Birchot HaShachar

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Birchot HaShachar and Elokai are recited daily in praise of Hashem for a variety of experiences. They are followed by Birchot HaTorah.

The Institution of Birchot HaShachar

Why Chazal Instituted Birchot HaShachar

  1. 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.[1] Chazal, therefore, instituted a series of brachot to be recited every morning, each blessing corresponding to another of the various worldly benefits and pleasures.
  2. The Berachot were instituted as a means to help us reach Meah Berachot daily more quickly.[2]

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, and he believes it is incorrect. The Ramban (Pesachim 7b s.v. VeHa), on the other hand, argues that Birchot HaShachar are unequivocal obligations 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[3] rules like the Rambam, that one only recites the Berachot if he experiences the described phenomena, while the Rama accepts the opinion of the Ramban, who rules the Berachot were instituted for the nature's routine. Nevertheless, even Sephardim follow the latter opinion on this matter and recite all the Berachot daily, due the pre-existing Minhag described by the Rambam and the Arizal's insistence on it, as well.[4] Therefore, even if one doesn't hear a rooster crow, sleeps with his clothes on, or is blind he still recites the corresponding Berachot that morning.[5]

  1. According to some poskim, the bracha "Sheasa Li Kol Tzorki" should not be recited on Yom Kippur and Tisha BeAv.[6] Others disagree.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

  1. Ideally, one should say Elokai Neshama in connection with Asher Yatzar or any other bracha that begins with the word baruch.[12]
  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 be giving the incorrect impression that one's Neshama is God, which would be blasphemous.[13]

HaNoten Leyaef Koach

  1. Although the beracha of HaNoten Layaef Koach is not mentioned in the Gemara, the practice nowadays is to say it.[14]

Shelo Asani Goy, Eved, and Ishah

  1. Three of the Birchot HaShachar are Shelo Asani Goy, Shelo Asani Eved, Shelo Asani Isha, as praise for the different levels of Mitzvot for which one is obligated. 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. Women recite corresponding Berachot in the female conjugation, as well, except the final one, She'Asani Kirtzono is said without Hashem's name.[15]
  2. Some recite "Shelo Asani Nochri" as opposed to "Shelo Asani Goy".[16]

When to Recite Birchot HaShachar

Earliest Time for Birchot HaShachar

  1. The earliest time to recite Birchot HaShachar is from Chatzot (midnight)[17] except for HaNoten Lesechvi Binah which should not be said until Olot.[18]
  2. If one slept during the day through well after nightfall, one may recite Birchot HaShachar at Chatzot even if he plans on going back to sleep. Elokai Neshama and HaMaavir Sheina, however, should only be recited after he gets up and no longer plans on going back to sleep. One who forgot to recite the Birchot HaShachar before davening, may recite them afterwards, besides Birchot HaTorah and Elokai Neshama, as a result of some debate.[19]
  3. If one woke up before Olot HaShachar and plans on going back to sleep afterwards, one could make Birchot HaShachar except for Elokai Neshama and HaMaavir Shenah which should be said without Shem UMalchut. In the morning, one should recite Elokai Neshama and HaMaavir Shenah with Shem UMalchut.[20] However, if one slept the day before some say one may make the bracha with Shem UMalchut the first time.[21] If one feels he'll forget in the morning that he recited the Berachot already in middle of the night, then he should wait until he gets up for the day.[22]

Latest Time for Birchot HaShachar

  1. 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 zman (time frame) in which to say them.[23]

At Which Point of Davening

  1. Sephardim have a Minhag to recite the Birchot Hashachar before putting on Tefillin.[24] Moroccans recite the Berachot at home.[25]

How to Recite the Brachot

Sitting, Standing, or Walking

  1. One may say Birchot HaShachar while standing or sitting.[26] The Ashkenazic practice is to stand.[27] Some say that this only applies if it will not detract from one's concentration.[28]
  2. Some say that one should not say Birchot HaShachar while walking or doing any other task such as getting dressed.[29]

In a Tzibbur

  1. 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.[30]
  2. 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.[31]
    1. Practically, it is wise to say them all together so that one doesn't lose one's place.[32]

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.[33]
  2. There are various views on how to pronounce שעשה לי כל צרכי.[34]

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.[35]
  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.[36]
  3. 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.[37]

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.[38]
  2. Women recite all the 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 Goyah.[39]
  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.[40]

Can a Ger Recite Shelo Asani Goy?

The Avudraham[41] 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[42] 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.[43]

The Rama writes that the ger can recite a different beracha, Sheasani Ger.[44] On the other hand, the Bach[45] 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.[46]

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 Neshamah, HaMaavir Sheynah, and Birchot HaTorah, which one should preferably hear with intention to fulfill the obligation from someone who has slept.[47] If one is alone, Poskim differ what an Ashkenazi should do.[48].
  2. Sephardim may recite all the Birchot HaShachar (including Birchot HaTorah) except for Netilat Yadayim (and Asher Yatzar which one could make oneself if one goes to the bathroom). Birkot HaShachar may be recited from Chatzot, and Birkot HaTorah after Alot HaShachar and washing one's hands without a Beracha[49]

If One Forgot to Recite Birchot HaShachar

  1. If one forgot to recite Birchot HaShachar and remembered in middle of Pesukei DeZimrah one should recite them between the paragraphs in Pesukei DeZimrah.[50]
  2. If one forgot to recite Birchot HaShachar and only remembered in Brachot Kriyat Shema one should not interrupt to recite the Birchot HaShachar but rather have intent not to fulfill one’s obligation of Elokai Neshama with the bracha of Mechayeh HaMeytim.[51]
  3. If one forgot to recite Birchot HaShachar before davening, one may still recite all the Birchot HaShachar afterwards except for Elokai Neshama which some say was fulfilled with the bracha of Mechayeh HaMaytim.[52] Some say in this situation one should not recite Elokai Neshama, Asher Yatzar, or Birkot HaTorah.[53]

Text

Sources

  1. Gemara Brachot 35a
  2. Tur (Orach Chaim 46)
  3. Shulchan Aruch 46:8
  4. Yabia Omer 2:25:13. The Magen Avraham 46:14 ponders whether a blind person could recite Pokeach Ivrim or a deaf person recite HaNoten LaSechvi. He concludes (following the girsa of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Pri Megadim) 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? 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. 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. This logic is drawn out from the language of the Hagahot Maimoniyot cited by the Magen Avraham.
  5. Mishna Brurah 46:25
  6. Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, 9; Kaf Hachaim 46:17
  7. Chazon Ovadyah (Yamim Noraim pg 320), Mishna Brurah 554:31, Rabbi Eli Mansour
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 21; Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 1; Kaf HaChaim 46:4, Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 6:3)
  13. Mishna Brurah 46:3, Ben Ish Hai, Vayeshev, Halacha 2; Kaf HaChaim Orach Chaim 6:5, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 1
  14. Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 46:6) rules it should not be recited, as it does not appear in the Talmud. The Acharonim discuss at length on what grounds the common practice is to recite it today. The Chida in Birkei Yosef 46:11 argued that if Rav Yosef Karo knew of the Arizal's opinion he would have retracted. See Kaf HaChaim Palagi 9:10 and Ben Ish Hai (I Vayeshev 5). Rav Ovadia in Yechava Daat 4:4 disagreed with this contention but agreed to the conclusion that the minhag of Sephardim is to recite Hanoten Layef Koach. Halacha Brurah (Otzrot Yosef 3:10) Halacha Brurah adds that it is also acceptable according to Rashi in Sefer Hapardes siman 5 that one can add brachot onto Brachot Hashachar as you wish. Although his opinion is rejected it is another point. Rabbi Eli Mansour DailyHalacha. However, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (Nefesh Harav pg. 107) didn't recite this beracha. Rav Mordechai Lebhar (Magen Avot Orach Chaim 46:4) reports the custom in Morocco was to recite it, and this is bolstered by Emek Yehoshua (5:34) and Nahagu Ha'am, but Rav Shalom Meshash (Shemesh uMagen 1:11, 1:25) argues that the assertion Shulchan Aruch would have agreed had he known the Arizal held this way is unfounded.
    • As to the larger topic of reciting Brachot that aren't in the Gemara see: Shulchan Aruch OC 46:6, Shulchan Aruch EH 63, Pear HaDor of Rambam Siman 129 fnt. 7 of Rav Dovid Yosef, and Yachava Daat 4:4 footnote.
  15. Menachot 43b and Rashi ad loc, Tur and Shulchan Aruch 46:4, Mishna Berura 46:16, Yechaveh Daat 4:4, Or Letzion 2:3:1
  16. Rav Soloveitchik's practice (Nefesh HaRav p. 107)
  17. Kaf HaChaim 46:49, Or Letzion (vol 2, 4:9)
  18. Magen Avraham 47:13, Ishei Yisrael 5:6
  19. Shulchan Aruch 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10
  20. Mishna Brurah 47:30
  21. Piskei Teshuvot 494:7
  22. Or Letzion (vol 2, 4:9)
  23. Shulchan Aruch 47:13, Mishna Brurah 47:30 and 52:9-10, Yechave Daat 4:4. Derech Hachaim 247:4 writes that according to the Magen Avraham 71:1 the time for Birchot Hashachar is until the 4th hour of the day. Biur Halacha 52:1 s.v. kol disagrees. He accepts the Maamar Mordechai and Nahar Shalom that the time is all day. He also cites the Maaseh Rav that it can even be said by day. Mishna Brurah 52:10 concludes that initially one should say the birchot hashachar before 4 hours or Chatzot. Or Letzion 2:4:11 writes how one can rely on the Vilna Gaon's view of how to calculate the four hours Bediavad; otherwise, he is stict.
  24. Kaf Hachaim 46:2 writes that the Arizal's practice was to say Birchot Hashachar, Akeda, and then put on Tallit and Tefillin.
  25. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 46 fn. 39)
  26. Pri Megadim (Peticha Lehilchot Brachot no. 18), Pri Megadim M"Z 432:3, Ishei Yisrael 5:14, Yalkut Yosef (Birchat HaShachar pg 23)
  27. 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).
  28. Pri Megadim (Peticha LeHilchot Brachot #18 and M"Z 432:3, Halichot Shlomo ch. 20, Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:37
  29. Kaf HaChaim (Rav Chaim Palagi 9:7)
  30. Shulchan Aruch 6:4, Aruch Hashulchan 6:13
  31. Birkat Hashem vol. 1 6:17-18 based on Brachot 60b and Tur-Beit Yosef OC 46, See Answering_Amen_to_Your_Own_Bracha
  32. Piskei Teshuvot 46:3
  33. Rivivot Ephraim 1:36:2
  34. See Kaf HaChaim (Orach Chaim 46:15) and Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 46 fn. 39)
  35. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 4 since safek brachot lihakel.
  36. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 10
  37. Shulchan Aruch 46:5, Mishna Brurah 46:20
  38. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:25, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 11.
  39. Ben Ish Chai in Od Yosef Chay Vayeshev n. 9, Yechave Daat 4:4, Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 26. See Yabia Omer 8 OC 8 and 9 OC 11. Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Or Letzion 2:3:1) and Rav Ovadia (Yabia Omer 9 OC 108:28) argue whether it is a Middat Chassidut to requirement for them to recite the Berachot.
  40. Yalkut Yosef Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 27.
  41. Cited by the Beit Yosef 46:4
  42. Cited by the Kaf Hachaim 46:36
  43. 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. Bear Heitiv cites the Yad Aharon who agrees. See also the Rambam's teshuva to Rav Ovadia Hager who seems to hold this opinion as well.
  44. Darkei Moshe 46:3. He codifies this in his comments to Shulchan Aruch (Rama 46:4).
  45. Bach 46 s.v. VeYesh Od
  46. 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, Kaf Hachaim 46:36, Yalkut Yosef 46:21, and Or LeTzion 2:4:2 concur that a ger should only recite Shelo Asani Aved and Shelo Asani Isha.
  47. Rama 46:8, Mishna Brurah 46:24, Piskei Teshuvot 494:7
  48. Regarding a situation where an Ashkenazi has no one to recite the Berachot on his behalf, the Elyah Rabbah 46:13 says one should not recite HaMaavir Sheynah and Elokai Neshama, but Aruch HahSulchan (Orach Chaim 46:13) disagrees and holds that one can recite these even if one didn't sleep..Regarding Birchot HaTorah, Mishnah berurah 47:28 says not to say them due to safek berachot lehakel. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 47:23), however, strongly vouches for reciting Birchot Hatorah if awake the whole night and unable to hear from another.
  49. Kaf HaChaim 46:49:1, Sh"t Yabia Omer 5:6, Or LeTzion 2:4:11, Tefillah KeHilchata (chap 9 note 159) quoting Chacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, Yalkut Yosef (Birkot Hashachar, Birkot Hatorah and Psukei Dizimra 5764 page 13), Yalkut Yosef 489:13
  50. Ishei Yisrael 5:27
  51. Mishna Brurah 52:9
  52. Kaf HaChaim 46:9:1, Mishna Brurah 52:9.
  53. Yechaveh Daat 4:5
( V | T ) Specific parts of Prayer Prayer.jpg
Morning prayers
Birchot HaShachar - Birchot HaTorah - Korbanot - Kaddish - Pesukei DeZimrah - Barchu - Birchot Kriyat Shema - Kriyat Shema
Amidah: Shmoneh Esrei - Mashiv HaRuach - Atta Chonen - Atta Chonantanu - Hashivenu - Slach Lanu - Refaenu - Barech Aleinu - Yaaleh VeYavo - Al Hanissim - Sim Shalom - 3 Steps - Chazarat HaShatz - Kedusha - Birkat Cohanim - Havinenu
Post-Amidah: Kriyat HaTorah - Hagbah and Gelila - Tachanun, Ashrei, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom
Other daily prayers
Mincha - Mariv/Arvit - Repeating Shema at Night - Bedtime Shema - Tikkun Chatzot
Additional prayers
Tefillat HaDerech - Mussaf - Hallel of Rosh Chodesh