Birchot HaShachar

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When to Say these Brachot

  1. Originally, Chazal instituted that every Bracha of Birchot HaShachar be said when a person gets the particular enjoyment that relates to that bracha, however, nowadays, the minhag is to make all the brachot together when one gets to Shul. [1]
  2. In Birchot HaShachar every day Jewish males recite the brachot of shelo asani goy, shelo asani eved, shelo asani isha [2] as praise for the different levels of mitzvot for which we are obligated [3].
  3. The earliest time to say Birchot HaShachar is from Chatzot (midnight)[4] except for HaNoten Lesechvi Binah which should not be said until Olot.[5]
  4. If one slept well after nightfall, one may recite Birchot HaShachar at Chatzot even if one plans on going back to sleep. Elokai Neshama and HaMaavir Sheina, however, should only be said after one got up and when one no longer plans on going back to sleep. One who forgot to say the Birchot HaShachar before davening, may say them afterwards, besides Birchot HaTorah and Elokai Neshama, as a result of some debate. [6]
  5. If one woke up before Olot HaShachar and one plans on going to sleep afterwards, one should make Birchot HaShachar except for Elokai Neshama and HaMaavir Shenah which should be said without Shem UMalchut. In the morning, one should make Elokai Netsor and HaMaavir Shenah with Shem UMalchut. [7] However, if one slept the day before some say one may make the bracha oneself. [8]
  6. According to some poskim, the bracha "Sheasa Li Kol Tzorki" should not be recited on Yom Kippur and Tisha BeAv. [9] Others disagree. [10]
  7. Ideally, Birchot HaShachar should be recited before the 4th Halachik hour of the day, but may be recited until midday. If one did not yet do so, one may recite Birchot HaShachar until one goes to sleep at night, as there is no definitive zeman (timeframe) in which to say them. [11]

How to Make the Brachot

  1. One may say Birchot HaShachar while standing or sitting. [12] The Ashkenazic practice is to stand.[13]
  2. Some say that one should not say Birchot HaShachar while walking or doing any other task such as getting dressed. [14]
  3. Birchot HaShachar should be recited individually, so even if somebody makes the brachot aloud, one should say "amen" and have in mind to not be yotze through them. [15]
  4. Even though the common practice is to say all of Birchot HaShachar at once, since they were not instituted by Chazal with this in mind, they are not considered a series of brachot. Therefore, one may not answer "amen" to solely the last bracha wanting to cover all of them, but rather says "amen" to each separately. Though Birchot HaTorah were instituted together, one may be halachically mafsik in between them.[16]
    1. Practically, it is wise to say them all together so that one doesn't lose one's place.[17]

Proper Text

  1. Some of the blessings identify Hashem with the ה, as a definite object such as hamotzi lechem. Some brachot do not such as Malbish Arumim and Matir Asurim. One should certainly not alter the text in any way from the way Chazal established it. [18]

Order of Brachot

  1. Some poskim say that if you mistakenly say Zokef Kfufim before Matir Asurim, one should not go back and say Matir Asurim. [19]
  2. If one switched the order of the brachot of Shelo Asani Goy, Shelo Asani Aved, and Shelo Asani Isha one can still recite all three. [20]

Who Is Obligated in these Brachot?

  1. Even though the brachot were instituted for particular action or enjoyment, even if one does not do that action or get that enjoyment the brachot are still made, for example, one should make HaNoten LiSichvei Binah even if one did not hear the rooster crow, or a blind person can make the bracha of Pokeach Ivrim. [21]
  2. Women make Birchot HaShachar except that instead of Shelo Asani Isha they say Sheasani Kirtzono without reciting Hashem's name. Instead of Shelo Asani Aved, they say Shelo Asani Shifcha and instead of Shelo Asani Goy they say Shelo Asani Goya. [22]
  3. If a blind person wants he can recite Pokeach Ivrim but if they ask, we tell them not to recite it because of the concept of safek brachot lihakel. [23]
  4. A convert cannot recite Shelo Asani Goy but if they want to they can recite it without Hashem's name. [24]

If one Has not Slept at Night

  1. Even if one did not sleep at all at night, Ashkenazim may nevertheless make all the Birchot HaShachar except for Elokai Nishama, HaMaavir Sheynah, and Birchot HaTorah which one should hear from and be motzi by someone who has slept. [25]Sephardim may make all the Birchot HaShachar (including Birchot HaTorah) except for Netilat Yadayim (and Asher Yatzer which one could make oneself if one goes to the bathroom). [26]

If one Forgot to Say Birchot HaShachar

  1. If one forgot to say Birchot HaShachar and remembered in middle of Pesukei DeZimrah one should say it between the paragraphs in Pesukei DeZimrah. [27]
  2. If one forgot to say Birchot HaShachar and only remembered in Brachot Kriyat Shema one should not interrupt to say the Birchot HaShachar but rather have intent not to fulfill one’s obligation of Elokai Nishama with the bracha of Mechaya Meytim. [28]
  3. If one forgot to say Birchot HaShachar before davening one may say all the Birchot HaShachar afterwards except for Elokai Nishama which some say was fulfilled with the bracha of Mechaye Maytim. [29]

If one Forgot to Say Birchot HaTorah

  1. If one forgot to say Birchot HaTorah and remembered in middle of Pesukei DeZimrah one should say it between the paragraphs in Pesukei DeZimrah. [30]
  2. If one forgot to say Birchot HaTorah and only remembered in Brachot Kriyat Shema one should not interrupt to say the Brachot but rather have intent to fulfill one’s obligation of Birchot HaTorah with Ahavat Olam and then learn a little right after davening. [31]
  3. If one forgot to say Birchot HaTorah before davening and only remembered afterwards and did not learn right after davening, one should not say Birchot HaTorah because there is a doubt amongst poskim as to whether one fulfilled one’s obligation. [32]

When to Say Birchot HaTorah

  1. One should say Birchot HaTorah prior to saying any pesukim as tefillah. [33]

Elokai Neshama

  1. One should pause between the words elokai and neshama so as not to give the impression that the neshama is one's God. [34]
  2. Ideally, one should say Elokai Neshama in connection with Asher Yatzar or any other bracha that begins with the word baruch. [35]

Specific Brachot

  1. The Birchas Hashachar do not have to be recited in order except for Matir Asurim, which must be said before Zokef Kefufim. If one said Zokef Kefufim before Matir Asurim, one should not recite Matir Asurim since Zokef Kefufim, straightening the bent, includes Matir Asurim, releasing the bound. One who erred should preferably listen to someone else recite Matir Asurim in order to fulfill their obligation. [36]
  2. In the bracha of Elokai Neshama, one should pause after saying Elokai, My God, and then continue Nishama SheNatana Bi. If the first two words were read together, the translation would incorrectly be equating one's Neshama with God, which would be blasphemous. [37]
  3. The Gemara notes that there is an apparent contradiction between two pesukim in Tehillim. On one hand, the pasuk says that Hashem owns the world, yet, the other pasuk describes how the land was given to mankind. Chazal explain that indeed, everything belongs to Hashem, but once a person recites a bracha over a certain worldly pleasure, he acquires it. [38] Chazal, therefore, instituted a series of brachot to be recited every morning, each blessing corresponding to another of the various worldly benefits and pleasures.
  4. Many poskim rule that while reciting Birchot HaShachar, the morning brachot, and while reciting blessings of praise or thanks, one does not need to stand. Others recommend standing. Some say that this only applies if it will not detract from one's concentration. [39]
  5. In Talmudic times each of the Birchot HaShachar were recited when the particular benefit for which it was composed occurred: One would open one's eyes and recite the blessing Pokeach Ivrim; when one would sit up one would say, Matir Asurim; etc. Nowadays, because of a concern of unclean hands when reciting the blessings, as well as the prevalence of those without sufficient knowledge of halacha, we recite all the brachot at one time, after preparing oneself for tefillah. [40]
  6. In three of the Birchot HaShachar, we thank Hashem for not making us a non-Jew, who is not obligated in as many mitzvot as a Jew or a slave who is also limited in the mitzvot he is obligated in. Men also recite a bracha thanking Hashem for not being created a woman who too is not obligated in certain mitzvot men are. At this time, women affirm their unique status in Judaism and recite SheAsani Kirtzono.[41]
  7. If one slept fully dressed in the clothing he will wear the next day, the blessing מלביש ערמים, Who clothes the naked, does not apply to him when he awakens; nevertheless, he should still recite that blessing. This is because the blessings were not enacted for a particular person, but for the general community to acknowledge that Hashem provides humanity's needs. Similarly, a blind person must recite the blessing פוקח עורים, Who opens (the eyes of) the blind. [42]
  8. Some recite "Shelo Asani Nochri" as opposed to "Shelo Asani Goy".[43]
  9. Although the beracha of הנותן ליעף כח is not mentioned in the Gemara, the practice nowadays is to say it. [44]

What Is the Nature of Birchot HaShachar?

There is a famous discussion about Birchot HaShachar based off the Gemara Brachot 60b. The Gemara says that when you hear a rooster, you should recite the bracha of Leshechvi Binah, when you open your eyes, you say Pokeach Ivriyim, when you sit up you say Matir Asurim, etc. The Gemara explains that each bracha corresponds to a specific action or occurrence in the morning routine. The question becomes whether you say these brachot only if the corresponding situation relates to you or are they general brachot that everyone should say.

The Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 7:7-9) says that they are subjective and should only be said if the corresponding occurrence is relevant to you. He notes, however, that the minhag was to say the brachot in shul even if one was not obligated in a specific bracha, such as if one did not hear the rooster that morning. The Ramban Pesachim 7b s.v. VeHa, on the other hand, argues that Birchot HaShachar are objective and are meant to be a praise for the regular nature of the world. Therefore, everyone should say all of the brachot even if one did not benefit from the occurrences that the brachot relate to.

The Shulchan Aruch[45] rules like the Rambam, while the Rama accepts the opinion of the Ramban. Interestingly, the minhag of Sephardim follows the Rama.[46]The Magen Avraham 46:14 ponders whether a blind person could recite Pokeach Ivrim or a deaf person recite HaNoten LaSechvi. He concludes[47] that a blind person may recite Pokeach Ivrim since they benefit from people who can see and are able to guide them; a deaf person though, may not recite HaNoten LaSechvi. Considering that the Magen Avraham is following the Rama, why would a deaf person not be able to recite the bracha which is meant to be a praise for the nature of the world?[48] It is possible to suggest that the Magen Avraham understood that even if the Birchot HaShachar are a praise to Hashem for the nature of the world, it can only be said by someone who could have potentially experienced that benefit and is at least minimally relates to the occurrence for which the bracha was established.[49]

What Is the Nature of Elokai Neshama?

If one forgot to say Birchot HaShachar before davening, can one say them afterwards? The Rama 52:1 writes that if a person came late and did not get a chance to say Birchot HaShachar before davening, they should say them afterwards.[50] The Pri Chadash, however, argues that Elokai Neshama is an exception. He reasons that one already fulfilled one’s obligation of Elokai Neshama with the bracha of Mechayeh HaMeytim in Shmoneh Esrei, since both of them praise Hashem for reviving the dead.[51]

The Maamar Mordechai 52:4, however, rejects the Pri Chadash on the grounds that Elokai Neshama is unrelated to Mechayeh HaMeytim. Elokai Neshama is a praise for Hashem returning one’s soul rejuvenated each day, while Mechayeh HaMeytim is an affirmation of the fact that in the future Hashem will bring the dead back to life. Nonetheless, in order to avoid any question one should make sure to say it before Shmoneh Esrei even if one is late.[52] After the fact, if one did not say it before davening, there is what to rely upon to say it afterwards, but many poskim side with the Pri Chadash, who holds that one should not say it.[53]

Can a Ger Recite Shelo Asani Goy?

The Avudraham[54] writes that a ger may not recite Shelo Asani Goy since this bracha is thanking Hashem for how we were created. The Shaarei Knesset HaGedola[55] argued that a ger can recite Shelo Asani Goy because the intent is to praise Hashem for not creating him to remain a non-Jew.[56]

The Rama writes that the ger can recite a different beracha, Sheasani Ger.[57] On the other hand, the Bach[58] claims that he cannot recite Sheasani Yehudi because he only became a Jew through his own decision to convert. The Taz 46:5 defends the Rama saying that since a ger is like a newborn baby (Yevamot 23a) he can recite Sheasani Ger, because it is as if he was created as a ger. The Magen Avraham adds that everyone agrees that a ger can recite Shelo Asani Aved and Shelo Asani Isha.[59]

Text

  1. For Hebrew text of Birchot Haschachar click here and continue to go to the next page or click here.

Sources

  1. Shulchan Aruch 6:2 and 46:2. The source for the brachot of Shelo Asani Goy, Shelo Asani Isha, and Shelo Asani Eved is the Gemara Menachot 43b, which is codified by the Shulchan Aruch 46:4.
  2. Menachot 43b, Tur and Shulchan Aruch 46:4
  3. Bet Yosef 46:4, Mishna Brurah 46:16, Rashi in menachot
  4. Kaf HaChaim 46:49, Or Letzion (vol 2, 4:9)
  5. Magen Avraham 47:13, Ishei Yisrael 5:6
  6. Shulchan Aruch 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10
  7. Mishna Brurah 47:30
  8. Piskei Teshuvot 494:7
  9. Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, 9; Kaf Hachaim 46:17
  10. Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim pg 320), Mishna Brurah 554:31, {http://www.dailyhalacha.com/displayRead.asp?readID=951 Rabbi Eli Mansour}
  11. Shulchan Aruch 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10, Yechave Daat 4:4
  12. Pri Megadim (Peticha Lehilchot Brachot no. 18), Pri Megadim M"Z 432:3, Ishei Yisrael 5:14, Yalkut Yosef (Birchat HaShachar pg 23)
  13. Ishei Yisrael 5:14 writes that some have the practice to stand. Piskei Teshuvot 46:3 writes that the Ashkenazic minhag is to stand and a person shouldn't deviate from that practice unless they are sick or old. The minhag to stand is sourced in the Mekor Chaim 46:2 and Siddur Yaavetz (prior to Netilat Yadayim in the morning).
  14. Kaf HaChaim (Rav Chaim Palagi 9:7)
  15. Shulchan Aruch 6:4, Aruch Hashulchan 6:13
  16. Birkat Hashem vol. 1 6:17-18 based on Brachot 60b and Tur-Beit Yosef OC 46, See Answering_Amen_to_Your_Own_Bracha
  17. Piskei Teshuvot 46:3
  18. Rivivot Ephraim 1:36:2
  19. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 4 since safek brachot lihakel.
  20. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 10
  21. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:25, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 11.
  22. Yechave Daat 4:4, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 26.
  23. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 27.
  24. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 31.
  25. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:24
  26. Kaf HaChaim 46:49, Sh"t Yabia Omer 5:6, Tefillah KeHilchata (chap 9 note 159) quoting Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 13
  27. Ishei Yisrael 5:27
  28. Mishna Brurah 52:9
  29. Kaf HaChaim 46:9, Mishna Brurah 52:9
  30. Mishna Brurah 51:10
  31. Mishna Brurah 52:9
  32. Sulchan Aruch 47:8
  33. Shulchan Aruch 46:9, Mishna Brurah 46:27
  34. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 1; Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 2; Kaf HaChaim 6:5
  35. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 21; Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 1; Kaf HaChaim 46:4
  36. Shulchan Aruch 46:5, Mishna Brurah 46:20
  37. Mishna Brurah 46:3
  38. Gemara Brachot 35a
  39. Pri Megadim (Peticha LeHilchot Brachot #18 and M"Z 432:3, Halichot Shlomo ch. 20, Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:37
  40. Shulchan Aruch 46:1-2, Aruch HaShulchan 46:9
  41. Tur and Shulchan Aruch 46:4
  42. Mishna Brurah 46:25
  43. Rav Soloveitchik's practice (Nefesh HaRav p. 107)
  44. Rabbi Eli Mansour DailyHalacha. However, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (Nefesh Harav pg. 107) didn't recite this beracha
  45. Shulchan Aruch 46:8
  46. Yabia Omer 2:25:13
  47. Following the girsa of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Pri Megadim
  48. Indeed, the Pri Chadash 46:8 takes for granted that a deaf person could recite HaNoten LeSechvi according to the Rama. This is also the ruling of the Derech HaChaim 6:2 and Mishna Brurah 46:25, though he also cites a dissenting opinion.
  49. This logic is drawn out from the language of the Hagahot Maimoniyot cited by the Magen Avraham.
  50. One major exception is Birchot HaTorah, which according to many poskim, one fulfills with Ahava Rabba in the Ashkenazic minhag and Ahavat Olam in the Sephardic minhag. See Shulchan Aruch 47:8 for the full discussion.
  51. In fact, he explains a vague Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 4, Halacha 2) as stating that the conclusion of Elokai Neshama was Mechayeh HaMeytim. The Pri Megadim M”Z 52:1 writes that the Shulchan Aruch and Rama seem to disagree with the Pri Chadash.
  52. Many poskim side with the Pri Chadash including the Chaye Adam 8:8, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 7:6, Derech HaChaim 33:2, Kaf HaChaim 52:5, and Yabia Omer O.C. 4:7:5. Most interestingly, even though the Maamar Mordechai writes that there is no doubt in his mind that the Pri Chadash is incorrect, he concludes that he once was unable to say Elokai Neshama before Shmoneh Esrei and he decided to follow the Pri Chadash.
  53. Beiur Halacha 52:1 s.v. VeMekol Makom cites many poskim including the Rama, Gra, Shaarei Teshuva, Pri Megadim, and Maamar Mordechai who disagree with the Pri Chadash, but also a number of poskim who quote the Pri Chadash. He concludes that there is what to rely on to follow either approach.
  54. Cited by the Beit Yosef 46:4
  55. Cited by the Kaf Hachaim 46:36
  56. Magen Avraham 46:10 says that according to the Mekubalim a ger can recite Shelo Asani Goy because the bracha is referring to the state of one's Neshama when it will be taken from the world. Piskei Teshuvot 46:11 says one has on whom to rely if one wants to recite Shelo Asani Goy.
  57. Darkei Moshe 46:3. He codifies this in his comments to Shulchan Aruch (Rama 46:4).
  58. Bach 46 s.v. VeYesh Od
  59. He explains that since it was up to his decision whether to convert or not, he can thank Hashem for being created a free male, who has the potential to be chayav in mitvzot. Aruch Hashulchan 46:10, Yalkut Yosef 46:21, and Kaf Hachaim 46:36 concur that a ger should only recite Shelo Asani Aved and Shelo Asani Isha.