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ritual act in which a priest or other religious functionary places one or both hands palms down on the top of another person's head, usually while saying a prayer or blessing. The imposition of hands was first practiced in Judaism and was adopted by Christianity. In the Hebrew Bible it is associated with three interrelated ideas: consecration (i.e., setting apart for the service of God), transmission of a divine gift, and identification (the means whereby an offerer was linked with his sacrifice).