup and a basin with which to wash the hands. The cup may be as simple as a Washing Cup and the basin may be a plastic bowl. There is no requirement for a fancy cup and bowl. However, since Jews typically try to beautify commandments and their performance, there are fancy and elaborate Mayim Achronim cups and basins.
When picking out a Mayim Achronim set, there are options to consider. Some people prefer wood and ceramic because it can be personalized more easily by painting. In addition, they can depict what they choose on the Mayim Achronim, such as Jerusalem or another design, such as the 7 species or the well-known and popular Armenian designs. The words “Mayim Achronim” are also usually painted on the cup.
There are also metal Mayim Achronim sets and they usually are made of Pewter, Brass or sterling silver. These two types of materials are usually engraved with a design, usually the 7 species or a flower pattern. They might also have Jerusalem engraved or sometimes even a name. It is common for the words “Mayim Achronim” to be engraved on the cup as well. Sometimes there will be a phrase from the grace after meals stating that we have eaten and are satisfied and therefore can bless God for the meal. The cup sometimes has a handle and may be shaped like an oil flask. These Mayim Achronim sets are often quite pricey as they usually are 925 sterling silver. When looking for Judaica religious items, make sure to check out the Talit section. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us and a customer support representative will be happy to assist you.
Mayim Achronim Guide
Mayim Achronim, or “The Final Waters” is the tradition of pouring water over the finger tips prior to reciting the Grace after Meals or Birkat HaMazon in Hebrew. The tradition is an ancient tradition dating back to the Talmud and possibly to the priests in the Temple. The tradition arose out of a medical concern, specifically avoiding touching certain powerful corrosive salts to the eyes. Mayim Achronim is not uniform amongst Jews; most Ashkenazi Jews do not perform the ritual while the vast majority of Chassidic and Sephardic Jews do based on the ruling of Rabbi Joseph Karo that Mayim Achronim is an obligation.
When performing the Mayim Achronim ritual, the tradition is to wash one’s hands from the middle knuckle down to the fingertips. There are differences amongst groups, such as the Yemenite Jews who wash their hands as if they were washing before eating bread and pour the water up to the wrist.
Materials Used for a Mayim Achronim Set
In terms of the materials used to produce Mayim Achronim sets, they are usually made from a precious metal such as 925 sterling silver or copper. Sterling silver is especially popular. Lacquered wood is also popular; sets made of wood are usually brightly painted, typically with scenes of Jerusalem or other Judaism-related themes. Ceramic and Clay sets are less common; this is because of their fragile nature.
Mayim Achronim Styles
There are several different styles of Mayim Achronim sets. The most common form is a small cup that fits into a basin or saucer. The cup may be shaped like a Greco-Roman jug or like a miniature Kiddush cup. The decorations on these Mayim Achronim dispensers and receptacles vary; you may choose from floral patterns, grapes, pearls, and even detailed engravings of Jerusalem. In addition, you may personalize these sets with engravings, such as the names of a couple that just married.
Size & Decoration
There are also larger sized Mayim Achronim sets as well. These sets are usually considerably more expensive as they are generally made from 925 sterling silver. The water dispenser in these sets is usually shaped like a Greco-Roman jug or like a Wash Cup. They may also echo Renaissance-era Italian silver lavers. They may also be made from lacquered wood. In terms of their decoration, these Mayim Achronim sets are simpler in design and typically have floral patterns, if they are decorated at all. Large lacquered wood Mayim Achronim sets are usually painted with bright themes such as the Seven Species and may have verses from the Bible relating to Israel or thanking G-d for sustenance.