What is Birchas Hashachar-Reason and meaning

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What is Birchas Hashachar?[1]

Birchas Hashachar is a list of daily blessings instituted by the Sages to be said as a blessing to G-d in accordance to the typical daily pleasures that people benefit from. The blessings were instituted to be said at the time that one first receives these benefits each day.

The reason for the institution to recite Birchas Hashachar: Every Jew is obligated to recite one hundred blessings each day.[2] The blessings of Birchas Hashachar were thus instituted by the Sages[3] in order to accumulate these 100 daily blessings. The purpose of the blessings is to remind oneself of Hashem, and ones love and fear of Him.[4]

 

List of the blessings included in Birchas Hashachar:

  1. Al Netilas Yadayim
  2. Asher Yatzar
  3. Elokaiy Neshama
  4. Hanosen Lasechvi Binah
  5. Pokeiach Ivrim
  6. Matir Assurim
  7. Zokef Kefufim
  8. Malbish Arumim
  9. Hanosane Layaef Koach
  10. Roka Haaretz Al Hamayim
  11. Hamachin Mitzadeiy Gaver
  12. Sheasa Li kol Tzarchi
  13. Ozer Yisrael Bigevurah
  14. Oter Yisrael Bisifara
  15. Shelo Asani Goy
  16. Shelo Asani Aved
  17. Shelo Asani Isha
  18. Hamavir Sheiyna until Hagomel Chasadim Tovim

  

 

Sparks of Chassidus

Refines soul for day’s service:[5]

The blessings of Birchas Hashachar draw down an essential revelation from the name Havaya and are the source of all one’s ability to serve Hashem throughout the day with a subjugation of the body. When a person first awakens his heart and soul are coarse and insensitive. The morning blessings draw nullification and spiritual refinement to the mind and soul and are the source of one’s spiritual accomplishments during prayer.

 

The number of blessings included in Birchas Hashachar:

The grouping referred to as Birchas Hashachar consists of eighteen blessings.[6] These eighteen blessings correspond to the eighteen blessings of Shemoneh Esrei, as the Sages instituted Birchas Hashachar in correspondence to Shemoneh Esrei.[7] The blessing of Hanosein Layaeif Koach is the 19th blessing that was added corresponding to the blessing of “Lamalshinim” which is also the 19th blessings that was added to Shemoneh Esrei. Both the blessing of Birchas Hashachar and Shemoneh Esrei were instituted to strengthen the faith of the Jewish people against the heretics.[8] In Kabala[9] it is explained that the eighteen blessings of Birchas Hashachar represent the elevation of Elokus in the world of Yetzira while the eighteen blessings of Shemoneh Esrei represent the elevation of Elokus in the eighteen thousand worlds which are in Atzilus.

 

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[1] 46/1

[2] Dovid Hamelech instituted that one must say 100 blessings every day as a result of the sudden death of 100 Jews each day during his reign. At first Dovid did not know the reason for the sudden deaths until he saw with Ruach Hakodesh and instituted the one hundred blessings. This institution of reciting 100 blessings daily has Biblical support from the verse “What does Hashem ask of you but to fear Him“. The term “what” in Hebrew is “Mah” which can also be read as “Maeh” which means 100. Thus the verse is saying “100 [blessings] G-d is asking from you”. [ibid]

Kabalistic reason: The Ben Ish Chaiy [Balak] explains how the 100 blessings nullified the 400 evil Kelipos which caused the people to die. The Rokeiach explains that the 100 blessings recited nullify the 100 curses mentioned in Deuteronomy. [Kesher Gudal in name of Rokeaich brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 5 footnote 1]

Reason of Chassidus: The commands draw G-d’s radiance below in a concealed manner, in a way that it is not felt by the person. In order to internalize the radiance one is required to say a blessing prior to the command. It is for this reason that 100 blessings are required. As the number 100 in Kabala represents a level of G-dliness which is completely above the worlds, and it is this level which we want to reveal in our soul and thus unite with him. [Based on Sefer Hamamarim 5672 “Ayin Beis” volume 1 page 93]

Definition of day: The day in this regard starts from one night until the next night. [Admur ibid]

[3] The Shivleiy Haleket writes that the original one hundred blessings that King David instituted  to be said were forgotten, until the times of the Talmud in which the sages came and established [new] blessings, in place of the blessings that were forgotten. [Shaar Hakolel 1/6; This answers an apparent contradiction in Admur if it was David that instituted the blessings or if it was the sages.]

[4] Thus through reciting the 100 blessings one comes to fulfill the simple meaning of the verse, which is to fear G-d.

[5] Sefer Hamamarim 5672 Vol. 2 P. 737

[6] Rambam Tefilah 7; Torah Oar p. 146; Shaar Hakolel 1/6; Sefer Hamamarim 5672 p. 737

Background:

The Rambam ibid writes that “the above 18 blessings which the sages instituted (Birchas Hashachar)……” In the Shaar Hakolel 1/6 he constantly mentions that Birchas Hashachar includes 18 blessings. This number of 18 is not mentioned in Admur.

Which blessings are included within the eighteen blessings? There are different listings of the eighteen blessings found in Sefarim. The Shaar Hakolel 1/12 writes that the Peri Eitz Chaim includes different listings of the blessing. At times the eighteen blessings are counted from Netilas Yadayim until Hagomel, and thus Birchas Hatorah is not included. At other times it is listed from Hanosen until after Birchas Hatorah. At other times it lists that Birchas Hashachar is twenty blessings which go from washing hands until after Birchas Hatorah. The Rambam ibid does not list the blessings of the Torah within the eighteen blessings and it is rather listed in a later Halacha in that chapter. He also does not include the blessing over washing hands but rather includes Hamapil, while Admur in 46/2 lists washing hands but not Hamapil. Regarding the opinion of Admur: In 46/1 Birchas Hatorah is listed separately from the 15 blessings from Hanosen- until Hagomel, as well as in 46/2 when Admur lists all of Birchas Hashachar the blessing said over Torah is not listed, thus implying that it is not considered to be defined within the grouping of “The morning blessings” [However one can argue that just like there are other blessings which are also seemingly included in Birchas Hashachar which are not included in the listing in 46/2 but are written in a separate Halacha, so too is the case regarding Birchas Hatorah, which is given a separate chapter. So too in 46/1 one can argue that also Elokaiy Neshama which is part of Birchas Hashachar, as listed in 46/2, is not included within the 15 blessings from Hanosen.] As well from the fact that Admur rules [59/4] that Birchas Hashachar cannot be heard from someone else without a Minyan, while by Birchas Hatorah he rules in 47/7 that one can hear it from someone else, implies that it is not considered to be included within “Birchas Hashachar“. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[7] Shaar Hakolel ibid; The Peri Eitz Chaim explains that the 18 blessings correspond to the 18 times that G-d’s name is mentioned in the 18 verses of Yehi Chivod, and in Shiras Hayam . [Shaar Hakolel 1/12]

[8] Shaar Hakolel 1/11

[9] Torah Oar p. 146; See there that the 18 blessings correspond to the angel Matat which contains two letters Tes, which is 9 each. Through Matat Hakadosh Baruch Hu [the level of Z”a of Beriya] rides on his light chariot and is elevated throughout his 18 thousand worlds.

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