Birchot HaShachar

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When to say these Brachot

  1. Originally, Chazal instituted that every Bracha of Birkot 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 Birkot Hashachar every day Jewish males recite the berachot 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]
  4. If one slept well after nightfall, one may recite Birkhot HaShachar at Chatzot even if one plans on going back to sleep. Elokai Nishama and HaMaavir Sheina, however, should only be said after one got up and doesn't plan on going back to sleep. One who forgot to say the Birkot HaShachar before davening, may say them afterwards, besides Brachot HaTorah and Elokai Nishama, as a result of some debate. [5]
  5. If one woke up before Olot HaShachar and one will go to sleep afterwards, one should make Brachot HaShachar except for Elokai Nishama and HaMaavir Shenah which should be said without Shem UMalchut. In the morning, one should make Elokai Netsor and HaMaavir Shenah with Shem UMalchut. [6] However, if one slept the day before some say one may make the Bracha oneself. [7]
  6. According to some poskim, the beracha "Sheasa Li Kol Tzorki" should not be recited on Yom Kippur and Tisha BeAv. [8] Others disagree. [9]
  7. Ideally, Birkhot HaShachar should be recited before the 4th Halachik hour of the day, but may be recited until midday. If one didn't do so, one may recite Birkhot HaShachar until one goes to sleep at night. [10]

How to make the Brachot

  1. One may say Brachot HaShachar while standing or sitting. [11]
  2. Some say that one shouldn't say Birchot HaShachar while walking or doing any other task such as getting dressed. [12]

Order of Berachot

  1. Some poskim say that if you mistakenly say zokef kfufim before matir asurim that you should not go back and say matir asurim. [13]
  2. If one switched the order of the berachot of shelo asani goy, shelo asani aved, and shelo asani isha he can still recite all three. [14]

Who is obligated in these Brachot?

  1. Even though the Brachot were instituted for particular action or enjoyment, even if one doesn’t do that action or get that enjoyment the Brachot are still made, for example, one should make HaNoten LiSichvei Binah even if one didn’t hear the rooster crow, or a blind person can make the Bracha of Pokeach Ivrim. [15]
  2. Women make birkot hashachar except that instead of shelo asani isha they say sheasani kiritzono 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. [16]
  3. If a blind person wants he can recite pokeach ivrim but if he asks, we tell him not to recite it because safek berachot lihakel. [17]
  4. A convert cannot recite shelo asani goy but if he wants he can recite it without Hashem's name. [18]

If one didn’t sleep

  1. Even if didn’t sleep at all at night, Ashkenazim may make all the Brachot HaShachar oneself except for Elokai Nishama, HaMaavir Sheynah, and Brachot HaTorah which one should hear from someone who did sleep. [19]Sephardim may make all the Brachot HaShachar (including Brachot HaTorah) except for Netilat Yadayim (and Asher Yatzer which he could make himself if he goes to the bathroom). [20]

If one forgot to say Birkot HaShachar

  1. If one forgot to say Brachot HaShachar and remembered in middle of Pesukei DeZimrah one should say it between the paragraphs in Pesukei DeZimrah. [21]
  2. If one forgot to say Brachot HaShachar and only remembered in Brachot Kriyat Shema one shouldn’t interrupt to say the Brachot but rather have intent not to fulfill one’s obligation of Elokai Nishama with the Bracha of Mechaya Meytim. [22]
  3. If one forgot to say Brachot HaShachar before Davening one may say all the brachot afterwards except for Elokai Nishama which some say was fulfilled with the Bracha of Mechaye Maytim. [23]

If one forgot to say Birkot HaTorah

  1. If one forgot to say Brachot HaTorah and remembered in middle of Pesukei DeZimrah one should say it between the paragraphs in Pesukei DeZimrah. [24]
  2. If one forgot to say Brachot HaTorah and only remembered in Brachot Kriyat Shema one shouldn’t interrupt to say the Brachot but rather have intent to fulfill one’s obligation of Brachot HaTorah with Ahavat Olam and then learn a little right after davening. [25]
  3. If one forgot to say Brachot HaTorah before Davening and only remembered afterwards and didn’t learn right after davening, one shouldn’t say Brachot HaTorah because there’s of a doubt in the poskim if one fulfilled one’s obligation. [26]

When to say Birchot HaTorah

  1. One should say Birchot HaTorah prior to saying any pesukim as tefillah. [27]

Elokai Neshama

  1. One should pause between the words elokai and neshama so as not to give the impression that the neshama is his G-d. [28]
  2. Ideally, one should say elokai neshama in connection with asher yatzar or any other beracha that begins with the words baruch. [29]

Misc

  1. The Birchas Hashachar don't have to be recited in order except that Matir Asurim must be said before Zokef Kefufim. If one said Zokef Kefufim before Matir Asurim, 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 his obligation. [30]
  2. In the bracha of Elokai Nishama, one should pause after saying Elokai, My G-d, and then continue Nishama SheNatana Bi. If the first two words were read together, the translation would incorrectly equating one's Neshama with God, which would be blasphemous. [31]
  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 manking. Chazal explain that indeed, everything belongs to Hashem, but once a person recites a bracha over a certain worldly pleasure, he acquires it. [32] 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 Birkhot HaShachar, the morning Berachos, and while reciting blessing 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. [33]
  5. In Talmudic times each of the Birkhot HaShachar were recited when the particular benefit for which it was composed occurred: One would open his eyes and recite the blessing Poke'ach Ivrim; when one would sit up he 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 Teffilah. [34]
  6. In three of the Birkhot HaShachar, we thank Hashem for not making us a non-Jew, who isn't obligated in any mitzvot or a slave who is limited in the mitzvot he is obligated in. Men also recite a bracha thanking Hashem for not being created a woman who is not as obligated as men in certain mitzvot. At this time, women also affirm their unique status in Judaism and recite SheAsani Kirsono.[35]

What is The Nature of Birkat HaShachar?

There is a famous discussion about Birkhot 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 Poke'ach 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 wasn't obligated in a specific bracha, such as if one didn't hear the rooster that morning. The Ramban Pesachim 7b s.v. VeHa, on the other hand, argues that Birkhot 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 didn't benefit from the occurrences that the brachot relate to.

The Shulchan Aruch[36] rules like the Rambam, while the Rama accepts the opinion of the Ramban. Interestingly, the minhag of Sephardim follows the Rama.[37]The Magen Avraham 46:14 ponders whether a blind person could recite Poke'ach Ivrim or a deaf person recite HaNoten LaSechvi. He concludes[38] that a blind person may recite Poke'ach Ivrim since he benefits from people who can see and guide him; a deaf person, though may not recite HaNoten LaSechvi. Considering that the Magen Avraham is following the Rama, why wouldn't a deaf person be able to recite the bracha which is meant to be a praise for the nature of the world?[39] It is possible to suggest that the Magen Avraham understood that even if the Birkhot 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.[40]

What's the nature of Elokai Neshama?

If one forgot to say Birkot HaShachar before davening, can one say them afterwards? The Rama 52:1 writes that if a person came late and didn’t get a chance to say Birkot HaShachar before davening, he should say them afterwards.[41] The Pri Chadash, however, argues that Elokai Nishama is an exception. He reasons that one already fulfilled one’s obligation of Elokai Nishama with the bracha of Mechayeh HaMeytim in Shemona Esrei, since both of them praise Hashem for reviving the dead.[42]

The Maamar Mordechai 52:4, however, rejects the Pri Chadash on the grounds that Elokai Nishama is unrelated to Mechayeh HaMeytim. Elokai Nishama 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 Shemona Esrei even if one is late.[43] After the fact, if one didn’t 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.[44]

Can a Ger recite Shelo Asani Goy?

The Avudraham[45] writes that a ger may not recite shelo asani goy since this bracha is thanking Hashem for how we were created. The Taz 46:5, however, argues that a ger is like a newborn baby (Yevamot 23a) and therefore can recite sheasani ger, because it is as if he was created as a ger. Additionally, the Kaf Hachaim 46:36 quotes Shyarei Knesset HaGedola who held that a ger can recite shelo asani goy because the intent is to praise Hashem for not creating him to remain as a non-Jew. [46]

The Rama (Darkei Moshe 46:3) writes that the ger can recite a different beracha, sheasani ger.[47] On the other hand, the Bach[48] claims that he can’t recite sheasani yehudi because he only became a Jew through his own decision to convert. The Magen Avraham adds that everyone agrees that a ger can recite Shelo Asani Aved and Shelo Asani Isha.[49]

Text

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

Sources

  1. S”A 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 S"A 46:4.
  2. Menachot 43B, Tur and S”A 46:4
  3. Bet Yosef 46:4, Mishna Berura 46:16, Rashi in menachot
  4. Magan Avraham 47:13, Kaf HaChaim 46:49, Or Letzion (vol 2, 4:9)
  5. S"A 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10
  6. Mishna Brurah 47:30
  7. Piskei Teshuvot 494:7
  8. Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, 9; Kaf Hachaim 46:17
  9. Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim pg 320), Mishna Berura 554:31, {http://www.dailyhalacha.com/displayRead.asp?readID=951 Rabbi Eli Mansour}
  10. S"A 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10
  11. Yalkut Yosef (Birchat HaShachar pg 23)
  12. Kaf HaChaim (Rav Chaim Palagi 9:7)
  13. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 4 since safek berachot lihakel.
  14. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 10
  15. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:25, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 11.
  16. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 26.
  17. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 27.
  18. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 31.
  19. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:24
  20. 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
  21. Ishei Yisrael 5:27
  22. Mishna Brurah 52:9
  23. Kaf HaChaim 46:9, Mishna Brurah 52:9
  24. Mishna Brurah 51:10
  25. Mishna Brurah 52:9
  26. S”A 47:8
  27. S”A 46:9, Mishna Brurah 46:27
  28. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 1; Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 2; Kaf HaChaim 6:5
  29. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 21; Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 1; Kaf HaChaim 46:4
  30. S"A 46:5, Mishna Brurah 46:20
  31. Mishna Brurah 46:3
  32. Gemara Brachot 35a
  33. Pri Megadim (Peticha LeHilchot Brachot #18 and M"Z 432:3, Halichot Shlomo ch. 20, Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:37
  34. S"A 46:1-2, Aruch HaShulchan 46:9
  35. Tur and S"A 46:4
  36. S"A 46:8
  37. Yabia Omer 2:25:13
  38. Following the girsa of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Pri Megadim
  39. 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.
  40. This logic is drawn out from the language of the Hagahot Maimoniyot cited by the Magen Avraham.
  41. One major exception is Birkot HaTorah, which according to many poskim, one fulfills with Ahava Rabba in the Ashkenazic minhag and Ahavat Olam in the Sephardic minhag. See S”A 47:8 for the full discussion.
  42. In fact, he explains a vague Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 4, Halacha 2) as stating that the conclusion of Elokai Nishama was Mechayeh HaMeytim. The Pri Megadim M”Z 52:1 writes that the S”A and Rama seem to disagree with the Pri Chadash.
  43. Many poskim side with the Pri Chadash including the Chaye Adam 8:8, Kitzur S”A 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’s no doubt in his mind that the Pri Chadash is incorrect, he concludes that once was unable to say Elokai Neshama before Shemona Esrei and he decided to follow the Pri Chadash.
  44. Biur 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.
  45. Cited by the Beit Yosef 46
  46. Magen Avraham 46:10 says that according to the Mikubalim a ger can recite shelo asani goy because the beracha is recited on the way that one’s Neshama will be taken from the world. Piskei Teshuvot 46:11 says one has on whom to rely if he wants to recite shelo asani goy.
  47. He codifies this in his comments to S”A (Rama 46:4).
  48. Bach 46 s.v. VeYesh Od
  49. 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 rule like that a ger should only recite Shelo Asani Aved and Shelo Asani Isha.