Birchat Asher Yatzar

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Obligation

  1. Any time one goes to the bathroom (urinating or moving one's bowels) one is obligated to say the bracha of Asher Yatzer. [1]Asher Yatzar is said every time that one releases excrement, even if it was a minute amount [2] This applies to both solid and liquid waste. [3]
  2. One should say asher yatzar immediately after using the bathroom. [4] However, if one didn't say it immediately, many authorities hold that one can still say it for 72 minutes after going to the bathroom. [5] Yet, other authorities say that one should not say past 30 minutes after going to the bathroom.[6]
  3. If one used the bathroom and forgot to say asher yatzar and then used the bathroom again, only one beracha should be recited to cover both uses. [7] Additionally, the Aruch HaShulchan says that if one went to the bathroom but forgot to say Asher Yatzar and subsequently needed to relieve himself again, he should first relieve himself and then say one beracha of Asher Yatzar [8]
  4. A person who still feels an urge to go to the bathroom again immediately after using the bathroom (diarrhea), should only say asher yatzar when he feels like he has cleared his bowels. [9]
  5. Women are obligated to say Asher Yatzar as well. [10]
  6. If a person is unsure whether he recited asher yatzar or not, he should not recite it. [11]

Asher Yatzer as part of Birchot HaShachar

  1. In the morning, one who goes to the bathroom should make the Bracha of Asher Yatzer. If one slept (more than 30 minutes) then, according to Ashkenazim, one should make the Bracha of Asher Yatzer even if one didn’t go to the bathroom. [12] However, according to Sephardim, one shouldn't say Asher Yatzer unless one went to the bathroom.[13]
  2. If one woke in the middle of the night, one should make Asher Yatzer then and another Asher Yatzer in the morning. [14]

General

  1. Chazal instituted that one should recite Asher Yatzar after relieving oneself. The bracha was instituted for a person to give praise to Hashem for creating man with great wisdom. The Ben Ish Chai points out that the number of words in Asher Yatzar are 45, the Gematria of Adam and it has many secrets. [15]
  2. One recites the bracha even if one only relieved oneself a minimal amount. Ideally, one should wash one's hands and recite Asher Yatzar immediately after coming out of the bathroom. However, one may recite the blessing as long as one does not feel the need to relieve oneself again. Once one feels the need to relieve oneself again, one should recites only one Asher Yatzar for both of them. [16]
  3. According to Ashkenazim, because when one awakes in the morning one is considered to be a new being there are some who recite Asher Yatzar even if they have no need to relieve themselves. This is based on the pasuk: Emunatecha Rabba LeBekarim Chadashim, They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness[17]. However, in order to be considered a new creation, one must have slept in his bed for at least a half hour after Halachik midnight. [18]
  4. If no water is available to wash one's hands after relieving oneself, one should wipe one's hands on a piece of cloth or rub them against a hard surface such as a wall, and then recite Asher Yatzar. Later, when water becomes available, one should wash one's hands, but not repeat Asher Yatzer. [19]

Understanding Asher Yatzar

  1. Asher Yatzar is an interesting beracha because it never directly addresses the topic that it is about. [20] One reason for this type of formulation is because it isn't respectful to talk about relieving oneself overtly [21]
  2. There is a lot of meaning contained within Asher Yatzar, for example, there are 45 words corresponding to the numerical value of the word "ADAM" [22]
  3. Numerous explanations are given for the word beChachma. Rashi (Berachot 60b "Umafli") explains based on Bereishit Rabba 1:4 that it is referring to the fact that Hakadosh Baruch Hu can keep air inside a person even though he has so many holes in his body. Tosafot (Berachot 60b "asher") explains that it refers to the fact that G-d created man's sustenance before he created him. The Maharsha (Berachot 60b "asher) explains that it is referring to man, and that he was created as an intelligent being. The Lavush explains that it refers to the many different processes that are involved in man's digestion and excretion; including taking in the food, holding the food, absorbing the nutrients, and excreting the waste [23]
  4. Nekavim mainly references the mouth and the organ used for excretion but is written twice to include every orifice [24]

Sources

  1. S”A 7:1 based on a statement of Abaye in Berachot 60b writes that anytime that one goes to the bathroom one is obligated to say Asher Yatzer.
  2. S"A 7:4, Aruch HaShulchan 7:5, Teshuvot Harosh 4:1
  3. Aruch Hashulchan 7:1
  4. Mishna Brurah 7:6.
  5. Halacha Berura 7:5 writes that one has up to 72 minutes after having used the bathroom. Sh"t Yechave Daat 4:5 says that if you only remembered after 72 minutes to say the beracha without shem u'malchut.
  6. Rivevot Efraim 8:2 writes that he originally ruled like Rav Ovadyah wrote in Yachave Daat (see previous note) that one may say it up until 72 minutes, however, after seeing many others who argued he said that one should be concerned for the opinion that says that one should not say it past 30 minutes after going to the bathroom. See also Rav Ovadyah in Yabia Omer 9:3 in his response to the author of the Revivot Efraim on this issue. See also Ben Ish Chai (Vayetze #12) who writes that one shouldn't say Asher Yatzer after 30 minutes after going to the bathroom.
  7. S"A 7:3 says that asher yatzar should be recited twice. However, most achronim including Mishna Brurah 7:6, Kaf Hachayim 7:5, and Aruch HaShulchan 7:4 quote both possibilities and conclude that because of safek brachot lihakel one should not say more than one bracha.
  8. Aruch HaShulchan 7:4
  9. Mishna Brurah 7:2, Kaf Hachayim 7:2
  10. Ben Ish Chai Vayetze Halacha 15
  11. Birkei Yosef 7:3
  12. Rama 4:1 writes that one should make Asher Yatzer even if one didn’t go to the bathroom. Mishna Brurah 4:3 comments that this is only true if one slept at night.
  13. Kaf HaChaim 4:9
  14. Mishna Brurah 4:3 writes that it’s preferable to make Asher Yatzer after one goes to the bathroom and not to push it off until Davening, because it’s likely one will one go again and then not have made a Asher Yatzer for the first time.
  15. S”A 7:1, Ben Ish Chai Vayetseh #15
  16. Mishna Brurah 7:2
  17. Eicha 3:23
  18. Igrot Moshe 1:4:1, Kesot HaShulchan, 5:2
  19. Birkei Yosef 7:3, S”A 4:22
  20. Aruch HaShulchan 6:1
  21. Aruch HaShulchan 6:1
  22. Ben Ish Chai as quoted in Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen, Laws of everyday living. This gematria is only accurate for Sfardim who have 45 words in their version of Asher Yatzar
  23. Aruch HaShulchan 6:2 brings all of these explanations
  24. Aruch HaShulchan 6:2