Shabbat Parashat Naso | 5768
Berachot After Staying Up Shavuot Night
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 two 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). There is a further element of removing an evil spirit from one’s hands (see Rama, OC 4:2).
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. Listening to the beracha of one who slept on behalf of others avoids the doubt. One who did not sleep but “went to the bathroom” and thereby 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 elements of our lives were originally recited 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, whether or not we recently received the benefit (Rama 46:8; see Yalkut Yosef for Sephardic practice). Therefore even one who did not sleep and renew these benefits can recite the berachot because the praise of Hashem is true in regard to others. The main issue is with the berachot of “hama’avir sheina” and “elokai neshama,” which focus 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, it is legitimate to make these berachot despite not sleeping (see Ishei Yisrael 5:(40) & Piskei Teshuvot 494:7), especially if no one who slept is available.
Birkot Hatorah (=bht)- 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 doesn’t make bht at daybreak but hears them from one 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 (and did not make the bht since getting up), he makes the berachot the next morning even if he stayed up all night. This is because he is obligated according to both approaches, as he has slept and a day passed since his last bht. Such a person is better suited to be motzi others than one who slumbered for a few minutes at night. One who sleeps at night should make bht before learning, after which he is unavailable to make them for others. (Those who listen should recite the texts after bht- “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 depending on what topic is being discussed (see Ishei Yisrael 6:(64)).
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