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Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Seven

Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Seven

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Halacha 1

When the Sages instituted [a text for] these prayers, they [also] established other blessings to be recited every day. These are:

When a person gets into bed to sleep at night, he says:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who causes the bonds of sleep to fall upon my eyes, who sinks [one into] restful slumber, and illuminates the pupil of the eye. May it be Your will, God, our Lord, to save me from the evil inclination and from a bad occurrence. May I not be disturbed by bad dreams or evil thoughts. Let my bed be perfect before You and may You raise me up from it to life and peace and illuminate my eyes lest I sleep a sleep of death. Blessed are You, God, who illuminates the whole world in His glory.

Halacha 2

[Then,] one reads the first section of Kri'at Shema and goes to sleep. [This applies] even if his wife is sleeping with him.

If he is overcome by sleep, he should read the first verse [of Kri'at Shema] or verses of mercy and afterwards, he may go to sleep. When a person awakes after concluding his sleep, while still in bed, he says:

My Lord, the soul that You have placed within me is pure. You have created it, You have formed it, You have breathed it into me and You preserve it within me. You will ultimately take it from me and restore it to me in the Time to Come. As long as the soul is lodged within me, I am thankful before You, O God, my Lord, Master of all works. Blessed are You, God, who restores souls to dead bodies.

Halacha 4

When one hears the crow of a rooster, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who gives the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night.

When he puts on his clothes, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who clothes the naked.

When he puts his cloth on his head, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who crowns Israel in glory.

When he passes his hands over his eyes, he recites: [Blessed...] who opens the eyes of the blind.

When he sits up in his bed, he recites: [Blessed...] who unties those bound.

When he lowers his feet from the bed and rests them on the ground, he recites: [Blessed...] who spreads the earth over the waters.

When he stands up, he recites: [Blessed...] who straightens the bowed.

When he washes his hands, he recites: [Blessed...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of hands.

When he washes his face, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who removes the bonds of sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids. May it be Your will, God, my Lord and Lord of my fathers, that You accustom me to the performance of [Your] commandments and do not accustom me to sins or transgressions. Cause the positive inclination to rule over me and not the evil inclination. Strengthen me in Your commandments and grant my portion in Your Torah. Allow me to find favor, lovingkindness, and mercy in Your eyes and the eyes of all who see me and bestow upon me benevolent kindnesses. Blessed are You, God, who bestows benevolent kindnesses.

Halacha 5

Whenever one enters the toilet, before entering, he says:

Be honored, holy honorable ones, servants of the Most High. Help me. Help me. Guard me. Guard me. Wait for me until I enter and come out, as this is the way of humans.

After he comes out, he recites:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who formed man in wisdom and created within him many openings and cavities. It is revealed and known before the throne of Your glory that if one of them were to be blocked or if one of them were to be opened, it would be impossible to exist for even one moment. Blessed are You, God, who heals all flesh and works wonders.

Halacha 6

When one fastens his belt, he recites: [Blessed...universe,] who girds Israel with strength.

When he puts on his shoes, he recites: [Blessed...universe,] for You have provided me with all my needs.

When he walks to depart on his way, he recites: [Blessed... universe,] who prepares the steps of man.

[Also,] every day, a person should recite:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a non-Jew.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a servant.

Halacha 7

These eighteen blessings do not have a particular order. Rather, one recites each of them in response to the condition for which the blessing was instituted, at the appropriate time.

What is implied? One who fastens his belt while still in his bed recites [the blessing] "who girds Israel with strength." One who hears the voice of the rooster recites [the blessing] "who gives understanding to the rooster."

Any blessing in which one is not obligated should not be recited.

Halacha 8

What is implied? One who sleeps in his outer garment should not recite the blessing "who clothes the naked" upon rising.

One who walks barefoot does not recite the blessing, "for You have provided me with all my needs."

On Yom Kippur and the ninth of Av, when one does not wash, one does not recite the blessing al netilat yadayim, nor the blessing "who removes the bonds of sleep...."

One who does not relieve himself does not recite the blessing, "who created man in wisdom...." The same applies regarding the remainder of the blessings.

Halacha 9

It is the custom of the people in the majority of our cities to recite these blessings one after another in the synagogue, whether or not they are obligated in them.

This is a mistake and it is not proper to follow this practice. One should not recite a blessing unless he is obligated to.

Halacha 10

One who rises to study Torah, whether the Written or Oral Law, before he recites the Shema, should wash his hands beforehand, recite [the following] three blessings, and then study.

[These blessings] are:

[Blessed... universe,] who has sanctified us with His com-FJ mandments and commanded us concerning the words of Torah.
And please, God, our Lord, make pleasant the words of Your Torah in our mouths and in the mouths of Your people, the entire House of Israel. May we, our offspring, and the offspring of Your people, be knowers of Your name and among those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. Blessed are You, God, who teaches Torah to His people, Israel.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has chosen us from among all the nations and given us His Torah. Blessed are You, God, who gives the Torah.

Halacha 11

One is obligated to recite these three blessings every day. Afterwards, one should read a few words of Torah. [To fulfill this obligation,] the people adopted the custom of reading the Priestly Blessing. In certain places, they recite [the passage, (Numbers 28: 1-9)]: "Command the children of Israel...," and there are places where they read both of them.

Also, [it is proper] to read chapters or laws from the Mishnah and the Beraitot.

Halacha 12

The Sages praised those who recite songs from the Book of Psalms every day; from "A song of praise by David... (Tehillah l'David)" (Psalms 145) until the end of the Book [of Psalms]. It has become customary to read verses before and after them.

They instituted a blessing before the [recitation of the] songs, Baruch She'amar..., and a blessing after [concluding] them, Yishtabach. Afterwards, one recites the blessings for Kri'at Shema and recites the Shema.

Halacha 13

There are places where they are accustomed to recite the Song of the Sea (Exodus 14:30-15:26) each day after they recite Yishtabach. Afterwards, they recite the blessings for theShema.

There are places where they recite the song, Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-43), and there are individuals who recite both of them. Everything is dependent on custom.

Halacha 14

A person is obligated to recite 100 blessings [in the period of one] day and night. What are these 100 blessings?
The twenty-three blessings that we have counted in this chapter,
the seven blessings before and after Kri'at Shema in the morning and in the evening;
When one wraps himself in tzitzit, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit.
When he puts on his Tefilin, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on Tefilin.
[One recites] three Amidot, each of which contains eighteen blessings.

Behold, this is 86 blessings.

When one eats two meals, [one] during the day and [one] at night, one recites 14 blessings, seven for each meal:

one when he washes his hands before eating,
and, on the food itself, one before and three afterwards,
on the wine, one before and one afterwards,
[a total] of seven.

Thus, there are 100 blessings all told.

Halacha 15

At present, since the [Sages] established the blessing [cursing] the heretics in prayer and added hatov v'hameitiv in the grace after meals, there are five more blessings.

On Sabbaths and holidays, when the Amidah contains [only] seven blessings, and similarly, on other days, if one is not obligated in all of these blessings - e.g., one did not sleep at night, nor loosen his belt, nor go to the bathroom, or the like - he must complete the 100 blessings by [reciting blessings over] fruits.

Halacha 16

What is implied?

[When] one eats a small amount of vegetables, he recites a blessing before and after it. [When] he eats a small amount of a particular fruit, he recites a blessing before and after it. He should count all the blessings [he recites] until he completes [the requirement of] 100 each day.

Halacha 17

The order of prayer is as follows:

In the morning, a person should rise early and recite the blessings [mentioned above]. [Then,] he recites the songs [of praise] and the blessings before and after them. [Afterwards,] he recites theShema, [together with] the blessings before and after it. He should omit the Kedushah from the first blessing before [the Shema] because an individual does not recite Kedushah.

When he concludes [the blessing,] ga'al Yisrael, he should stand immediately to connect [the blessing of] redemption to prayer. He should pray standing, as we have said.

When he concludes, he should sit, fall on his face and recite the supplication prayer. [Afterwards,] he should lift up his head and recite a few [additional] supplications while sitting amid supplication.

Afterwards, while sitting, he recites Tehillah l'David (Psalms 145), adds supplications according to his ability and departs to his own affairs.

Halacha <i>18.</i>

One begins the Minchah service by reciting Tehillah l'David (Psalm 145) while sitting. Afterwards, one stands and recites the Minchah prayer. When he finishes, he falls on his face and recites the supplication prayer, raises his head and utters [more] supplication according to his ability and departs to his own matters.

In the evening service, he recites the Shema together with the blessings before and after it, connects [the blessing of] redemption to prayer and prays standing. When he finishes, he sits a short while and departs.

One who offers prayers of supplication after the evening service is praiseworthy.

Even though one recites the blessing hashkiveinu afterga'al Yisrael, it is not considered as an interruption between [the blessing of] redemption and prayer, for they are both considered as one long blessing.

Commentary Halacha 1

When the Sages - Ezra and his court, the Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah

[instituted a text for] these prayers, - See Chapter 1, Halachot 2-5.

they [also] established other blessings to be recited every day. - In Hilchot Berachot 1:4, the Rambam writes:

There are three types of blessings: blessings associated with [deriving] satisfaction, blessings associated with mitzvot, and blessings of thanksgiving which are a process of praise, thanksgiving, and request so that we will continually remember the Creator and fear Him.

In Hilchot Berachot 10:1, the Rambam writes that the blessings associated with the prayer service are included in the category of blessings of thanksgiving. This position is not accepted by all authorities. For example, the Avudraham considers the blessings associated with the prayer service as a separate category of blessings.

These are: When a person gets into bed - Note the Otzar HaGeonim which requires that both this blessing and the Shema be recited in one's bed, directly before retiring.

to sleep at night - The Rambam begins his discussion of the blessings of prayer with one recited at night in keeping with the concept that the new day starts after sunset. (See also Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:1 and our commentary there.)

he says: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe who causes - This blessing, with certain textual differences, is found in Berachot 60b.

the bonds of sleep - Our translation is based on Esther 1:6 which mentions חבלי בוץ - "bonds (or cords) of linen" (Otzar HaTefilot). The phrase may also be rendered as "the pains of sleep" based on Hoshea 13:13 חבלי יולדה - "the pains of childbirth." Exhaustion is painful to one's eyes and makes it difficult to keep them open.

to fall upon my eyes, who sinks [one into] restful slumber, - Rav Kapach's manuscript of the Mishneh Torah omits the latter clause. He also notes that the Yemenite siddur, which was composed in accordance with the Rambam's opinion, follows this version. Rav Yitzchok Alfasi's Halachot, which the Rambam often used as a source, also omits this clause.

and illuminates the pupil of the eye - See the Targum to Psalms 17:8. In Nusach Ashkenaz, this clause appears later in the blessing.

May it be Your will, God, our Lord, - The version in our texts of Berachot (ibid.) contains additional requests:

May it be Your will, God, my Lord, to lay me down to peace and grant my portion in Your Torah. Accustom me to commandments and not to transgressions and bring me not to sin or transgression, trial, or embarrassment.

This text is found in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon. The Vilna Gaon, in his emendations to the Talmud, suggests that these requests were not originally included in the Talmud and were added later by Rav Amram Gaon.

to save me from the evil inclination and from a bad occurrence. May I not be disturbed by bad dreams or evil thoughts. - The prevention of sinful thoughts and the avoidance of nocturnal emissions during sleep are two of the main reasons given for reciting the Shema before retiring.

Let my bed be perfect before You - Rashi (Berachot 60b) explains that this is a prayer for spiritually healthy children. See Sifre (Deuteronomy 31).

and may You raise me up from it to life and peace and illuminate my eyes lest I sleep a sleep of death - This is based on Psalms 13:4.

Blessed are You, God, who illuminates the whole world in His glory. - This is based on Ezekiel 43:2. Metzudat Tzion explains that the radiance of the Divine Presence is a source of light to the whole world. As we go to sleep at night in a dark world, we express our thanks for the Divine light that constantly fills the world.

The recitation of a blessing for sleep is based on our Sages' conception of sleep as one of God's greatest gifts because it allows man to rest and awake refreshed, able to serve his Creator with renewed energy and vigor. In Bereishit Rabbah 9:8, Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar interprets the words uttered by God at the end of the sixth day of creation, "and behold it was very good" (Genesis 1:30), as referring to the creation of sleep.

Commentary Halacha 2

[Then,] - Berachot 60b states that one first recites Kri'at Shema and then, the blessing of hamapil (the blessing discussed in Halachah 1). This opinion is quoted by the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 239:1). However, this order is only followed in Nusach Ari. Both Nusach Ashkenaz and Nusach Sephard follow the order stated by the Rambam.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:1) relates that Rav Zeira was accustomed to recite the Shema over and over until he fell asleep. This indicates that the Shema is the last thing said at night before sleeping (Hagahot Maimoniot in the name of Rabbenu Nissim Gaon).

one reads the first section - This is consistent with our text of Berachot (loc. cit.) which states that, before going to sleep, one recites "from Shema until V'haya im shamoa." This is the opinion followed in most communities at present.

Rabbenu Chananel rules that one recites the first two sections of Shema since both contain the phrases "with all your heart" and "while laying down" (See the commentary below). Rabbenu Asher also follows this position.

The Magen Avraham (239:1) quotes the Ari, Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, as requiring the recitation of all three sections of the Shema so that the 248 words it contains will guard the 248 limbs of the body during sleep. According to the opinion of Rashi mentioned below, it is also necessary to read all three sections.

of Kri'at Shema and goes to sleep - Berachot 4b explains that "it is a mitzvah" to recite the Shema before retiring. These statements are based on Psalms 4:5: "Tremble, but do not sin. Speak in your heart upon your bed and be still." Our Sages interpreted "Speak in your heart" and "upon your bed" as allusions to the phrases "with all your heart" and "upon your bed" in theShema.

That Talmudic passage implies that the reason for reciting the Shema before retiring is to protect oneself from undesirable influences during the night. According to Rashi (Berachot 2a) and others who allow the evening service to be recited before sunset, the recitation of Shema before retiring enables us to fulfill the mitzvah of Kri'at Shema at night. According to the writings of the Ari, the reciting of the Shema before retiring is a service of spiritual preparation for the soul's ascent from the body during sleep.

Since Berachot (ibid.) mentions that "it is a mitzvah" to recite the Shema before retiring, it was customary in certain communities to recite a blessing before reciting the Shema as is customary before performing other mitzvot. In his responsa (Pe'air HaDor 100), the Rambam specifically rules against reciting such a blessing. [However, note the Kolbo (29) who quotes the Rambam as stating in a responsa that such a blessing is required.]

[This applies] even if his wife is sleeping with him. - This line does not appear in either the Oxford or Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah. See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:ibid. which permits the recitation of the Shema while touching one's wife because one is familiar with her.

If he is overcome by sleep, - and cannot recite the entire first section, at the very least

he should read the first verse [of Kri'at Shema] - which contains the essential statement of the unity of God.

or verses of mercy - Berachot 4b-5a states:

Rabbi Nachman says: "A Torah scholar need not [recite Kri'at Shema before sleep] for his Torah will protect him."
Abbaye says: "Even a Torah scholar must recite at least one verse describing God's mercy, for example: 'Into Your hand I entrust my spirit, You will redeem me, God, God of truth' (Psalms 31:6).

Sh'vuot 16b mentions that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi would recite Psalm 91 as protection against unfavorable influences at night. Other verses that have a similar intent have been included by Kabbalistic authorities in the text of the Shema recited before retiring.

and, afterwards, he may go to sleep.

Commentary Halacha 3

When a person awakes after concluding his sleep, - I.e., in the morning when he has completed his night's sleep.

The Kessef Mishneh points out that although Berachot 60b states that one recites this blessing upon arising, the Rambam specifies that it be said only after concluding one's sleep. This makes it clear that a person who wakes up in the middle of the night and intends to return to sleep, need not recite this blessing.

while still in bed - Rabbenu Yonah (in his commentary to the Halachot of Rav Yitzchok Alfasi) takes issue with this statement. He writes:

This is difficult to understand. Since [upon waking] one's hands are not clean, how is it possible that [the Rambam] says that one should recite these blessings [while still in bed]. The Talmud mentions this [practice. However, this is because the Sages] were particularly holy. They would wash their hands [at night before sleep] and would be able to maintain a state [of purity] such that they could recite the blessings in the morning in cleanliness. We, however, are unable to maintain this state of cleanliness. Therefore, it is proper that we recite them only after נטילת ידים (the washing of the hands).

This position is widely accepted and is the basis of our practice today. See the commentary to Halachah 9.

he says: My Lord - In Hilchot Berachot 11:1, the Rambam writes:

All of the blessings begin with Baruch and conclude with Baruch except the final blessing of the blessings associated with the Shema, a blessing which follows directly after another blessing, and a blessing over fruit, those [blessings] which resemble it, or a blessing for mitzvot.

Given this statement, the commentaries wonder why this blessing does not begin with Baruch. Furthermore, in Hilchot Berachot 1:5, the Rambam writes that, unless a blessing follows another blessing, it must mention God's sovereignty over the world and no such mention is made in this blessing.

The Meiri in his commentary to Berachot (loc. cit.) offers the following resolution to these difficulties: Despite the fact that the entire period of a person's sleep divides between the recitation of hamapil and E-lohai Neshamah, the sleep is not considered as an interruption and E-lohai Neshamah is considered as following directly after hamapil. Accordingly, it is not required to begin with Baruch or mention God's sovereignty.

Other commentaries who follow different halachic perspectives than the Rambam offer these resolutions:
1) E-lohai Neshamah is a blessing of praise and prayer and does not require an opening phrase of blessing, in the same way that the blessing recited before travelling does not (Tosafot, Pesachim 104b).
2) E-lohai Neshamah is generally recited immediately after the blessing of אשר יצר and therefore can be considered as a blessing which follows another blessing.

the soul that You have placed within me - Each morning, we renew our thanks for the soul which God has returned to us, refreshed and revitalized.

is pure. - Despite his lowly physical state, man possesses an innate spirituality, a pure Godly soul, which is the source of all his positive actions and thoughts.

You have created it, You have formed it, You have breathed it into me - The three verbs used in this blessing correspond to three different descriptions of the creation of man in the Torah:
1) ויברא א-להים את האדם - "And the Lord created man" (Genesis 1:27).
2) א-להים את האדם וייצר ה' - "And God, the Lord, formed man" (Genesis 2:7).
3) ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים - "And He blew into his nostrils the soul of life" (ibid.).

These three verbs also relate to the three components of the soul, נפש, רוח, ונשמה (Maharsha, 14Berachot 60b).

In Kabbalah, the three verbs are understood as referring to the three worlds: עולם הבריאה - the world of creation, עולם היצירה - the world of form, and עולם העשיה - the world of physical action. The word טהרה - "pure" refers to עולם האצילות - the world of emanation, the highest of the four worlds. Thus, this prayer traces the descent of man's soul from God's Throne of Glory into the physical world.

and You preserve it within me. - Although the natural inclination of the soul is to return to its Source, God preserves its presence within the body in order that the person may serve His Creator in this world (Midrash Tehillim 62).

You will ultimately take it from me - at the time of death.

and restore it to me in the Time to Come - at the time of the resurrection of the dead.

As long as the soul is lodged - Though the word, "lodged," is present in the printed texts of the Mishneh Torah, it is lacking in most manuscripts. Similarly, it is not included in the text of the blessing in most siddurim.

within me, I am thankful before You, O God, my Lord, Master of all works. - Some siddurim add the phrase, "Lord of all souls," at this point so that the concluding phrase of the body of the blessing will correspond to the wording of the blessing itself.

Blessed are You, God, who restores souls to dead bodies. - Berachot 57b compares sleep to 1/60 of death. Therefore, waking can be compared to the resurrection of the dead (Rabbi Ya'akov Emden in his commentary on the siddur).

Commentary Halacha 4

In Halachot 4-6 the Rambam lists the seventeen blessings recited each morning, the ברכות השחר - Morning Blessings. These blessings are mentioned in Berachot 60b, albeit in a different order than that of the Rambam. The Lechem Mishneh explains that the sequence chosen by the Rambam reflects the order in which the corresponding actions are usually performed. See the commentary to Halachot 7 and 9.

When one hears the crow of a rooster, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who gives the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night. - Since the crowing of the rooster generally heralds the dawn, the Sages established this blessing in response to it.

The word שכוי is translated as "rooster" based on Rosh HaShanah 26a which refers to Job 38:36: "Who has put wisdom in the inward parts and [given] understanding to the rooster (שכוי)."

Rabbenu Asher (in his halachic commentary to Berachot) interprets שכוי as "heart." The heart is the source of understanding which allows man to distinguish between day and night.

When he puts on his clothes, - This refers to one's outer garment. Therefore, even a person who has slept in pajamas or in his underwear should recite this blessing (Pri Chadash, Orach Chayim 46).

he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who clothes the naked. - Understood simply, this blessing expresses our appreciation to God for the clothes we wear. On a deeper level, it also expresses our cognizance of the sanctity of physical modesty.

When he puts his cloth on his head - This blessing is also mentioned in Berachot, loc. cit. The Rambam interprets it as referring to an ordinary head covering. In contrast, Rabbenu Yitzchok Alfasi interprets the Talmud's statement as referring to donning the tallit.

Tosafot and other Ashkenazic authorities maintain that this blessing should be reciting upon putting on a hat, yarmulke, or other headcovering.

he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who crowns Israel in glory. - The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 46) associates this blessing with the prohibition of walking four cubits with one's head uncovered (Shabbat 118b; See Hilchot De'ot 5:6). Covering our heads symbolizes Israel's fear and awe before God's presence. This is their glory, as Isaiah 62:3 states: "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of God."

When he passes his hands over his eyes - In order to cause sleep to pass from their eyes, people often rub them vigorously.

Our text of Berachot (loc. cit.) states when "one opens his eyes." Many authorities favor this version over the text quoted by the Rambam (and Rav Yitzchok Alfasi) because Shabbat 108b warns of the dire consequences of touching one's eyes before washing one's hands in the morning. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 46:2) suggests that people might have avoided the problem by cleaning their eyes with a cloth or rubbing their eyes with closed eyelids (Sha'arei Teshuvah).

he recites: [Blessed...] who opens the eyes of the blind. - This blessing is based on Psalms 146:18 and can be interpreted as a statement of gratitude for more than our physical eyesight. We thank God for the ability to see His greatness in creation. These are our metaphorical "eyes of reason."

When he sits up in his bed, he recites: [Blessed...] who unties those bound. - thanking God for the ability to move our limbs after sleep.

When he lowers his feet from the bed and rests them on the ground, he recites: [Blessed...] who spreads the earth over the waters - This blessing is based on Psalms 136:6: "[Give thanks] to the One who spread the earth over the waters, for His lovingkindness is eternal."

When he stands up, he recites: [Blessed...] who straightens the bowed. - This is based on Psalms 146:8. This blessing expresses gratitude for the uniquely human characteristic of upright posture. It may also be interpreted as giving thanks to God, the source of salvation for those bowed and downtrodden.

The Tur (Orach Chayim 46) states that if one recites this blessing before the blessing "who unties those bound," he should refrain from reciting the latter blessing. Though there is some difference of opinion about the matter, most later authorities accept the Tur's decision.

When he washes his hands, - In Hilchot Berachot 6:2, the Rambam specifically states that one should recite this blessing before washing one's hands so that the blessing will precede the performance of the mitzvah (Pesachim 7a). Rabbenu Yonah states that one should not recite this blessing until after washing one's hands because until one has washed his hands, he is not in a fit state to mention God's name (See Mishnah Berurah 4:2). (According to others, the recitation of this blessing should be delayed until after drying one's hands.)

The Rambam obviously does not accept this rationale since he requires many blessings to be recited before the washing of the hands as above.

he recites: [Blessed...] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us - Although this washing was instituted by the Rabbis, this wording is appropriate, as is explained in Hilchot Berachot (loc. cit.).

regarding the washing of hands. - This washing is required in preparation for the recitation of the Shema and the morning service.

Based on the Zohar (Vol. I, 169b, 184b), the Rabbis rule that, on washing in the morning, one pours water over his hands three times alternately, i.e., once over the right hand, once over the left hand, once more over the right, etc. This is done in order to remove the spirit of impurity that remains after sleep.

When he washes his face - Note Chapter 4, Halachah 2, which states that a person must wash his face in the morning as a preparation for prayer.

he recites: - There are slight, but significant, differences between the text of the blessing here and its source in Berachot (loc. cit.).

Blessed are You, God, Our Lord, King of the universe, who removes the bonds of sleep from my eyes - The last traces of drowsiness disappear when one washes his face (Avudraham).

and slumber from my eyelids. May it be Your will, God, - This entire prayer is considered one blessing. Therefore, one should not recite "Amen" after hearing a colleague recite the opening sentence of the blessing (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 46:1). Tosafot (Berachot 46a) states that one should say "and may it be..." to emphasize that the prayer is a single blessing.

my Lord and Lord of my fathers, that You accustom me - The Rambam, and similarly the Tur, use the first person singular, thus, making the prayer an individual statement. However, most siddurim use the first person plural, "us."

to the performance of [Your] commandments and do not accustom me to sins or transgressions. Cause the positive inclination to rule over me and not the evil inclination. - Though we always have free will, we ask God to strengthen our potential for making the proper choice (Taz).

Strengthen me in Your commandments and grant my portion in Your Torah. Allow me to find favor, lovingkindness, and mercy in Your eyes and the eyes of all who see me and bestow upon me benevolent kindnesses. Blessed are You, God, who bestows benevolent kindnesses. - The kindnesses refer to the return of the soul in the morning (Tosafot, loc. cit.) and also the instilling of a spirit of purity within us (Rikanti).

Commentary Halacha 5

Whenever one enters the toilet, - This halachah is dealt with among the morning blessings, since a person generally relieves himself shortly after arising. Nevertheless, its instructions apply whenever one relieves himself.

[Note, however, the opinion quoted by the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 6:1, which maintains that the blessing, אשר יצר, can be considered as one of the morning blessings and should be recited even if one does not relieve oneself.]

before entering, he says: Be honored, holy honorable ones, servants of the Most High. - This statement is quoted from Berachot 60b, but there are slight variations between the way the passage appears in the Talmud, the manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah, and its published text.

In his commentary to Berachot, Rashi explains that this statement is addressed to the angels that accompany us at all times as Psalms 91:11 states: "He will command all His angels for you, to guard you in all your ways."

Help me. Help me. Guard me. Guard me. - I.e., continue to do that which you have been commanded even though I am about to take leave of you momentarily.

Wait for me - for it is not fitting for the angels to enter a toilet.

until I enter and come out, as this is the way of humans - The Avudraham states that this prayer should only be recited by extremely righteous men. Anyone else who recites it would appear conceited. For this reason, the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 3) rules that this prayer is not recited today.

After he - relieves himself, whether he defecated or urinated (Kessef Mishneh, in contrast to an opinion quoted by the Hagahot Maimoniot which rules that the blessing which follows should be recited only after defecating).

comes out, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who formed man in wisdom - See the Targum Yonaton to Ezekiel 28:12 which uses similar terms to praise the Divine wisdom manifest in the creation of the human body.

and created within him many openings and cavities. - e.g., the mouth, nose, anus.

It is revealed and known before the throne of Your glory that if one of them were to be blocked or if one of them were to be opened, it would be impossible to exist for even one moment - Tosafot (Berachot, loc. cit.) quotes Bereishit Rabbah (1:3) which states that unlike a manmade container which is unable to hold liquid when pierced by even the smallest pin, the body that God created is full of holes and cavities which open and close in a manner that allows man to continue to exist.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Shemini) relates:

Happy are you, Israel! A mitzvah was granted correspondent to each and every one of your limbs.... The numerical value of חלולים חלולים is 248, the number of limbs in the human body and the number of positive commandments in the Torah.

Blessed are You, God, who heals all flesh - This is based on Exodus 15:26: "For I am God, your healer."

and works wonders - This is based on Psalms 77:5: "You are the God who works wonders." The phrase מפליא לעשות is found, in a different context, in Judges 13:19.

The Darchei Moshe (Orach Chayim 6) explains that the wonders spoken of in this blessing refers to the maintenance of our spiritual soulsáwithin ouráphysical bodies. This may explain the accepted order of the blessings in which א-להי נשמה (Halachah 3) is recited immediately after this blessing, אשר יצר.

Commentary Halacha 6

When one fastens his belt, - The Rambam accepts the interpretation most commentaries have given to the words מייניה אסר in Berachot 60b, the source for this blessing. The Ra'avad interprets the Talmud as referring to putting on one's trousers.

he recites: [Blessed...universe], who girds Israel - The Taz (Orach Chayim 46) points out that, of the morning blessings, only this and the blessing uttered after covering one's head (עוטר ישראל בתפארה) mention Israel. The other blessings praise God for kindnesses enjoyed by all people. In contrast, these two blessings highlight actions performed by the Jewish people as an expression of modesty. The belt is intended to separate the heart from the lower half of the body (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 2:7 and 3:17). The covering of one's head signifies one's awareness of the Divine Presence, as stated above (See Halachah 4).

The Avudraham notes that this blessing is conceptually rooted in Jeremiah 12:11: "'As a girdle clings to a man's loins so have I caused the whole of the House of Israel and the House of Judah to cleave unto Me,' says God; 'that they might be unto Me, a people, a name, a praise and a glory.'”

with strength - The Avodat Yitzchok explains that a belt or girdle protects a person's body and affords him greater strength. Rav Asher of Lunil explains that this blessing refers to the spiritual strength granted to Israel through Torah study.

When he puts on his shoes, he recites: [Blessed...universe] for You have provided me - Our text follows the published text of the Mishneh Torah. The same text is also quoted by Rav Yitzchok Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher.

However, our text of Berachot (loc. cit.), the source for this blessing, reads: שעשה לי כל צרכי - "who provides me with all my needs"; referring to God in the third person rather than in the second person. This version is found in most siddurim today. It is also found in the authoritative Oxford manuscript of the Mishneh Torah and many Yemenite manuscripts.

with all my needs - Several different explanations are given for the association of this blessing with the putting on of one's shoes. The Avudraham states simply that a person is unable to move about freely without shoes. Therefore, putting on shoes enables him to acquire whatever he needs.

Rav Shlomo Kluger cites our Sages' statement, "A person should sell everything he owns and buy shoes," as evidence that a person who has shoes to wear has acquired that which is most necessary.

The Sh'loh quotes the Maharshal as explaining the source for this blessing as Psalms 8:6-9.

You have made him [man] a little lower than angels.... You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands. You have put everything under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the fish of the seas.

Wearing leather shoes demonstrates the way in which the animal kingdom has been placed "under man's feet" and makes us aware that the dominion we have been granted over all creation allows us to acquire "all our needs."

When he walks to depart on his way, he recites: - Our text of Berachot 60b and similarly, most contemporary siddurim, place this blessing before the previous one. Nevertheless, Rav Yitzchok Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher follow the same order as the Rambam.

[Blessed... universe] who prepares the steps of man - This blessing is based on Psalms 37:23: "The steps of man are ordered by God" and Proverbs 20:24: "The steps of man are from God," both of which imply that in addition to giving man the ability to walk, God also guides the direction of his steps.

[Also,] every day, a person should recite: - Based on Menachot 43b, the following three blessings are recited daily as an expression of thanks for the renewal of our being. Some authorities require a person to have seen a gentile, woman, or slave before reciting the appropriate blessing. However, the Rambam maintains that the blessing should be recited each morning unconditionally (The Responsa of Rav Avraham, the Rambam's son).

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a non-Jew - We thank God for creating us with the opportunity to relate to Him through the Torah and mitzvot which were given only to the Jews.

Menachot (loc. cit.) uses a positive statement for the formula of this blessing: "Blessed... who has made me a Jew." Rabbenu Asher quotes this text. The Rambam's version is found in the Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 9:2. Rabbenu Yitzchok Alfasi also follows the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Levush, Orach Chayim 46, explains the reason for reciting the blessing in the negative: Eruvin 13a states that it would have been better for man not to have been created than to have been created (i.e., man's soul was in a higher state before its descent into the world than it is while in this world). Therefore, we do not express thanks for being created. Nevertheless, having been created, we thank God for not creating us as gentiles since gentiles have a far lesser number of commandments to fulfill.

The Bayit Chadash explains that the negative formula was chosen for the following reason. Our Sages required that we recite three blessings each morning. Torah law states that whenever a single blessing covers two different circumstances, the second blessing may not be recited. Therefore, since a statement thanking God "for making me a Jew" would make the blessing for "not making me a servant" superfluous, it is preferable to recite this blessing using the negative formula.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman - A woman is not obligated to fulfill all the positive mitzvot whose performance is limited to a specific time. As a result, a man has many more mitzvot to fulfill and recites this blessing thanking God for that privilege.

The Tur (Orach Chayim 46) mentions that a woman should recite a blessing thanking God "for making me according to His will."

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a servant - i.e., a Canaanite servant who is not a full member of the Jewish people (see Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 13:11). Like women, a Canaanite servant is exempt from all the positive mitzvot whose performance is limited to a specific time.

The published text of the Mishneh Torah and Menachot (loc. cit.) list these blessings in this order. However, the authoritative manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah, Rav Yitzchok Alfasi, and most siddurim today reverse the sequence of the last two blessings. This order reflects an ascending hierarchy, with women who are endowed with the holiness of the Jewish people, placed after servants.

Commentary Halacha 7

These eighteen blessings - Only seventeen blessings are recited in the morning. The eighteenth blessing is hamapil, the blessing recited before retiring at night. Nevertheless, as explained in the commentary to Halachah 3, the Rambam views it as connected to the morning blessings.

The eighteen blessings correspond to the eighteen blessings of the Shemoneh Esreh, and also to the number of times God's name is mentioned in Psalms 29, in the song sung by the Jewish People after the splitting of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-19), and in the three sections of Kri'at Shema. (See also our commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 4.)

do not have a particular order - as might be inferred from the previous halachot. (The practice of reciting the blessings in a set order is discussed in Halachah 9.)

Rather, one recites each of them in response to the condition for which the blessing was instituted, at the appropriate time. - The Rambam's statements in this and the following two halachot are all based on the idea that these blessings are ברכות הודאה - "blessings of thanks." Therefore, a person who does not receive the benefit associated with a particular blessing does not recite the blessing thanking God for that particular condition.

Rav Natrunai Gaon and Rav Amram Gaon differ with the Rambam. They consider these blessings to be ברכות שבח - "blessings of praise" for the goodness which God has granted the world as a whole and not thanks for benefit which one has derived as an individual. This opinion is accepted by the Ramah (Orach Chayim 46) and other Ashkenazic halachic authorities. The Shulchan Aruch and the Sephardic authorities accept the Rambam's view with certain reservations.

What is implied? - As the Rambam explained, each blessing is recited in response to a particular action generally carried out each morning. Therefore, should these actions be performed in a different order, the sequence of the blessings is changed correspondingly.

One who fastens his belt while still in his bed recites [the blessing] "who girds Israel with strength" - Although in Halachah 6, the Rambam stated that this blessing should be recited after one has gotten off his bed, if one fastens his belt while still in bed, he recites the appropriate blessing at that time.

One who hears the voice of the rooster recites [the blessing] "who gives understanding to the rooster" - This halachah is restated here as a prelude to the law that follows, i.e., that one not obligated in a blessing should not recite it. According to the Rambam, one who did not hear a rooster in the morning does not recite the blessing of הנותן לשכוי בינה.

Any blessing in which one is not obligated - because one has not personally derived the benefit associated with the mitzvah

should not be recited - As mentioned above, this is one of the differences between the Rambam's conception of the morning blessings and that of the other Geonim, who maintain that the blessings should be recited regardless. In consideration of the Rambam's position, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 46:8) suggests reciting the blessings without mentioning God's name. The Ramah maintains that one should follow the other opinion.

Even among those who accept the Rambam's conception of these blessings, some authorities would disagree regarding this particular blessing. With this blessing, we are not thanking God for hearing the rooster's crow itself, but for the benefit which we receive from the daylight which the rooster discerns. (See Tosafot and Rabbenu Asher, Berachot 60b.)

Commentary Halacha 8

What is implied? - This halachah exemplifies the final principle mentioned in the previous halachah, that a person should not recite a blessing if he does not derive the benefit associated with it.

One who sleeps in his outer garment - in contrast to pajamas or underwear

should not recite the blessing "who clothes the naked" upon rising. - Since, though he is clothed, he performed the activity associated with the blessing on the previous day.

One who walks barefoot does not recite the blessing, "for You have provided me with all my needs." - the blessing associated with wearing shoes.

On Yom Kippur and the ninth of Av, when one does not wash, - Washing is one of the five afflictions forbidden on these two days. See Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor 1:5 and 3:1-6 and Hilchot Ta'aniot 5:10.

one does not recite the blessing al netilat yadayim, - In Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor 3:2, the Rambam qualifies the prohibition against washing by stating: "One [who is] soiled from excrement or dirt may wash the dirty area in the normal fashion without worry." He also allows a woman to wash her hands in order to feed her child.

The source for the Rambam's statements, Yoma 77b, explains that the reason for this leniency is the presence of shivta on her hands. Rashi interprets this as רוח רעה, the spirit of impurity which rests on our hands before the morning washing.

Tosafot (Yoma, ibid.) rules that one does wash his hands upon rising in the morning on Yom Kippur since רוח רעה is considered like any filth and may be removed in its normal fashion. As apparent from the previous halachot, the Rambam does not consider רוח רעה as a significant factor and forbids such washing. (See Lechem Mishneh, Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor.)

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 613:2) accepts Tosafot's opinion and states:

One washes his hands in the morning [on Yom Kippur] and recites על נטילת ידים. One should be careful to wash only the ends of the joints of his fingers.

The Ramah adds: "And he should not intend to enjoy the washing, and do so [only] to remove the רוח רעה from his hands."

nor the blessing "who removes the bonds of sleep..." - which is associated with washing one's face. Since washing in this manner is prohibited on these days, one does not recite this blessing.

This ruling is also questioned by other halachic authorities. The Ra'avad states that since it is permissible to clean one's face if it is dirty, one may clean the dirt that collects in one's eyes overnight and recite the blessing associated with this washing.

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 613:4 rules that one who is particularly fastidious may wash his face with water on the morning of Yom Kippur. The Ramah adds that the custom is to be very strict in this regard and not even to wash the eyes. The Mishnah Berurah (basing himself on the Bayit Chadash) permits one to moisten his fingertips and clean the dirt from his eyes. All of these laws regarding Yom Kippur also apply to the ninth of Av.

One who does not relieve himself - in the morning.

does not recite the blessing, "who created man in wisdom...." - as part of the morning blessings.

The same applies regarding the remainder of the blessings. - Though Ashkenazic authorities do not accept the Rambam's ruling as explained above, we do find a law which parallels the Rambam's stance here. Even according to the Ashkenazic authorities, one should not recite the blessing "who has provided me with all my needs" on Yom Kippur or Tish'ah B'Av, since it is forbidden for everyone to wear shoes on these days.

Commentary Halacha 9

It is the custom of the people in the majority of our cities to recite these blessings one after another in the synagogue, whether or not they are obligated in them. - This practice has its source in the opinions of the other Geonim mentioned above. The Tur (Orach Chayim 46) explains the custom:

Since one's hand are not clean [upon rising], the [rabbis] instituted the practice of reciting the [blessings] in order in the synagogue. [Another reason for the institution of this practice is that] many of the common people do not know how to recite the [blessings] and when they are recited in the synagogue, they can answer "Amen" afterwards, and thus, fulfill their obligation.

This is a mistake and it is not proper to follow this practice. One should not recite a blessing unless he is obligated to. - The Kessef Mishneh explains that the Rambam sees two difficulties in this practice:
a) The blessings are not recited at their proper time, i.e., immediately after the action to which they are a response;
b) In the synagogue, all the blessings are recited and it is improper to recite a blessing that one is not obligated to recite.

In answer to the first objection, Rabbenu Asher and Rabbenu Yonah explain that there is no problem with reciting these blessings after the actions to which they relate have been completed. The only blessings that must be recited in direct conjunction with the deed with which they are associated are those recited before fulfilling commandments. However, blessings of thanks or praise may be uttered later. This opinion is accepted by all Ashkenazic authorities.

Today, many people recite these blessings at home after washing and dressing. In certain communities, they are recited communally in the synagogue. In all cases, however, each individual who is able to read the blessings from a siddur or knows them by heart should recite the blessings himself every morning.

Commentary Halacha 10

One who rises to study Torah, whether the Written or Oral Law, - There is debate in the Talmud about this matter. Some Sages did not require the recitation of a blessing for the study of certain portions of the Oral Law (See Berachot 11b). Nevertheless, the decision quoted by the Rambam is accepted by all halachic authorities. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 47:2 explains the reason for this decision, "They [all portions of the Oral Law] are all Torah and were given to Moses at Mount Sinai."

before he recites the Shema, - Berachot 11b states:

Once one has recited the Shema, he need not recite a blessing [for Torah study] since he has fulfilled his obligation with Ahavah Rabbah (the second blessing before the Shema).

This blessing praises God for teaching our ancestors "the laws that bring eternal life" and includes our prayers that He "grant our hearts understanding... to learn and to teach... all the teachings of Your Torah." Therefore, Ahavah Rabbah is considered as comparableáto the blessings recited before Torah study (Rashi, Berachot, ibid.).

Rabbenu Asher quotes an opinion in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 5:1) which states that the blessing of Ahavah Rabbah can replace the blessings before the study of the Torah only when one studies immediately after reciting the Shema and Shemoneh Esreh. The Ra'avad and the Rashba, however, maintain that the recitation of the Shema is also considered as Torah study. Therefore, if one recites the Shema after Ahavah Rabbah, one is considered to have fulfilled his obligation.

The Rambam appears to follow the latter opinion, however, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 47:8) accepts Rabbenu Asher's view.

should wash his hands beforehand, - to fulfill the obligation of נטילת ידים upon rising in the morning.

recite [the following] three blessings, and then study. - Both here and in Halachah 11, the Rambam states that one must study immediately after reciting these blessings. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 47) explains the motivating principle: All blessings recited before the performance of a commandment must be followed immediately by the fulfillment of the commandment.

This position is, however, not universally accepted. Tosafot (Berachot 11b), Rabbenu Yonah, and the Mordechai disagree and do not require the repetition of the blessings even if an interruption was made between their recitation and Torah study. The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.,:9) warns against making such an interruption.

[The comparison of the blessings before Torah study to the blessings of the mitzvot is not universally accepted. In addition to the opinion of the Ramban mentioned in the following halachah, the Levush (Orach Chayim 47) compares the blessings before Torah study to the blessings recited before partaking of food. Just as one thanks God for the satisfaction granted from food and other physical things, one blesses Him for the satisfaction derived from Torah study. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 47:1, Likkutei Sichot Vol. 14.]

[These blessings] are: [Blessed... universe] who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the words of Torah. - There are two different versions of this blessing:
a) one which has its source in the published text of the Talmud, Berachot 11b, and concludes: לעסוק בדברי תורה - "to occupy [ourselves] in the words of Torah."
b) the version quoted by the Rambam: על דברי תורה - "concerning the words of Torah." This version is also found in the siddur of Rav Amram Gaon and the Halachot of Rav Yitzchok Alfasi.

The siddurim of the Sephardim, Yemenites and Nusach Ari follow the Rambam's text, whereas Nusach Ashkenaz reads לעסוק בדברי תורה.
[

In both versions, this blessing contains thirteen words corresponding to the thirteen principles of Biblical exegesis that apply to the Torah (יºג מדות שהתורה נדרשת בהן, Shulchan Tahor).]

And - The presence here of the Hebrew letter vav (ו) which is generally translated as "and" is the subject of much discussion among the Rabbis.

Tosafot (Berachot 46a) explains that, according to Rabbenu Tam, any blessing that follows another blessing of only a single line must itself begin "Blessed are You..." and cannot be included in the phrase "Blessed are You..." in the first blessing. Therefore, since this paragraph does not begin "Blessed are You...," it appears to be a continuation of the first blessing and not a blessing of its own. The vav - "and" - indicates the connection between the two paragraphs.

The Rambam, however, clearly states that the second paragraph is considered as a blessing in its own right and not a continuation of the first blessing. The vav would, therefore, appear to be superfluous. Though most printed texts of the Mishneh Torah include a vav, the authoritative Oxford manuscript of the Mishneh Torah, the Yemenite manuscripts, and the Ramah's text of the Mishneh Torah all lack a vav. (Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 47:5, which explains that even according to the opinion that the second paragraph is a separate blessing, adding the vav is in place.)

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 47:6 rules that the vav should be recited. The Ramah adds that although the custom is not to say it, it should be said. Most siddurim of Nusach Ashkenaz and Sefard include the vav.

please, God, our Lord, make pleasant the words of Your Torah - We ask God to let us appreciate the sweetness of His Torah so that we will study it with love (Rashi, Berachot 11b).

in our mouths and in the mouths of Your people, the entire House of Israel. May we, our offspring, - The Bayit Chadash adds "and our offsprings' offspring" as a reference to the statement (Bava Metzia 85a) that the Torah will never depart from a family which has three generations of Torah scholars. However, this version is not included in many siddurim.

and the offspring of Your people, be knowers of Your name and among those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. Blessed are You, God, who teaches Torah to His people, Israel. - This version is found in the published texts of the Mishneh Torah and the published texts of Berachot 11b, the source for this blessing. However, in his responsa, the Rambam suggests a different conclusion for this blessing: "Blessed are You, God, the Giver of the Torah." He explains the reasons why he favors the latter version:

This [wording] alludes to our recognition that God gave us the Torah so that we will learn to do everything it states. [The blessing is a request] that He open our hearts to the study of Torah, for this was the reason it was given to us as a heritage.
However, to conclude [the blessing with] "who teaches Torah..." is incorrect, for God... does not teach us the Torah. Though in His love for us, He separated us from the gentiles and gave us the Torah of truth, the actual performance of the mitzvah is left to us and doing His will is in our hands.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has chosen us from among all the nations and given us His Torah. - The designation of Israel as God's chosen people is associated with His giving them the Torah on Mount Sinai (Tur, Orach Chayim 47).

Blessed are You, God, who gives the Torah - Berachot (loc. cit.) refers to this as "the most exalted of these blessings" because it contains thanks to God and praise of Israel and the Torah (Rashi).

Rabbenu Yonah points out that although this blessing follows directly after another blessing, it departs from the normal pattern of such blessings and begins "Blessed are You...." He explains that this is because this blessing is also often recited in isolation, before the reading of the Torah in the synagogue.

The recitation of the blessings of the Torah is very important. Bava Metzia 85a states that Eretz Yisrael was destroyed because the Jews forsook the Torah. Our Sages clarified that statement, explaining that it means that the people would study Torah without reciting the blessings before it. A person who studies Torah without reciting the blessings fails to realize its holiness and sanctity, therefore, it is considered as if he ""forsook the Torah.''

Commentary Halacha 11

One is obligated to recite these three blessings - The nature of this obligation is debated among the commentaries. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 47) and others understand the Rambam as considering these blessings similar to any other blessing recited before the performance of a mitzvah and hence, of Rabbinic origin.

Nevertheless, Berachot 21a and Yoma 37a state that the obligation to recite a blessing on Torah study stems from the Torah itself. In keeping with this view, the Ramban (Hosafot to Sefer HaMitzvot, positive commandment 15) reckons the recitation of the blessings of the Torah as a separate mitzvah.

every day. - Perhaps with the words "every day," the Rambam is implying that these blessings should be recited even if one does not sleep at night. See Magen Avraham 47:11.

The blessings are recited only once a day. In contrast to the blessings recited over other mitzvot, even if one interrupts his study and occupies himself with other matters, one need not recite a second blessing. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav 4:7 gives two reasons for this difference:
1) The blessings before the Torah resemble the other morning blessings. A person enjoys the benefits associated with the morning blessings intermittently throughout the day, yet he only recites the blessings once in the morning. Similarly, though one may study at several different occasions in a single day, the blessings are recited only once daily.
2) The obligation to study Torah is incumbent upon one throughout the entire day and, at all times, one's attention should be on one's studies.

Afterwards, one should read a few words of Torah. - If these blessings are comparable to other blessings recited before the performance of mitzvot, the mitzvah (studying Torah) must also be fulfilled immediately after the recitation of the blessing (Kessef Mishneh).

[To fulfill this obligation,] the people adopted the custom of reading the Priestly Blessing. - The Priestly Blessing is found in Numbers 6:22-27. Tosafot (Berachot 11b) also mentions the custom of reciting the Priestly Blessing each morning and Rav Amram Gaon includes the Priestly Blessing in his siddur.

The Avudraham mentions that the recitation of these verses arouses Divine blessing for the Jewish people. The Even Yarchi notes that the verses of the Priestly Blessing contain 60 letters, corresponding to the 60 tractates in the Talmud.

In certain places, they recite [the passage (Numbers 28:1-9)]: "Command the children of Israel...," - These verses describe the morning sacrifice offered daily in the Holy Temple. The Machzor Vitri (an early siddur of French origin) does not include the Priestly Blessing and mentions these verses instead.

and there are places where they read both of them - In the Order of the Prayers for the Entire Year found at the conclusion of Sefer Ahavah, the Rambam includes both these passages, with the verses describing the sacrifices preceding the Priestly Blessings.

The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 47:9) both understand the Priestly Blessing to be a fulfillment of the requirement to study Torah after the blessings. The verses of the Daily Sacrifice are recited later, with the intention that our recitation of these verses will compensate for our inability to actually offer these sacrifices (Ta'anit 27b, Orach Chayim 48).

Also, [it is proper] to read chapters or laws from the Mishnah and the Beraitot. - so that we will have studied passages from the written law, the Mishnah, and the Talmud and thus, emphasize how our obligation to study Torah applies to all three. Note Kiddushin 30a and Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:11, which advises one to divide his Torah study, a third in the Written Law, a third in Mishnah and a third in Talmud.

In his Order of Prayers, the Rambam lists the following passages from the oral law after the the Priestly Blessings:

These are the precepts for which no fixed limit is prescribed: Pe'ah (the corners of the field left unharvested for the needy, Leviticus 23:22), Bikkurim (the first fruits, Exodus 23:19), HaRei'on (the pilgrimage offerings, Deuteronomy 16:16-17), acts of kindness and the study of Torah. [A Mishnah, Pe'ah 1:1.]
These are the precepts, the fruits of which a person enjoys in this world, while the principle remains [for him] in the world to come: Honoring one's mother and father, acts of kindness, concentration during prayer, visiting the sick, waking early to go to the study hall, hospitality to guests, bringing peace between man and his fellow man, and the study of Torah, which is equivalent to them all. [A beraita, Shabbat 127a]
Rav Zeira says: "Jewish women imposed a stringent practice upon themselves. Even if they saw a drop of [vaginal] blood the size of a mustard seed, they would count seven clean days after it." [An example of Torah law, Berachot 31a, Nidah 66a, and Megillah 28b]
It was taught in the School of Elijah: Whoever studies Torah law every day is assured of life in the world to come [as implied by Chabakuk 3:6]: "Halichot (the paths of) the world are his." Do not read halichot, but halachot (Torah laws) [Megillah 28b].
Rabbi Eliezer said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: Torah scholars increase peace in the world as [implied by Isaiah 54:13]: "And all your children will be students of God and great will be the peace of your children." [Berachot 64a.]

Commentary Halacha 12

The Sages praised - Rav Kapach notes that at the beginning of this chapter, the Rambam attributes the order of the prayers to the Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah. Therefore, we can assume that they also instituted the practice of reciting verses of praise before the blessings of the Shema. (Note the statement of Rabbi Simlai, Berachot 32a, which suggests praising God before reciting the Shemoneh Esreh.) Though from the passage from Shabbat quoted below one might infer that the recitation of these verses was instituted later, perhaps this refers to the designation of the specific verses to be recited, while the practice of reciting verses itself had already existed.

those who recite songs from the Book of Psalms every day; from "A song of praise by David... (Tehillah l'David)" (Psalms 145) - Berachot 4b states that anyone who recites Psalms 145 three times each day is guaranteed a place in the World to Come.

until the end of the Book [of Psalms] - Shabbat 118b relates:

Rabbi Yossi said: "May my portion be with those who complete [the recitation of] Hallel every day."
That cannot be. Behold, the master taught that one who recites Hallel every day is considered as a blasphemer and abuser.
In regard to what did [Rabbi Yossi] make his statement? In regard to פסוקי דזמרא - the verses of song.

The Rambam understands פסוקי דזמרא as referring to the last six chapters of Psalms (Kessef Mishneh). This definition is also accepted by Rav Yitzchok Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher.

It has become customary to read verses before and after them - In his Order of Prayers for the Entire Year, the Rambam mentions a series of verses from Psalms and from I Chronicles 29:10-14 which are recited before and after these six Psalms. See Soferim 17:11. These verses are customarily recited today in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities.

They instituted a blessing before the [recitation of the] songs, Baruch She'amar..., - Tradition states that the Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah received this blessing and the blessing,Yishtabach, from Heaven. Therefore, our custom is to recite these blessings standing (Or Zerua).

The Pri Chadash takes issue with this view and maintains that these blessings were instituted by the Geonim after the conclusion of the Talmud. Though the Or Zerua's opinion is based only on "tradition," the fact that the Jerusalem Talmud refers to these blessings, as mentioned below, indicates that they were recited during the Talmudic era.

and a blessing after [concluding] them, Yishtabach. - The Hagahot Maimoniot explain that the blessings, Baruch She'amar and Yishtabach are considered a single unit. Therefore, Yishtabach is considered a blessing which follows directly after another blessing - despite the verses recited between the two blessings. Accordingly, it does not begin "Blessed are You, God...."

Though the verses of פסוקי דזמרא are not considered an interruption between the blessings, idle conversation certainly would be. Thus, the Jerusalem Talmud rules that anyone who talks between Baruch She'amar and Yishtabach has transgressed and is not fit to be part of the Jewish army (which must be composed only of righteous men).

Afterwards, one recites the blessings for Kri'at Shema and recites the Shema - See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:5-8.

Commentary Halacha 13

There are places where they are accustomed to recite the Song of the Sea (Exodus 14:30-15:26) each day - The Zohar (II:54b) states that anyone who recites this song at present will merit to recite it in the Messianic age.

See also the Tosefta, Berachot (2:1) and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 66:4 which emphasize (albeit in a different context) that the obligation to recall the exodus from Egypt each day should also include the recollection of the miracle of the splitting of the sea.

after they recite Yishtabach. - In his siddur, Rav Sa'adia Gaon writes that "though this is a fine custom, it is not obligatory or necessary."

Afterwards, they recite the blessings for the Shema - It is improper to make an interruption between Yishtabach and the blessings of the Shema. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 54:3) However, verses of praise and prayer are not considered an interruption. Note the custom of reciting Shir hama'alot at this point in prayer during the Ten Days of Repentance.

Today, we recite the Song of the Sea before Yishtabach. Sefer HaBatim suggests that this is because it is also praise of God and thus, is appropriate within the context of פסוקי דזמרא.

There are places where they recite the song of Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-43) - Ha'azinu is also a song of general relevance. The Maggid of Meseritch advised reciting it daily as a means of evoking Divine blessing.

Among Sephardic Jews, there is a custom to recite Ha'azinu in place of the Song of the Sea on the Tish'ah b'Av because of the verses of reproof contained in it (Ma'aseh Rokeach).

and there are individuals who recite both of them. Everything is dependent on custom.

Commentary Halacha 14

A person is obligated to recite 100 blessings [in the period of one] day and night - Menachot 43b relates:

Rabbi Meir used to say: "One is obligated to recite 100 blessings every day as [implied by Deuteronomy 10:12]: 'And now Israel, what is it that God, your Lord, asks of you.'”

Rashi explains that the word, מה- "what" can be read as מאה - "100", allowing for the interpretation, "And now Israel, 100 [blessings] is what God, your Lord, asks of you."

The Tur (Orach Chayim 46) quotes Rav Natrunai Gaon who attributes the institution of this custom to King David.

What are these 100 blessings? The twenty-three blessings that we have counted in this chapter, - i.e., the eighteen blessings discussed in Halachot 1-9, the three blessings recited before studying Torah (see Halachot 10, 11) and the two blessings associated with פסוקי דזמרא (see Halachah 12).

the seven blessings before and after Kri'at Shema in the morning and in the evening - Two blessings before the Shema and one blessing afterwards in the morning; two blessings before the Shema and two afterwards in the evening. (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:5.)

When one wraps himself in tzitzit, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit - See Hilchot Tzitzit 3:8.

When he puts on his tefillin, he recites: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to put on tefillin - Note Hilchot Tefilin 4:5, where the Rambam states that only one blessing should be recited when putting on tefillin. Other authorities require two blessings to be recited: one, on the Tefilah placed on the arm, and another, on the Tefilah placed on the head. See also the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:9 and the Ramah's notes there.

[One recites] three Amidot, each of which contains eighteen blessings. - The Rambam mentions the addition of the nineteenth blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh in the next halachah. Here he is discussing the 100 blessings in their original historical context.

Behold, this is 86 blessings - i.e., the 23 of the morning blessings, the 7 associated with the Shema, 1 on tefillin, 1 on tzitzit, and 54 (18x3) from the three Shemoneh Esreh prayers.

When one eats two meals, [one] during the day and [one] at night, - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Pe'ah 8:7, the Rambam explains that two meals, one during the day and one at night, is the normal fare for a person each day.

one recites 14 blessings, seven for each meal: one when he washes his hands before eating - See Hilchot Berachot 6:2.

and on the food itself, one before - HaMotzi. See Hilchot Berachot 3:2.

and three afterwards - These are the three blessings which constitute the Torah's requirement for the grace after meals:
1) ברכת הזן,
2) ברכת הארץ, and
3) בונה ירושלים

See Hilchot Berachot 2:1. The Rambam mentions the fourth blessing included in the grace in the next halachah.

on the wine, one before - See Hilchot Berachot 7:14-15 which mentions the custom of reciting the grace after meals over a cup of wine. Before drinking from that wine, one recites the blessing: borey pri hagefen.

and one afterwards - i.e., מעין שלש - the blessing which is reciting after drinking wine. See Hilchot Berachot 8:15.

[a total] of seven. Thus, there are 100 blessings all told.

Commentary Halacha 15

At present, since the [Sages] established the blessing [cursing] the heretics in prayer - See Chapter 2:1.

and added hatov v'hameitiv in the grace after meals, - This refers to the fourth blessing of the grace after meals. As explained in Hilchot Berachot 2:1, this blessing was instituted later than the first three blessings, its recitation having been ordained by the Sages of the Mishnah.

there are five more blessings. - recited every day.

On Sabbaths and holidays, - Yom Kippur presents a particular problem for although there are five prayer services, one is not permitted to eat and cannot recite blessings over food.

when the Amidah contains [only] seven blessings - See Chapter 2, Halachah 5.

and similarly, on other days, if one is not obligated in all of these blessings - This follows the Rambam's view (see Halachot 7-9) that a person should not recite the morning blessings unless he performs the actions with which they are associated.

e.g., one did not sleep at night, - If a person does not sleep at night, he misses at least two blessings: hamapil (Halachah 1) and E-lohai neshamah (Halachah 3). According to some opinions, he also should not recite hama'avir sheinah (Halachah 4).

nor loosen his belt, - in which case, he would not be obligated to recite the blessing, ozer Yisrael b'gevurah - "who girds Israel with strength" - upon fastening it the following morning.

nor go to the bathroom, - in which case, he is exempt from the blessing of asher yatzar discussed in Halachah 5.

or the like - i.e., any one of the morning blessings, with the exception of shelo asani goy, shelo asani aved, shelo asani isha.

he must complete the 100 blessings by [reciting blessings over] fruits. - as explained in Halachah 16.

Menachot 43b, the source for the requirement to recite 100 blessings, also recognized the difficulties inherent in fulfilling that requirement on the Sabbaths and holidays, and advises completing the sum of 100 blessings by reciting blessings before smelling spices or before eating sweets.

The Hagahot Maimoniot quotes an opinion that allows the blessings recited on the reading of the Torah and haftorah to be included in the calculation of the 100 blessings. This yields another 27 blessings. For this reason, Hagahot Maimoniot suggests that the blessings on the Torah should be recited loudly so that those present are able to answer "Amen." The Magen Avraham (46:8) suggests that one should rely on this opinion only when he cannot recite sufficient blessings on fruits.

Commentary Halacha 16

What is implied? - I.e., how does one supplement the number of blessings recited on the Sabbath and festivals.

[When] one eats a small amount of vegetables, he recites a blessing before - borey pri ha'adamah (Hilchot Berachot 8:1).

and after it. - borey nefashot (ibid.).

[When] he eats a small amount of a particular fruit, he recites a blessing before - borey pri ha'etz (ibid.)

and after it. - borey nefashot or al hapeirot (ibid.).

He should count all the blessings [he recites] until he completes [the requirement of] 100 each day. - The Rambam's choice of words implies that each day, a person should carefully keep track of the number of blessings he recites until he fulfills the requirement.

Note the comments of the Lechem Mishneh who explains that although one should try to recite 100 blessings each day, one should be careful not to recite unnecessary blessings.

Commentary Halacha 17

In this and the following halachah, the Rambam summarizes the order of an individual's daily prayers from rising in the morning until the Evening Service. In the following two chapters, the Rambam deals with the subject of communal prayer.

The order of prayer is as follows: In the morning, a person should rise early - so that he will be able to complete the recitation of the Shema and the blessing which follows it before sunrise, Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:11).

and recite the blessings [mentioned above]. - i.e., the morning blessings mentioned in Halachot 3-6, 10-11.

[Then,] he recites the songs [of praise] and the blessings before and after them. - as explained in Halachah 12.

[Afterwards,] he recites the Shema, - in fulfillment of his obligation to recite the Shema each day (Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:1).

[together with] the blessings before and after it. - the two blessings before the Shema and the one blessing afterwards (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:5).

He should omit the Kedushah - The passage which quotes the praises of the angels who recite "Holy, Holy, Holy is the God of Hosts, the whole world is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3) and "Blessed is the honor of God from His place" (Ezekiel 3:12). This passage is recited three times during the morning service, once in the first blessing before Kri'at Shema, once in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, and once at the conclusion of the service. (See Chapter 9, Halachot 4-5.)

from the first blessing before [the Shema] - Precisely which portion of the blessing to omit is a matter of debate among the Rabbis. See Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 59.

because an individual - praying without a quorum (minyan)

does not recite Kedushah. - As stated in Chapter 8, Halachot 4-6, any "holy matter" should not be recited in the absence of a minyan of ten people. The Kedushah recited when repeating the Shemoneh Esreh is considered as a "holy matter" of this nature. (See Berachot 21b, Megillah 23b. See also Chapter 8, Halachah 4, and Chapter 9, Halachah 5 for a discussion of the text of Kedushah.)

In this halachah, the Rambam equates all three recitations of the Kedushah in the morning service. The Tur (Orach Chayim 59) cites Rav Natrunai Gaon as also sharing this opinion. There is no specific Talmudic or Midrashic source to this effect. However, the Zohar (Vol. II, 129b, 132b) also considers all three recitations of Kedushah to be bound by the same rulings.

Rabbenu Yonah quotes the opinion of the Ashkenazic authorities who distinguish between these recitations of Kedushah. They maintain that since, in the repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, we liken ourselves to the angels and recite the same praises, a minyan is necessary. However, the other Kedushot are simply narrative descriptions of the praises uttered by the angels and therefore, do not require a minyan.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 59:3) quotes the Rambam's position. The Ramah concludes that even an individual should recite the blessing without deleting the Kedushah.

The Kessef Mishneh writes that Rabbi Avraham, the Rambam's son, states that his father later changed his position regarding this halachah and wrote in a responsum that one should recite Kedushah even without a quorum of ten. This is also recorded by Orchot Chayim, Rashba, and Rabbenu Manoach. However, there are other responsa which indicate that the Rambam did not change his mind.

When he concludes [the blessing,] ga'al Yisrael, - The blessing beginning Emet v'yatziv, which follows the recitation of the Shema.

he should stand immediately to connect [the blessing of] redemption to prayer - Berachot 42a relates: "prayer should follow immediately after [the blessing of] redemption."

Berachot 9b states:

One who connects [the blessing of] redemption to prayer will not be harmed the whole day...[Rav Bruna] was a great man who experienced intense joy in his [performance of] mitzvot. One day, he connected [the blessing of] redemption to prayer and the smile did not leave his face all day.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:1) equates one who does not fulfill this practice to a loved one who knocks on the door of the king and then departs. When the king answers the door and sees no one there, he also turns away.

He should pray standing, as we have said. - See Chapter 5, Halachah 2.

When he concludes, he should sit, fall on his face and recite the supplication prayer. - See Chapter 5, Halachah 13.

[Afterwards,] he should lift up his head and recite a few [additional] supplications while sitting amid supplication. - In his Order of Prayers for the Entire Year, the Rambam lists these verses beginning with - "And we do not know what to do for our eyes are directed towards You" (II Chronicles 20:12).

In Chapter 4, Halachah 16, and Halachah 18 of this chapter, the Rambam requires one to sit a short while after prayer before taking his leave. Perhaps that is the basis for the suggestion to sit during these supplicatory prayers.

Afterwards, while sitting, he recites Tehillah l'David (Psalms 145), - Berachot 4b states: "Anyone who recites Tehillah l'David three times daily is guaranteed a place in the World to Come." Since this Psalm is not included in the evening service, it is recited twice in the morning service.

adds supplications according to his ability - In Chapter 9:5, the Rambam rules that one should recite the passage, U'va l'Tzion go'el. However, that passage includes the Kedushah and hence, according to the opinion mentioned above, should only be recited in communal prayer. Therefore, an individual recites only the supplications found at the end of that prayer.

In his Order of Prayers, the Rambam also mentions the custom of reciting the "song of the day" and of eyn k'e-loheinu.

and departs to his own affairs. - The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 155:1) quote Berachot 64a which states that after prayer, one should proceed to Torah study. It is unclear why the Rambam does not mention this point.

Commentary Halacha 18

One begins the Minchah service by reciting Tehillah l'David (Psalm 145) - This is the third time this psalm is recited in the daily prayers in keeping with the directive of Berachot 4b mentioned in the previous halachah.

Reciting Tehillah l'David here also fulfills the obligation (Berachot 31a, Chapter 4, Halachah 18) to pray "amid words of Torah." See also Chapter 9, Halachah 8.

while sitting - The siddur of Rav Sa'adia Gaon states that תהילה לדוד should be recited sitting until one is calm and properly prepared to pray. Only then should one stand and recite Shemoneh Esreh. See Chapter 4, Halachah 16.

Afterwards, one stands and recites the Minchah prayer. - See Chapter 5, Halachah 2.

When he finishes, he falls on his face and recites the supplication prayer, - See Chapter 5, Halachah 13.

raises his head and utters [more] supplication according to his ability and departs to his own matters. - as explained in the previous halachah.

In the evening service, he recites the Shema together with the blessings before and after it, - See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:5-6.

connects [the blessing of] redemption to prayer - See the previous halachah. Note also the concluding statement of this halachah.

and prays standing. - See Chapter 5, Halachah 2.

When he finishes, he sits a short while - See Chapter 4, Halachah 16.

and departs. - Here, the Rambam does not add "to his own matters" as in regard to the morning and afternoon service. Before the evening service, a person should have concluded his work and business affairs.

One who offers prayers of supplication after the evening service is praiseworthy. - In Chapter 5, Halachah 15, the Rambam writes that the common custom is not to fall on one's face and recite supplications in the evening service. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 131) explains that both falling on one's face and night are associated with God's attribute of judgement and it would be inappropriate to combine the two.

It is unclear whether the Rambam is here referring to the practice of falling on one's face (nefilat apayim) or merely the recitation of supplicatory prayers (tachanun). Rav Amram Gaon records that in Babylonia, it was the custom to recite such prayers every night except Friday.

Even though one recites the blessing hashkiveinu - the second blessing recited after the Shema at night

after ga'al Yisrael, it is not considered as an interruption between [the blessing of] redemption and prayer, for - Berachot 4b relates: Since the Sages established the blessing hashkiveinu...

they are both considered as one long blessing. - Hashkiveinu is considered as a continuation of the theme of redemption (Tosafot, Berachot 4b) because it contains the request for God to save us from many different types of difficulties just as He redeemed us from Egypt (Maharit Algazi). The connection is further emphasized by the fact that in the exodus from Egypt, God protected the Jews on a night where permission was granted for the forces of destruction to act. Similarly, in hashkiveinu, we ask Him to protect us from "all evil matters and fears of night" (Birkai Yosef).

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