Siman 1 Getting Up in the Morning

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion


SHIUR # 1: Siman 1

Pages 7-10


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon






            This series is designed as an aid to self-study of Mishna Berura.  We will be covering four pages of Mishna Berura per week, beginning this week with pages 7-10 (which include Siman 1, the first chapter).  Our course of study involves you, the student, learning the Mishna Berura siman by siman and referring to our pages of mekorot (sources) at the relevant se'ifim (paragraphs).  It is advisable to keep an Arukh Ha-shulchan handy for reference.


            The shiur will include explanations of the basic nature of certain laws, the background in the Talmud and Rishonim, as well as excerpts from texts which deal with practical, modern-day application.


            In Yeshiva, we have found these shiurim to be extremely successful at fleshing out the regular Mishna Berura seder.  The students are left with a clearer appreciation of both the essence and the application of the halakha.


            The pace of the shiurim is geared to someone willing to invest several hours per week, which can easily be portioned into sessions as short as half an hour.  Approximately 3-4 pages of Mishna Berura will be covered each week.


Key: References in Shulchan Arukh (S.A.) are to siman:se'if; in Mishna Berura (M.B.) to siman:se'if katan (footnote number).


            Before commencing study of Mishna Berura, we recommend that you read the introduction to the Mishna Berura, especially from the section beginning "u-sekhar talmud Torah hu gadol me'od me'od" - "and the reward for Torah study is very great," until the end.  At some point, it is also worth reading the introduction of the Tur; the introduction of the Beit Yosef, excluding the section which begins "Shut le-haGaon Mahari Karo;" the introduction of the Darkhei Moshe; and finally, the introduction of the Yam Shel Shlomo (the Maharshal) to masekhet Chullin.


            The first of these is the most crucial.  For those interested in a bit of mussar, it is recommended to read the opening sentences of the Tur, until the words, "ma yofyo u-ma tuvo."


            Questions on the material can be addressed to Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon at: [email protected] .





Siman 1:  Getting Up in the Morning


S.A. 1:1 - Washing of Hands after Waking Up



M.B. 1:2 ("u-mekol she-ken ... yadayim" - 1 line): "And he certainly should not walk four cubits without having washed his hands."


            The primary source is Shabbat 108b:


"He [R. Muna] was accustomed to saying, 'A hand which went to the eye should be cut off, and so too a hand which went to the nose, a hand which went to the mouth, a hand which went to the ear ...' It was taught in a beraita, 'She is a free agent, and insists that he wash his hands three times.'"


            Rashi there explains that this refers to one who didn't wash his hands upon rising and subsequently touched his eye; for such a person, "it is better that it [his hand] be cut off, for the ruach ra'a (harmful spirit) rests upon his hand and blinds him, and similarly for them all."  The ruach ra'a rules over his hand - is a "free agent" - until he washes his hands three times.


            Is it necessary to wash hands by one's bed?  Our answer involves several components:


a) The ruach ra'a nowadays.  The gemara (Yoma 77b), in discussing Yom Kippur, states, "A woman may wash one hand in water and give bread to her child, and need not worry [about the prohibition of washing]."  Rashi elaborates, "[This is] since the ruach ra'a rests upon bread which is taken with hands that have not been washed in the morning, and this spirit is called Shivta."  Tosafot explain, however, that we are not dealing with the ruach ra'a of the morning, but rather with a ruach ra'a which comes to rest even in the middle of the day (after one has washed in the morning) each time one touches bread without having previously washed his hands.  Tosafot finish by saying that we need not watch out for this particular ruach ra'a, "since this ruach ra'a does not dwell in these kingdoms, just as we do not watch out for 'uncovering' and for 'pairs'" ("uncovering" is the drinking of water that remained uncovered overnight; "pairs" is the eating of an even number of items, e.g., the drinking of two cups and the like).


            Although Tosafot were not talking about the ruach ra'a of the morning, we can nevertheless derive an important principle from their words: There are times and places in which a particular ruach ra'a does not come to rest.


            The Rambam in Hilkhot Tefilla omits this rule regarding the ruach ra'a and does not mention a need for washing the hands three times.  From here, the Lechem Mishneh (Hilkhot Shevitat Asor 3:2) infers that in the Rambam's opinion, there is no ruach ra'a nowadays.  (To be sure, regarding Yom Kippur the Rambam ruled like the gemara that "a woman washes one hand in water etc.," leaving the Lechem Mishneh struggling to understand his opinion there.)


b) M.B. 1:2 ("yesh omrim ... dami" - one line).  "There are those who say that for this matter we consider the entire house to be as if within four cubits."  The Sha'arei Teshuva (found on the side of the page of the M.B.) writes that this is the opinion of the Rashba.  To which Rashba does this refer?  Not the one you might expect - see Berakhot 25b, where it becomes clear that this is the opinion of R. Shimon ben Elazar, the Tanna, and not R. Shmuel ben Aderet, the Rishon.


Question: Does the M.B. accept factors (a) and (b)?  Apparently not, for while he did live in relatively modern times, he disregards factor (a), and he explicitly writes that one should not rely on (b) unless there is a great need to do so.


c) One who goes to sleep after midnight (halakhic midnight, i.e., the midpoint of the night).  The Ben Ish Chai writes (Toldot, year 1, section 15): "Before washing his hands, one must not touch his mouth or his nose ... but for a daytime nap or sleep [which commenced] after midnight there is no need to beware of all this, even though we have written that he should wash his hands three times."


(For further elaboration, see the responsa of Yabi'a Omer, vol. 5, 1.  And see further a surprising comment of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, brought in Mikra'ei Kodesh - Yom Kippur of R. M. Harari, p. 158.)


d) The primary source relating to the ruach ra'a.  The idea of ruach ra'a is brought in the gemara in the context of the prohibition of touching bodily orifices (eyes, ears, etc.).  The matter of the threefold washing is likewise mentioned here.  However, the prohibition of walking four cubits without having washed one's hands does not appear in the gemara.  Instead, its source is the Zohar.  See Berakhot 60b which details the prescribed ritual for getting up in the morning - does the gemara hold like the Zohar?  It seems not, for there hand-washing is the last-mentioned step (unless one were to posit that he should wash his hands first, in addition, without a berakha).


(For further study, see Berakhot 16a, "Amar R. Chiya bar Abba ... Kol ha-nifneh ve-notel yadav u-maniach tefillin" - what can be proven from this?)  In practice, many are lenient about washing hands by the bedside, and this is not without a basis in halakha (especially since, as we have seen, this requirement is not found in the gemara), while he who chooses to be extra-careful about this is deserving of blessing.  However, one should refrain from touching bodily orifices or foodstuffs since these things are mentioned in the gemara.  Thus, when one arises in the morning he should first wash his hands (at the sink, if he wishes), then relieve himself, and then wash his hands again.




Be'ur Halakha 1:1 dibbur ha-matchil "she-yehei hu me'orer ha-shachar" - s.v. He should arouse the dawn.

Do you follow this practice?  See Arukh Ha-shulchan 1:29.



S.A. 1:5 - The Recital of Korbanot



S.A. 1:5 "Tov ... ve-asham" - "It is good to recite the portion of the binding [of Isaac] and the portion of the manna and the Ten Commandments and the portion of the burnt-offering (ola) and the meal-offering (mincha) and the peace-offering (shelamim) and the sin-offering (chatat) and the guilt-offering (asham)."


The primary sources are as follows:


            The akeida and the manna are not mentioned in the gemara (though the Derisha wrote that manna is mentioned in the Yerushalmi; see below).


            The Ten Commandments are mentioned in the gemara (Tamid 32b).


            The sacrifices are referred to in Megilla 31b:


"'How shall I know that I will inherit it [the land]?' (Breishit 15:8)  Said Avraham before the Holy One blessed be He, 'Master of the Universe!  What if, Heaven forbid, the Jews sin against You - would You do to them as You did to the generation of the flood and the generation of the dispersion?'  Said He, 'No.'  Said he before Him, 'Master of the Universe, how can I know?'  Said He, 'Take for Me a three-year-old heifer etc.' (Br. 15:9) [i.e., sacrifices will atone for them].  Said he before Him, 'Master of the Universe, that will suffice for the time that the Beit Ha-mikdash is standing, but when it is not standing, what will become of them?'  Said He, 'I have already arranged for them a manual of sacrifices - every time they read it I will consider it as if they offered a sacrifice before Me and I will forgive them their sins.'"


            This gemara indicates that the recital of korbanot bears tremendous import - "as if they offered a sacrifice before Me and I will forgive them their sins"!


            To recite or not to recite?


            It is not customary to recite the Ten Commandments, for the reason cited in M.B. 1:16 regarding their recital in public.  (His source is the responsa of the Rashba, vol. I, #184.)  See the Arukh Ha-shulchan, 1:24, "ve-gam aseret ... nusach kavu'a," where he refers to "tar'omet ha-minim" - the heretical claim that this portion is the sum of Torah.


            The portion of the manna is not customarily recited.  For the reason, see The Arukh Ha-shulchan (ibid.) "aval al parashat ha-man etc," who suggests that this is because the whole section is full of Bnei Yisrael's complaints and God's corresponding anger - not something we care to remember daily.


            Korbanot are different for two reasons:


a) they are mentioned in the gemara, and furthermore, their recital is seen as carrying great significance (as discussed above); and

b) see the Be'ur Halakha 1:5, dibbur ha-matchil "parashat ha-ola" - s.v. The portion of the burnt-offering, where he quotes the sections of korbanot which appear in the Torah.  Do they appear this way in our siddur?  See the Arukh Ha-shulchan 1:23-24, until "u-parashat ha-tamid etc."  His reason for the recital of "eizehu mekoman" - that we do it just for the sake of Torah study - might lend itself to the exonerating of those yeshiva students who neglect to recite korbanot.  It must be noted, though, that his reason is innovative and not reflective of previous rulings, and therefore it is proper, considering the great importance of reciting korbanot, to say at least the mishnayot of "eizehu mekoman" (which were apparently chosen to replace the passages in the Torah due to their explanatory character).


            Next week: M.B. pages 11-15 (Simanim 2-3)


(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)