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Shabbat Parashat Naso| 5766

Ask the Rabbi

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); 2) Because in the morning we are like a new being, we set out on a process of purification and blessing Hashem (Rashba; see Mishna Berura 4:1); 3) We are affected by a ruach 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 & 3 apply if one did not sleep. The Rama (4:13) says that although one should wash his hands as usual, he should not make the beracha out of doubt. By listening to the beracha of one who slept on behalf of others, we avoid the doubt. 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 4:30). Reason 1 certainly applies to such a person and the others are likely to apply, as the night passed by the time of alot hashachar (break of dawn, 72 minutes before sunrise).
      “Asher yatzar” can be said by anyone who recently went to the bathroom.
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 berachot despite 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 (=bht- before the study of Torah)- It is unclear whether the reason one is obligated to make bht 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 bht at daybreak, but hears themfrom someone who slept. (Yechave Da’at III, 33 argues.) However, he accepts R. Akiva Eiger’s idea that 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 bht 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 bht. 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 bht 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 bht or if he did not recite them when he arose. (Note- everyone recites the Torah texts after the bht starting with “Yevarecheca”).
Tzitzit- It is unclear if we are obligated in tzitzit at night, and thus whether we need a beracha in the morning. One should be yotze with the beracha on his or another’s talit (Mishna Berura 8:42).
 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 halacha may change from one of the above topics to another (see Ishei Yisrael 6:(64)).
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois
 in loving memory of Max and Mary Sutker and Louis and Lillian Klein,z”l.
May their memory be a blessing!

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