Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar| 5770
Ask the Rabbi: Morning Berachot After Staying Up All Night (i.e. Shavuot)
Question: After staying up all night on Shavout, we have someone who slept say the morning berachot on everyone’s behalf. Why is this necessary? What happens if we cannot find anyone?
Answer: We must address different categories of berachot, with different reasons and details.
Netilat yadayim and Asher Yatzar – There are three possible reasons (see Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 4) for washing our hands with a beracha upon waking in the morning, before davening: 1. Our hands probably got dirty as we slept (Rosh, Berachot 9:23); 2. Because in the morning we are like a new being, we set out on a process of purification and blessing HaShem (Shut HaRashba I, 191; see Mishna Berura 4:1); 3. We are affected by a ru’ach ra’ah (evil spirit), which is remedied by netilat yadayim.
Reason 1 does not apply if one did not sleep and kept his hands clean. It is not fully clear whether reasons 2 and 3 apply if one did not sleep. The Rama (Orach Chayim 4:13; see different opinions in Mishna Berura 4:30) says that although one should wash his hands as usual in this case, he should not make the beracha, out of doubt. When one who slept recites the beracha on behalf of those who did not, they gain the beracha. One who did not sleep but “went to the bathroom” and in so doing touched covered parts of the body also makes a beracha (Mishna Berura ibid.). Reason 1 certainly applies to such a person and the others are likely to apply, as the night has passed by the time of alot hashachar (Break of dawn, 72 minutes before sunrise) (see Artzot HaChayim (Malbim) ad loc.).
Asher Yatzar is said whenever one has recently gone to the bathroom, and there is no need to do a public one (often it simpler to recite the berachot one after the other from the siddur, and this does not raise a problem.)
Birkot hashachar –Most of the series of berachot thanking HaShem for different elements of our lives were originally described as being done as one received the benefit (e.g., putting on shoes, clothes, straightening the body) (Berachot 60b). Nevertheless, our practice is to make the berachot at one time and whether or not we recently received the benefit (Rama 46:8; see Yalkut Yosef regarding Sephardic practice). Therefore, even one who did not sleep and did not renew these benefits can recite the berachot because the praise of HaShem is true in regard to other people. The main issue is with the berachot of HaMa’avir Sheina and Elokai Neshama, which both focus specifically on awaking from sleep and are recited, at least partially, in the first person. The Mishna Berura (46:24) rules that one should hear these berachot from one who slept. On the other hand, one who makes these berachotdespite not sleeping has whom to rely upon (see Ishei Yisrael 5:(40) & Piskei Teshuvot 494:7), especially if no one who slept is available.
Birkot haTorah (before the study of Torah)- It is unclear whether the reason one is obligated to make birkot haTorah every morning is the fact that it is a new day or that his sleep ended the efficacy of the old beracha. Due to this doubt, the Mishna Berura (47:28) rules that one who was up all night does not make birkot haTorah at daybreak but hears themfrom someone who slept (Rav Ovadya Yosef in Yechaveh Da’at III, 33 argues.) However, he accepts the following idea of Rav Akiva Eiger. If one took a reasonably long nap during the previous day, he makes berachot the next morning despite staying up in the night, assuming he did not make the birkot haTorah sincehe got up. This is because he is obligated according to both approaches, as he has slept and a day has passed since his last birkot haTorah. It is better to use such a person (who are common on Shavuot) than one who put his head down for a few minutes at night. Note that one who sleeps at night makes birkot haTorah before resuming learning. Thus, he is available to recite them on others’ behalf only if he came to shul when they are ready for the birkot haTorah or if he did not recite them when he arose. (Note – everyone recites the Torah texts, starting with “Yevarecheca” and ending with “k’neged kulam,”after the birkot haTorah).
Tzitzit – It is unclear if we are obligated in tzitzit at night and thus whether we need a beracha in the morning. One should hear someone else’s beracha or be yotzei with the beracha on his or another’s tallit (Mishna Berura 8:42).
In general, what is considered significant sleep may depend on where (bed or chair) and/or how long (opinions range from a minute to a half hour and beyond) he sleeps. The halachamay change from one of the above topics to another (see Ishei Yisrael 6:(64)).
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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben