1

All blessings begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]," with the exception of the blessing after the recitation of the Shema, blessings that come in succession to each other, the blessings over fruit and the like, the blessings over the fulfillment of the mitzvot, and the blessings that we have mentioned which are expressions of praise and thanks. The [latter blessings] include some that begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and others that conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" but do not begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]."

[There are certain exceptions to these rules,] for example, a small number of blessings over the mitzvot, such as the blessing recited [when reading from] a Torah scroll and [some of the blessings recited as an expression of praise and thanks;] for example, the blessing recited when one sees Jewish graves. The rest of the blessings over mitzvot begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude [with "Blessed are You, God...].

א

כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת כֻּלָּן פּוֹתֵחַ בָּהֶם בְּבָרוּךְ וְחוֹתֵם בָּהֶם בְּבָרוּךְ חוּץ מִבְּרָכָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּבְרָכָה הַסְּמוּכָה לַחֲבֵרְתָהּ וּבִרְכַּת הַפֵּרוֹת וְהַדּוֹמֶה לָהּ וּבִרְכַּת עֲשִׂיַּת הַמִּצְוֹת. וּמֵאֵלּוּ הַבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ שֶׁהֵן דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁבַח וְהוֹדָיָה יֵשׁ מֵהֶן פּוֹתֵחַ בְּבָרוּךְ וְאֵינוֹ חוֹתֵם בְּבָרוּךְ. וְיֵשׁ מֵהֶן שֶׁהוּא חוֹתֵם בְּבָרוּךְ וְאֵינוֹ פּוֹתֵחַ בְּבָרוּךְ, אֶלָּא מְעַט מִבִּרְכַּת הַמִּצְוֹת כְּגוֹן בִּרְכַּת סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְרוֹאֶה קִבְרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵלּוּ שֶׁהֵן דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁבַח וְהוֹדָיָה. אֲבָל שְׁאָר בִּרְכוֹת הַמִּצְוֹת כֻּלָּן פּוֹתֵחַ בָּהֶן בְּבָרוּךְ וְאֵינוֹ חוֹתֵם:

All blessings begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" - "our Lord and King of the universe..."

and conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" with the exception of the blessing after the recitation of the Shema - Although the Shema interposes between this blessing and the blessings that precede it, they are still considered as blessings that come in succession to each other. This same rule applies to other blessings, e.g., the blessings Yishtabach and Baruch she'amar and the blessings before and after Hallel.

blessings that come in succession to each other - In this instance, the phrase "Blessed..." which begins the first blessing in the succession, applies to the blessings that follow as well.

the blessings over fruit - See Chapters 8 and 9.

and the like - See Hilchot Tefilah, Chapter 7. The blessings mentioned there are equivalent to the blessings recited over fruit.

the blessings over the fulfillment of the mitzvot - These blessings are discussed in this chapter.

and the blessings that we have mentioned which are expressions of praise and thanks. - The blessings mentioned in the previous chapter.

The [latter blessings] include some that begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]" and do not conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" - Indeed, most of the blessings mentioned in the previous chapter are structured in this manner.

and others that conclude with "Blessed [are You, God...]" but do not begin with "Blessed [are You, God...]." - e.g., the blessing on rain mentioned in Halachah 5.

[There are certain exceptions - The bracketed additions are based on the commentary of the Kessef Mishneh.

to these rules,] - i.e., blessings from these categories that both begin and concluded with "Blessed are You...."

for example, a small number of blessings over the mitzvot, such as the blessing recited [when reading from] a Torah scroll - See Hilchot Tefillah 12:5. Other examples are the blessings over the haftarah and the blessing over consecrating a wife.

and [some of the blessings recited as an expression of praise and thanks;] for example, the blessing recited when one sees Jewish graves. - See Chapter 10, Halachah 10. Other examples are Kiddush, Havdalah, and the blessing sanctifying the new moon.

2

There are positive commandments that a person is obligated to make an effort to pursue [their fulfillment] until he performs them - for example, tefillin, sukkah, lulav, and shofar.1 These are referred to as obligations, since a person is obligated to fulfill them.

There are other mitzvot that are not obligations, but resemble voluntary activities - for example, [the mitzvot of] mezuzah and constructing a guardrail. A person is not obligated to dwell in a house that requires a mezuzah2 [just in order] to fulfill this mitzvah. Instead, if he desires, he can dwell in a tent or a ship for his entire life. Similarly, he does not have to build a house [just] in order to build a guardrail.

A blessing should be recited3 before4 fulfilling all positive commandments that are between man and God,5 whether they are mitzvot that are obligatory or are not obligatory.

ב

יֵשׁ מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁאָדָם חַיָּב לְהִשְׁתַּדֵּל וְלִרְדֹּף עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ כְּגוֹן תְּפִלִּין וְסֻכָּה וְלוּלָב וְשׁוֹפָר וְאֵלּוּ הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִין חוֹבָה. לְפִי שֶׁאָדָם חַיָּב עַל כָּל פָּנִים לַעֲשׂוֹת. וְיֵשׁ מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ חוֹבָה אֶלָּא דּוֹמִין לִרְשׁוּת כְּגוֹן מְזוּזָה וּמַעֲקֶה שֶׁאֵין אָדָם חַיָּב לִשְׁכֹּן בְּבַיִת הַחַיָּב מְזוּזָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה מְזוּזָה אֶלָּא אִם רָצָה לִשְׁכֹּן כָּל יָמָיו בְּאֹהֶל אוֹ בִּסְפִינָה יֵשֵׁב. וְכֵן אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לִבְנוֹת בַּיִת כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲקֶה. וְכָל מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם בֵּין מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ חוֹבָה בֵּין מִצְוָה שֶׁהִיא חוֹבָה מְבָרֵךְ עָלֶיהָ קֹדֶם לַעֲשִׂיָּתָהּ:

3

Similarly, with regard to all the Rabbinic mitzvot - both the mitzvot that the Rabbis established as obligations6 - e.g., regarding the megillah, lighting Shabbat candles, and lighting Chanukah candles - and the mitzvot that are not obligations7 - e.g., an eruv8 or washing hands9 - one should recite a blessing before performing them, [praising God] "who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us….”

Where has He commanded us [to fulfill these commandments]?10 In the Torah, which states [Deuteronomy 17:11]: "Act [according to the judgment] they relate to you."11 [Based on this Biblical verse, the blessing recited before fulfilling a Rabbinical commandment] can be interpreted as follows: Who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to listen to these [sages] who have commanded us to light Chanukah candles or read the megillah. The same applies regarding all Rabbinic commandments.

ג

וְכֵן כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁהֵן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים בֵּין מִצְוָה שֶׁהִיא חוֹבָה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּגוֹן מִקְרָא מְגִלָּה וְהַדְלָקַת נֵר בְּשַׁבָּת וְהַדְלָקַת נֵר חֲנֻכָּה. בֵּין מִצְוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן חוֹבָה כְּגוֹן עֵרוּב וּנְטִילַת יָדַיִם. מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַכּל קדֶם לַעֲשִׂיָּתָן אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת. וְהֵיכָן צִוָּנוּ בַּתּוֹרָה. שֶׁכָּתוּב בָּהּ (דברים יז יא) ״אֲשֶׁר יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ תַּעֲשֶׂה״. נִמְצָא עִנְיַן הַדְּבָרִים וְהֶצֵּעָן כָּךְ הוּא. אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו שֶׁצִּוָּה בָּהֶן לִשְׁמֹעַ מֵאֵלּוּ שֶׁצִּוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חֲנֻכָּה אוֹ לִקְרוֹת אֶת הַמְּגִלָּה. וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁמִּדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

4

Why do we not recite a blessing before washing our hands after [eating]? Because the Sages obligated us [to do] this only because of danger.12 Blessings are not recited over an [obligation that was instituted] because of danger.13

To what can this be compared? To someone who strains drinking water at night because of the danger of leeches. [Surely,] he does not recite a blessing, [praising God,] "who commanded us to strain water." The same applies in all similar situations.

ד

וְלָמָּה אֵין מְבָרְכִין עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא חִיְּבוּ בְּדָבָר זֶה אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי הַסַּכָּנָה וּדְבָרִים שֶׁהֵם מִשּׁוּם סַכָּנָה אֵין מְבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶם. הָא לְמָה זֶה דּוֹמֶה לְמִי שֶׁסִּנֵּן אֶת הַמַּיִם וְאַחַר כָּךְ שָׁתָה בַּלַּיְלָה מִפְּנֵי סַכָּנַת עֲלוּקָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ וְצִוָּנוּ לְסַנֵּן אֶת הַמַּיִם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

5

[The following rules apply when] a person performs a mitzvah, but does not recite a blessing: If the fulfillment of the mitzvah still continues, he may recite the blessing even though he already performed it.14 If the mitzvah is a deed that is completed, he should not recite a blessing.15

What is implied? When a person wrapped himself in tzitzit, donned tefillin, or sat in a sukkah without reciting a blessing at the outset, after wrapping himself [in tzitzit] he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit"; after donning [tefillin], he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to put on tefillin"; after sitting [in the sukkah], he should recite the blessing "... who commanded us to sit in the sukkah." The same applies in all similar situations.

ה

העוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָה וְלֹא בֵּרֵךְ. אִם מִצְוָה שֶׁעֲדַיִן עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ קַיֶּמֶת מְבָרֵךְ אַחַר עֲשִׂיָּה וְאִם דָּבָר שֶׁעָבַר הוּא אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁנִּתְעַטֵּף בְּצִיצִית אוֹ שֶׁלָּבַשׁ תְּפִלִּין אוֹ שֶׁיָּשַׁב בְּסֻכָּה וְלֹא בֵּרֵךְ תְּחִלָּה חוֹזֵר וּמְבָרֵךְ אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְעַטֵּף אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהִתְעַטֵּף בְּצִיצִית. וְכֵן מְבָרֵךְ אַחַר שֶׁלָּבַשׁ לְהָנִיחַ תְּפִלִּין. וְאַחַר שֶׁיָּשַׁב לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּאֵלּוּ:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

6

In contrast, if a person slaughtered [an animal] without reciting a blessing,16 he should not recite the blessing "... who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us concerning slaughter," after the slaughter [is completed]. Similarly, if he covered [a fowl's] blood, separated terumah or the tithes, or immersed himself without reciting a blessing beforehand,17 he should not recite a blessing afterwards. The same applies in all similar situations.

ו

אֲבָל אִם שָׁחַט בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר אַחַר שְׁחִיטָה וּמְבָרֵךְ אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל הַשְּׁחִיטָה. וְכֵן אִם כִּסָּה הַדָּם בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה אוֹ הִפְרִישׁ תְּרוּמָה וּמַעַשְׂרוֹת אוֹ שֶׁטָּבַל וְלֹא בֵּרֵךְ אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר וּמְבָרֵךְ אַחַר עֲשִׂיָּה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

7

There is no mitzvah for which the blessing should be recited after its fulfillment, with the exception of the immersion of a convert.18 [In this instance, the exception was made] because he could not say, "who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us." Until [the convert] immersed himself, he was neither sanctified nor commanded. Therefore, he recites the blessing over the immersion [only] after immersing himself. [This is allowed] since at the outset, he was unfit and unable to recite the blessing.19

ז

אֵין לְךָ מִצְוָה שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין אַחַר עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ אֶלָּא טְבִילַת הַגֵּר בִּלְבַד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לוֹמַר אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא נִתְקַדֵּשׁ וְלֹא נִצְטַוָּה עַד שֶׁיִּטְבּל. לְפִיכָךְ אַחַר שֶׁיִּטְבּל מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַטְּבִילָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה דָּחוּי מֵעִקָּרוֹ וְלֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְבָרֵךְ:

8

Whenever the performance of a mitzvah constitutes the completion of one's obligation, he should recite the blessing before performing it. When, however, there is another commandment that follows the performance of a particular mitzvah,20 the blessing should not be recited until the other mitzvah is performed.

What is implied? When a person makes a sukkah, a lulav,21 a shofar, tzitzit, tefillin, or a mezuzah, he should not recite a blessing at the time he made [them]: [praising God for] "sanctifying us with Your commandments and commanding us to make a sukkah" or "a lulav," or "to write tefillin," because there is another commandment that follows this action.

When is the blessing recited? When one sits in the sukkah, shakes the lulav, hears the sounding of the shofar, wraps oneself in tzitzit, dons tefillin, or affixes the mezuzah. In contrast, when one constructs a guardrail,22 before constructing it one should recite the blessing "...who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to construct a guardrail." The same applies in all similar situations.

ח

כָּל מִצְוָה שֶׁעֲשִׂיָּתָהּ הִיא גְּמַר חִיּוּבָהּ מְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּה. וְכָל מִצְוָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ אַחַר עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ צִוּוּי אַחֵר אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה הַצִּוּוּי הָאַחֲרוֹן. כֵּיצַד. הָעוֹשֶׂה סֻכָּה אוֹ לוּלָב אוֹ שׁוֹפָר אוֹ צִיצִית אוֹ תְּפִלִּין אוֹ מְזוּזָה אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּה אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת סֻכָּה אוֹ לוּלָב אוֹ לִכְתֹּב תְּפִלִּין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ אַחַר עֲשִׂיָּתוֹ צִוּוּי אַחֵר. וְאֵימָתַי מְבָרֵךְ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיֵּשֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה אוֹ כְּשֶׁיְּנַעֲנֵעַ הַלּוּלָב אוֹ כְּשֶׁיִּשְׁמַע קוֹל הַשּׁוֹפָר אוֹ כְּשֶׁיִּתְעַטֵּף בַּצִּיצִית וּבִשְׁעַת לְבִישַׁת תְּפִלִּין וּבִשְׁעַת קְבִיעַת מְזוּזָה. אֲבָל אִם עָשָׂה מַעֲקֶה מְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּה אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲקֶה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

9

The blessing shehecheyanu is recited:
[before] fulfilling every mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill only at a specific time - e.g., shofar, sukkah, lulav, reading the Megillah, and [lighting] Chanukah candles,
[before fulfilling] every mitzvah that involves the acquisition of property23 - e.g., tzitzit, tefillin, and a guardrail - and
[before fulfilling] every mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill infrequently - for this resembles a mitzvah we are obligated to fulfill only at a specific time - e.g., circumcising one's son24 and redeeming him.

If one did not recite the blessing shehecheyanu when making a sukkah or a lulav, one should recite this blessing when fulfilling the mitzvah.25 The same applies in other similar situations.

ט

כָּל מִצְוָה שֶׁהִיא מִזְּמַן לִזְמַן כְּגוֹן שׁוֹפָר וְסֻכָּה וְלוּלָב וּמִקְרָא מְגִלָּה וְנֵר חֲנֻכָּה. וְכֵן כָּל מִצְוָה וּמִצְוָה שֶׁהִיא קִנְיָן לוֹ כְּגוֹן צִיצִית וּתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזָה וּמַעֲקֶה. וְכֵן מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ תְּדִירָה וְאֵינָהּ מְצוּיָה בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁהֲרֵי הִיא דּוֹמָה לְמִצְוָה שֶׁהִיא מִזְּמַן לִזְמַן כְּגוֹן מִילַת בְּנוֹ וּפִדְיוֹן הַבֵּן, מְבָרֵךְ עָלֶיהָ בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ. וְאִם לֹא בֵּרֵךְ עַל סֻכָּה וְלוּלָב וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּה מְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיֵּצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בָּהֶן. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן:

10

Whether a person performs a mitzvah for himself or for a colleague,26 before performing the mitzvah, he should recite the blessing "... who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us...." He should, however, recite the blessing shehecheyanu only on mitzvot that he is performing for himself.27

If a person is [intending to] fulfill several mitzvot, he should not recite the blessing "... who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to fulfill the mitzvot ---." Instead, he should recite a blessing over each mitzvah individually.28

י

אֶחָד הָעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָה לְעַצְמוֹ וְאֶחָד הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ לַאֲחֵרִים מְבָרֵךְ קֹדֶם עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ אֶלָּא עַל מִצְוָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ לְעַצְמוֹ. הָיוּ לְפָנָיו מִצְוֹת הַרְבֵּה אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל הַמִּצְוֹת אֶלָּא מְבָרֵךְ עַל כָּל אַחַת וְאַחַת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ:

11

Whoever performs a mitzvah for his own sake, whether it is an obligation incumbent upon him29 or not,30 should recite a blessing, [praising God "who sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us] to perform ----." In contrast, if he performs a mitzvah on behalf of another person, the form of the blessing is ["who sanctified us... and commanded us] concerning the performance of ----."31

יא

כָּל הָעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוָה בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה חוֹבָה עָלָיו בֵּין שֶׁאֵינָהּ חוֹבָה עָלָיו אִם עָשָׂה אוֹתָהּ לְעַצְמוֹ מְבָרֵךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת. עָשָׂה אוֹתָהּ לַאֲחֵרִים מְבָרֵךְ עַל הָעֲשִׂיָּה:

12

What is implied? Before donning tefillin, one recites the blessing "... to put on tefillin"; before wrapping oneself in tzitzit, one recites the blessing "... to wrap..."; before sitting in the sukkah, one recites the blessing "...to sit in the sukkah." Similarly, one recites the blessings "... to kindle the Sabbath light," and "... to complete the Hallel."

Similarly, if one affixes a mezuzah on one's own house, one should recite the blessing "... to affix a mezuzah"; if one erects a guardrail on one's roof, one should recite the blessing "... to erect a guardrail." Should one separate terumah for oneself, one should recite the blessing "... to separate [terumah]." Should one circumcise one's own son, one should recite the blessing "... to circumcise [one's] son." Should one slaughter one's Paschal sacrifice or festive sacrifice, one recites the blessing "... to slaughter...."

יב

כֵּיצַד. לָבַשׁ תְּפִלִּין מְבָרֵךְ לְהָנִיחַ תְּפִלִּין. נִתְעַטֵּף בְּצִיצִית מְבָרֵךְ לְהִתְעַטֵּף. יָשַׁב בְּסֻכָּה מְבָרֵךְ לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה. וְכֵן הוּא מְבָרֵךְ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת וְלִגְמֹר אֶת הַהַלֵּל. וְכֵן אִם קָבַע מְזוּזָה לְבֵיתוֹ מְבָרֵךְ לִקְבֹּעַ מְזוּזָה. עָשָׂה מַעֲקֶה לְגַגּוֹ מְבָרֵךְ אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲקֶה. הִפְרִישׁ תְּרוּמָה לְעַצְמוֹ מְבָרֵךְ לְהַפְרִישׁ. מָל אֶת בְּנוֹ מְבָרֵךְ לָמוּל אֶת הַבֵּן. שָׁחַט פִּסְחוֹ וַחֲגִיגָתוֹ מְבָרֵךְ לִשְׁחֹט:



What is implied? Before donning tefillin - a mitzvah that we are obligated to fulfill each day

one recites the blessing "... to put on tefillin" - This is the blessing recited over the arm tefillin, and over both the arm and head tefillin when one does not speak between putting them on. Should one speak, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of tefillin" before putting the head tefillin on (Hilchot Tefillin 4:6).

The latter statement is problematic for the Rambam: Since the blessing is recited before putting on the head tefillin, it should use the form "... and commanded us to..." rather than "... and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of...."

before wrapping oneself in tzitzit - A mitzvah that, as mentioned in the previous halachah, has a non-obligatory nature. The Torah does not obligate us to wear tzitzit each day. (See Hilchot Tzitzit 3:11.) Nevertheless, a person who wears a garment requiring tzitzit is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah each day.

one recites the blessing "... to wrap..." - This blessing is recited before putting on the tallit gadol. As mentioned in the commentary on Hilchot Tzitzit, the Rambam does not mention the custom of wearing a tallit katan at all. It is our custom to recite the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of tzitzit" for such a garment. It is possible to explain that the form "... concerning..." is used because, generally, we have touched unclean portions of our body before putting on the tallit katan. Hence, the blessing cannot be recited before donning the garment. Accordingly, the form "...concerning the mitzvah..." is more appropriate, as stated in Halachah 15.

before sitting in the sukkah - a mitzvah that is obligatory in nature, but which can be performed only during a certain time of the year.

one recites the blessing "...to sit in the sukkah." - It is our custom to recite this blessing even if one began sitting in the sukkah without reciting the blessing, and recited the blessing afterwards. From Halachah 15, however, it does not appear that the Rambam would accept this practice.

Similarly, one recites the blessings - The Rambam mentions Shabbat candles and Hallel specifically because these are Rabbinic mitzvot.

"... to kindle the Sabbath light," and "... to complete the Hallel." - This is the Sephardic custom. Today, in Ashkenazic communities, the text of the blessing is "... to read the Hallel."

Similarly, if one affixes a mezuzah on one's own house - The Rambam mentions the mitzvot of mezuzah and a guardrail for two reasons: First, as explained in the commentary on the previous halachah, there is a non-obligatory aspect to these mitzvot. Second, as explained in the following halachah, there is a difference whether one performs these mitzvot by oneself or whether one performs them on behalf of another person.

one should recite the blessing "... to affix a mezuzah"; if one erects a guardrail on one's roof, one should recite the blessing "...to erect a guardrail." - See Halachah 4, Note 13.

Should one separate terumah for oneself, one should recite the blessing "... to separate [terumah]." - The Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah also mention the separation of tithes in this context.

Should one circumcise one's own son, one should recite the blessing "... to circumcise [one's] son." - Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 265:2) mentions the Rambam's opinion, the Ramah states that it is customary to recite the blessing "... concerning the circumcision," at all times.

Should one slaughter one's Paschal sacrifice or festive sacrifice, one recites the blessing "... to slaughter...." - The Rambam mentions these mitzvot to contrast them with the following halachah, which describes their performance on behalf of another person. It would appear that the Rambam is making the point that one should use the form "... to..." when performing the mitzvah oneself even when, in general, it is more likely that the mitzvah be performed by an agent (Kin’at Eliyahu).

13

If, however, one affixes a mezuzah for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the affixing of a mezuzah."32 Should one construct a guardrail for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the building of a guardrail." Should one separate terumah for others, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the separation of terumah. Should one circumcise a colleague's son, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the circumcision." The same applies in all similar situations.

יג

אֲבָל אִם קָבַע מְזוּזָה לַאֲחֵרִים מְבָרֵךְ עַל קְבִיעַת מְזוּזָה. עָשָׂה לָהֶם מַעֲקֶה מְבָרֵךְ עַל עֲשִׂיַּת מַעֲקֶה. הִפְרִישׁ לָהֶם תְּרוּמָה מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַפְרָשַׁת תְּרוּמָה. מָל אֶת בֶּן חֲבֵרוֹ מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַמִּילָה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ:

14

[The following rules apply] when a person performs a mitzvah on his own behalf and on behalf of others simultaneously. If the mitzvah is not obligatory in nature, he should use the form "... concerning..." for the blessing.33 Therefore, one recites the blessing "... concerning the mitzvah of eruv."34

If the mitzvah is obligatory and he had the intent of fulfilling his own obligation and that of the others, he should use the form "... to..." for the blessing.35 Therefore, one recites the blessing "... to hear the sound of the shofar."

יד

עָשָׂה הַמִּצְוָה לוֹ וְלַאֲחֵרִים כְּאֶחָד אִם הָיְתָה מִצְוָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ חוֹבָה מְבָרֵךְ עַל הָעֲשִׂיָּה. לְפִיכָךְ הוּא מְבָרֵךְ עַל מִצְוַת עֵרוּב. הָיְתָה חוֹבָה וְנִתְכַּוֵּן לְהוֹצִיא עַצְמוֹ מִידֵי חוֹבָה וּלְהוֹצִיא אֲחֵרִים מְבָרֵךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ הוּא מְבָרֵךְ לִשְׁמֹעַ קוֹל שׁוֹפָר:

15

When one takes the lulav, one should recite the blessing "... concerning the taking of the lulav." [This form is used] because a person fulfills his obligation36 when he picks [the lulav] up. If one recites the blessing before taking the lulav, one should recite the blessing "... to take the lulav,"37 as one recites the blessing "... to sit in the sukkah." From this, one derives the principle that a person who recites a blessing after performing [a mitzvah] blesses "... concerning..." [the mitzvah's] performance.38

With regard to the washing of hands and ritual slaughter, since they are of a voluntary nature,39 even if a person slaughters on his own behalf, he should recite the blessings "... concerning slaughter," "... concerning the covering of the blood," and "... concerning the washing of hands."40

Similarly, one recites the blessing "... concerning the destruction of chametz," whether one searches for leaven on one's own behalf or on behalf of others. [This form is used] because once a person resolves in his heart to nullify his ownership [over chametz], the mitzvah of destroying it is fulfilled41 even before one searches,42 as will be explained in its place.

טו

נָטַל אֶת הַלּוּלָב מְבָרֵךְ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגְבִּיהוֹ יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ. אֲבָל אִם בֵּרֵךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּטּל מְבָרֵךְ לִטּל לוּלָב כְּמוֹ לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה. מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁהַמְבָרֵךְ אַחַר שֶׁעָשָׂה מְבָרֵךְ עַל הָעֲשִׂיָּה. אֲבָל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם וּשְׁחִיטָה הוֹאִיל וּבְדִבְרֵי הָרְשׁוּת הֵן אֲפִלּוּ שָׁחַט לְעַצְמוֹ מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַשְּׁחִיטָה וְעַל כִּסּוּי הַדָּם וְעַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם. וְכָךְ הוּא מְבָרֵךְ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ בֵּין שֶׁבָּדַק לְעַצְמוֹ בֵּין שֶׁבָּדַק לַאֲחֵרִים שֶׁמִּשָּׁעָה שֶׁגָּמַר בְּלִבּוֹ לְבַטֵּל נַעֲשֵׂית מִצְוַת הַבִּעוּר קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּבְדֹּק כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ:

16

[A blessing is not recited over] all practices that are customs. [This applies] even to a custom established by the prophets - for example, taking the willow branches on the seventh day of Sukkot.43 Needless to say, a blessing is not recited over customs established by the Sages - e.g., reading Hallel on Rosh Chodesh44 and on the intermediate days of Pesach.45

Similarly whenever there is a question whether a practice requires a blessing or not,46 it should be performed without reciting a blessing.47

A person should always take care not to recite blessings that are not necessary, and should recite many blessings that are required. Thus, David declared [Psalms 145:2]: "I will bless you each day."48

טז

כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא מִנְהָג אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּנְהַג נְבִיאִים הוּא כְּגוֹן נְטִילַת עֲרָבָה בִּשְׁבִיעִי שֶׁל חַג וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר מִנְהַג חֲכָמִים כְּגוֹן קְרִיאַת הַלֵּל בְּרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים וּבְחֻלּוֹ שֶׁל מוֹעֵד שֶׁל פֶּסַח אֵין מְבָרְכִין עָלָיו. וְכֵן כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁיִּסְתַּפֵּק לְךָ אִם טָעוּן בְּרָכָה אִם לָאו עוֹשִׂין אוֹתוֹ בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה. וּלְעוֹלָם יִזָּהֵר אָדָם בִּבְרָכָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה וְיַרְבֶּה בַּבְּרָכוֹת הַצְּרִיכוֹת. וְכֵן דָּוִד אָמַר (תהילים קמה ב) ״בְּכָל יוֹם אֲבָרְכֶךָּ״:

Blessed be God who grants assistance.

בְּרִיךְ רַחֲמָנָא דְּסַיְּעָן