Birkot hashachar

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Birkhot hashachar or Birkhot haShachar (Hebrew: ברכות השחר‎) ("morning blessings' or "blessings [of] the dawn") are a series of blessings that are recited at the beginning of Jewish morning services. The blessings represent thanks to God for a renewal of the day.

The order of the blessings is not defined by halakha and may vary in each siddur, but is generally based on the order of activities customary upon arising.[1]

The blessings[edit]

Al netilat yadayim[edit]

This blessing represents the cleanliness of one's hands following ritual defilement.[2]

Asher yatzar[edit]

Main article: Asher Yatzar

This is a blessing regarding the works of one's body. It is also recited each time following one's urination or defecation.

Elohai neshama[edit]

This paragraph represents thanks to God for the return of one's soul. When one sleeps, the soul departs the body. This state is referred to as a "semi-death." Upon awakening, the body is reunited with the soul.[3]

Blessings of Torah study[edit]

The Birkkot hashachar includes some blessings pertaining to Torah study. It is forbidden for one to study any Torah prior to reciting these blessings. One of the blessings is identical to the one that is recited by a person called for an aliyah.

Since one is required to fulfill a mitzvah immediately after reciting a blessing on that mitzvah without interruption, some verses from the oral and written Torah are recited immediately following this blessing. These include Numbers 6:24-26 (known as the Priestly Blessing), the Mishnah Peah 1:1, and Talmud Shabbat 127a.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ An encyclopedia of American synagogue ritual By Kerry M. Olitzky, Marc Lee Raphael, page 18
  2. ^ An encyclopedia of American synagogue ritual By Kerry M. Olitzky, Marc Lee Raphael, page 19
  3. ^ An encyclopedia of American synagogue ritual By Kerry M. Olitzky, Marc Lee Raphael, page 19
  4. ^ An encyclopedia of American synagogue ritual By Kerry M. Olitzky, Marc Lee Raphael, page 20