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Siman 46 Birkot HaShachar

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #22: Siman 46

Pages 147 - 150


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon






            The source of this siman (with the exception of se'if 9) is found on Berakhot 60b.  The gemara there lists the berakhot which relate to daily events.


"When one wakes up he should say 'Elokai, neshama' ... When one hears the call of the rooster he should say 'Blessed be He who gave intelligence to the rooster.'"



            There are three possible reasons for the fact that "Elokai neshama" is a berakha which does not begin with "barukh":


1) It is juxtaposed to "asher yatzar" (Responsa of the Rosh, klal 4:1).

2) It is a berakha of thanksgiving, and berakhot of thanksgiving do not start with "barukh" (Tosafot Berakhot 14a s.v. Yamim in).

3) It is juxtaposed to the berakha of "ha-mapil" which is said before going to bed.  According to this view, sleep is not considered a hefsek or interruption (Ra'avad, cited in Tosafot Ha-rosh Berakhot 60b; Me'iri; Re'ah).


            In practice, it is recommended to say it in juxtaposition to "asher yatzar" (Bach; Magen Avraham; Mishna Berura).


            One should pause slightly between "Elokai" and "neshama" so that it does not sound like a proclamation that the neshama is a god (Avudraham, Weekday Tefillot).


            If one did not recite "Elokai neshama" before tefilla, should he say it afterwards?  The Yerushalmi in Berakhot 4:4 teaches:


"One who wakes up from sleep says, 'Blessed are You Hashem who revives the dead.'"


            From here the Peri Chadash (siman 46) learns that if one prayed Shemoneh Esrai he has fulfilled this obligation, for he has said "who revives the dead."  However, the Sha'arei Teshuva is hesitant about this since the berakha "who revives the dead" in Shemoneh Esrai signifies the future resurrection of all dead, while Elokai neshama (and likewise the berakha "who revives the dead" of the Yerushalmi) refers to the return of the soul after slumber.


            In practice, it is preferable to recite the berakha before praying.  If one did not, he has two options:

1) He can, while reciting "who revives the dead" in Shemoneh Esrei, intend not to fulfill the obligation of Elokai neshama, and then say it after his tefilla (see M.B. 52:9).

2) He can take a nap during the day and, upon awakening, recite the berakha (Biur Halakha 52, s.v. U-mekol makom).  This has the advantage of taking into account the opinion of the Shibbolei Ha-leket in the name of Rabbeinu Simcha, and others, that this berakha should be recited after daytime sleep as well (though this is not accepted as halakha - see the Rema 231:1).


            What if one is an early riser?  It is permitted to recite Elokai neshama before dawn, yet it is preferable to wait until after - see M.B. 47:30, and the Biur Halakha there.


            Regarding one who arose before dawn but intends to go back to sleep (for example, for army patrol), the Magen Avraham (6:8) writes that he should say Elokai neshama and "Ha-ma'avir sheina" without "shem u-malkhut," (i.e., without mentioning God's names or his appelation of "King"), and when he gets up in the morning he should say them again, this time with shem and malkhut.  The Peri Chadash (46), however, rules that he should omit them altogether when first arising.  See the Mishna Berura 47:30, and the Biur Halakha there s.v. Ha-mashkim.



            Was this berakha really instituted regarding the rooster?  The Avudraham believes that the berakha refers to the miracle that the rooster is able to distinguish between day and night, thus serving man.  In contrast, the Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona and the Rosh (Berakhot 60b) point out that the heart is called a "sekhvi" (see Iyov 8:36).  Since "sekhvi" also means rooster, and since the rooster is also capable of distinguishing between day and night, the timing of this berakha was connected to the crow of the rooster in the morning.



            The gemara in Berakhot 60a continues:


"When he opens his eyes he should say 'Blessed be He who gives sight to the blind';

When he straightens himself and sits up he should say 'Blessed be He who releases the imprisoned';

When he gets dressed he should say 'Blessed be He who clothes the naked';

When he straightens up he should say 'Blessed be He who straightens the bent';

When he rests upon the ground he should say 'Blessed be He who spreads out the earth upon the water.'"


            The gemara indicates that "matir asurim" is said when one sits up in bed.  The Avudraham explains that this is because one is stretching his limbs, which have been "bound" during the night.  And "zokef kefufim," according to the gemara, is said upon standing up.  In light of this, what if one said "zokef kefufim" before saying "matir asurim"?  Rav Amram Gaon (cited in the Tur) writes that in such a case, he should omit the second berakha altogether because "zokef kefufim" is included in the category of "matir asurim."  The Maharshal and the Bach, though, rule that he should say it nevertheless.  See the Shulchan Arukh in se'if 5, and M.B. 46:20.


            [Is the order of the berakhot mentioned above the same as the order found in the siddur and in the Shulchan Arukh?]


            According to the Avudraham, the berakha "roka ha-aretz al ha-mayim" relates to the fact that the land is solid and thus allows one to stand upon it.



            The gemara further continues:


"When he walks he should say 'Blessed be He who prepares the steps of man';

When he puts on his shoes he should say 'Blessed be He who gave me all my needs.'"


            The version of the Aguda for the first of these berakhot reads instead "who has prepared the steps of man."  The Avudraham explains that that the berakha refers to the ability to walk.


            The gemara relates the berakha "she-asa li kol tzorki" to the putting on of shoes.  The Avudraham further points out that by this means, one is able to walk and fulfill the needs of his household, as the gemara says, "One should purchase a pair of shoes for himself, even if he has to sell all his possessions."


            In your opinion, what is the more logical order of these berakhot?  See the Shulchan Arukh se'if 1, and check various siddurim (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, etc.).


            Regarding the recital of "she-asa li kol tzorki" on Tish'a Be-av and Yom Kippur - the Gra would not say it until the fast ended, at which time he put on his shoes.




            The gemara continues:


"When one ties his belt he should say 'Blessed be He who girds Israel with strength';

When one wraps the turban upon his head he should say 'Blessed be He who crowns Israel with splendor.'"


            As stated in the gemara, "ozer Yisrael bi-gevura" was formulated regarding the putting on of one's belt.  The Beit Yosef, citing the Re'ah, elaborates that the issue involved is the need to eliminate a direct line of sight between one's heart and private parts.


            "Oter Yisrael be-tif'ara" relates to the covering of one's head.


            These two berakhot have an added element not found in any of the others - "Yisrael."  Why?


            According to the Bach and the Taz, they both refer to characteristics unique to the nation of Israel (while the others are universal in nature):  modesty and the fear of heaven (the latter is represented by head-covering, according to the Beit Yosef).




"When he washes his hands he should say 'Blessed be He who has sanctified us and commanded us regarding the washing of hands';

When he washes his face he should say 'Blessed be He who removes the pangs of sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids, and may it be Your will ... who bestows good kindnesses upon His people Israel.'"


            Netilat yadayim was already discussed at length in siman 4.


            "Ha-ma'avir sheina" is said upon washing one's face.  And since the removal of sleep is a great kindness on the part of God, we end this berakha with "ha-gomel chasadim tovim" (Tosafot Berakhot 46a s.v. Kol). 


            Tosafot also rule that one should say "vi-yehi ratzon" - with a vav - since it is one berakha (otherwise it would have started with "barukh").



            We find in a beraita in Menachot 43b, in the Tosefta Berakhot chapter 6, and in the Yerushalmi Berakhot 9:1 that there are three "negative" berakhot:  "who has not made me a woman," "who has not made me a gentile," and "who has not made me a slave" (some say, "an ignoramus").


            Why were these berakhot formulated in the negative mode and not the positive (e.g., "she-asani Yisrael")?


            The Bach and the Taz explain, according to the gemara in Eiruvin 13b, that really it would have been better for man had he not been created.  That being the case, the berakha continues in that vein and says that if he had to be created, at least it was not as a gentile, etc.


            The Bach adds as another point that if one said "who has made me a Jew," he would no longer be able to say the others, because that includes them all (since Hebrew nouns have gender).


            According to the Avudraham, "she-lo asani aved" is said even by a captive, since it relates to the freedom brought about through mitzvot.  (The same is true of all three berakhot: they relate to groups who are not bound by all the mitzvot [and proceed in increasing order of obligation - gentiles, slaves, women].  A free Jewish man thanks God for being commanded in the largest number of mitzvot.)  For elaboration, see Rav Efraim Oshry, Responsa Mi-ma'amakim siman 6, who was asked this regarding prisoners in a forced labor camp during the Holocaust and ruled that it should be said. (Rav Oshry's responsa have been translated into English, and are also quoted in many books such as Halakha and the Holocaust.)  Even though they may seem like slaves to the Nazis, Rav Oshry responded, they are nevertheless spiritually free because they are bound by God's mitzvot, and should say this berakha with more kavana than ever before.



            Women have become accustomed to saying the berakha "who has made me according to His will."  This is not mentioned in the gemara, its source being instead in the Avudraham.  The Gra and others believe that it should be said without shem and malkhut.  In practice, Ashkenazim do recite it as a berakha, while among Sephardim there are those who say it without shem and malkhut (as is the opinion of R. Ovadia Yosef in Yalkut Yosef).



            This berakha is not mentioned in the gemara, and according to the Agur it should not be said.  See the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh.  In practice, Askenazim (see the Rema there) and even Sephardim (Yalkut Yosef) do say it.



            According to the Responsa of the Rosh (klal 4:1) and the Avudraham, one who arises early may recite all the morning berakhot even before dawn (starting from the midpoint of the night).  See the lenient ruling of the Shulchan Arukh 47:13.


            However, the Shulchan Arukh (ibid) is more strict regarding "asher natan la-sekhvi bina" and rules that it may not be said until dawn.  The Gra and other Acharonim, though, are lenient in this matter.  See the ruling cited in the Mishna Berura 47:31 - that while the lenient ruling is the more correct one, it is still preferable to say this berakha before dawn only if one has heard the cry of a rooster.  And see the Biur Halakha there, s.v. Mevarekh kol seder berakhot.



            The Gaon of Lisa writes in his Derekh Ha-chayim that birkot ha-shachar may be said only during the first four hours of the day (these are halakhic hours, meaning one third of the total daylight time).  The Gra, though, in Ma'aseh Rav, permits them the entire day and even at night (be-di'avad).  The Mishna Berura (53:10) rules that one should be stringent le-khat'chila, but may utilize the lenient position be-di'avad until midday.  See his expansion there, and in the Biur Halakha s.v. Kol ha-berakhot.



            We have already written above (in siman 4) that in such a case one still recites all of birkot ha-shachar.  The Mishna Berura (46:24) registers a doubt about "Elokai neshama" and "ha-ma'avir sheina," but to the Arukh Ha-shulchan it is clear that they too are said.  Nevertheless, le-khat'chila it is preferable to follow the suggestion of the Mishna Berura.  For elaboration regarding the other berakhot, see our discussion in siman 4.



            According to the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefilla 7:7-9), birkot ha-shachar relate to the various things which benefit man in this world.  The corollary is obvious: If one does not benefit from something, he is not obligated to make the berakha over it.  For example, one who did not hear the cry of a rooster does not say "asher natan la-sekhvi bina;" one who did not put on shoes does not say "she-asa li kol tzorki," etc.


            The Geonim and the Ramban (Pesachim 81) believe instead that the berakhot correspond to "what the world is accustomed to."  Therefore, all the berakhot are to be recited even if one did not actually benefit from each of their subjects.


            This issue is the focus of a disagreement between the Shulchan Arukh and the Rema.  The Shulchan Arukh, following the Rambam, states that one should not make a berakha with shem and malkhut if he has not been obligated in it (see se'if 8), while the Rema rules that one should say all the berakhot in either case.


            In practice, Sephardim follow the Rema in this matter - see Yabia Omer vol. II, responsum 25:13.  (In light of this, what is strange about the hesitancy recorded in M.B. 46:24?  See the Arukh Ha-shulchan 46:13, who also thinks it is strange.)



(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)