YADAYIM (Heb. יָדַיִם), tractate in the order *Tohorot – Mishnah and Tosefta – dealing with the laws of washing the hands (see *Ablution) and their ritual impurity. The Mishnah contains four chapters.
The first deals with the quantity of water needed, and the vessels and water suitable for washing the hands. The second chapter discusses invalid washing of hands, the part of the hand to which the law of impurity applies, and doubtful cases of impurity of the hands. Chapters 3 and 4 deal with the halakhot of impure hands, in particular with the Holy Scriptures that "render the hands ritually unclean" (see *Ablution). Included in this is the question of whether the Songs of Songs and Ecclesiastes render the hands unclean. As this was one of the problems which occupied the attention of the sages "on that day" (when they appointed Eleazar b. *Azariah (3:5 in place of the nasiRabban *Gamaliel), many other halakhot are included which have nothing to do with impurity of hands but were discussed "on that day" (4:1–4), since they were all found together in the source before Judah i*("Rabbi"). For the same reason when at the end of the tractate (4:6) a dispute is cited between the Pharisees and the Sadducees about holy writings rendering the hands impure there are added three other disputes between the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Judeo-Christians (4:7–8). As a result Yadayim contains valuable sources for the problem of the establishment of the biblical canon and the history of the halakhah.
The Tosefta contains two chapters. Chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 (1–8) are parallel to chapters 1 and 2 of the Mishnah, but they include many halakhot not mentioned in the Mishnah and at times their order differs from that of the Mishnah. On the other hand the second part of the Tosefta (2:9–20), corresponding to chapters 3 and 4 of the Mishnah, is poorer. It contains mainly beraitot parallel to the Mishnah or adding a few details to it. At the end of the tractate (2:20) there are preserved two more disputes on the Second Temple period that are of great historical importance; one between the Pharisees and the Boethusians, the second between the Pharisees and the tovelei shaḥarit ("the morning bathers"; see *Ablution).
[Moshe David Herr]