Simanim 5-7 Meanings of Berakhot

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #4: Simanim 5-7

Pages 21-25


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Siman 5:  Meanings of Berakhot (in general)



            Read M.B. 5:1 in which he cites the important words of R. Yehuda Ha-chasid in Sefer Chasidim regarding the proper way in which to recite berakhot (for an elaboration see the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, siman 6).


            Notice the shift in person from the beginning of the berakha (Barukh ata Hashem) to its continuation (asher kiddeshanu be-mitzvotav) - from second to third person.  What do you think accounts for this change?  There are a number of possible reasons, among them the explanation of the Rivash quoted in the Abudraham that while God's actions are revealed, His Godliness is hidden.


            When reciting a berakha, one should pause briefly between "kiddeshanu be-mitzvotav" and "ve-tzivanu" which belongs to the latter half of the berakha.


            See M.B. 5:3 in which the Gra addresses the issue of what one should have in mind when pronouncing the name of God (with the exception of that found in the first verse of the Shema).


            May one pronounce the name of God in a personal prayer of petition or thanksgiving?  The answer to this can be inferred from M.B. 5:3 (towards the end).



Siman 6: "Asher Yatzar" and "Elokai Neshama" (interpretation)



            Read the explanation of "asher yatzar" given in the Shulchan Arukh.  Its rules were discussed in the previous siman and will come up again in the next siman.


            "Elokai neshama" is a berakha which does not start with "barukh."  Here are the possible reasons:


1)  It is a berakha of thanksgiving on the return of our soul to us, and berakhot of thanksgiving never start with "barukh."  (Tosafot Berakhot 14a, s.v. Yamim;  and more)

2)  It is adjacent to "asher yatzar" and as such does not need to start with "barukh."  (Rosh, responsa, 6:1;  Beit Yosef 6 in the name of the Geonim.)

3)  According to the gemara it is the first berakha of the morning and it is to be feared that one would begin reciting it while still sleepy and lack the proper focus.  Its beginning was therefore extended to ensure that one is completely alert before the "barukh" at the end.  (Shibbolei Ha-leket)


            Which of these reasons is favored by the Shulchan Arukh (se'if 3)?  See the M.B. se'if katan 12.  Should one ideally take into account the second reason as well?



Siman 7:  "Asher Yatzar"



When is one obligated to say "asher yatzar"?


            It is said at any time of day after relieving oneself - even the smallest amount, for that too requires thanksgiving (Beit Yosef in the name of the Orchot Chayim).


            See M.B. 7:6 "u-lekhatchila ... hatalat mayim" (towards the end).


            What if one delayed reciting the berakha?  Much ink has been spilled about this issue.  The Nimukei Yosef (Pesachim 46a) wrote:


"That which was said [in the gemara] that netilat yadayim must be done even if one must walk a parsa in order to find water, that refers to one who relieves himself and must therefore wash his hands in order to say 'asher yatzar.'  And it does not matter that this means a delay in his recital of the berakha, since it is not a berakha on a mitzva or a berakha on food but rather a berakha of praise and thanksgiving."


            Others provided different time periods.  The Ben Ish Chai (Vayeitzei 12) ruled that one may still say the berakha up to half an hour later.


            In practice, one should say the berakha immediately, both because the obligation begins immediately and one must not delay it without a good reason, and because once one feels a need to relieve himself again he has lost the opportunity to say this berakha (since he may now say only one berakha after relieving himself twice).  If he did delay, it appears that he can still say it for seventy-two minutes, which is a Rishonim-era opinion (the Nimukei Yosef), and in fact those Acharonim who disagree never saw this opinion.


            If one is obligated to say "asher yatzar" and also must recite a berakha after food, which should come first?  See M.B. 7:2 in the name of the Rashal.


(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)