04 – Until When May One Recite Birkot HaShachar?

Whoever forgot to recite Birkot HaShachar before the prayer service may recite them afterwards, with the exception of the blessing Al netilat yadayim, which may not be recited after praying because it was instituted as a preparation for prayer. Similarly, he may not recite Birkot HaTorah since he already fulfilled his obligation by saying Ahavat Olam. Also, he may not recite Elokai Neshamah, since there are those who say that he already fulfilled his obligation to recite Elokai Neshamah when he recited Birkat Mechayei hameitim in the Amidah.

Therefore, one who must skip Birkot HaShachar in order to pray in a minyan on time should at least recite Al netilat yadayim, Elokai Neshamah, and Birkot HaTorah first, because if he does not recite them first, he will not be able to make them up after the prayer service (Mishnah Berurah 52:2).[2]

Until when may he recite them? Since there are those who equate the time to recite the berachot to the time of the Amidah, l’chatchilah he should try to recite them before the first four hours of the day have passed, and b’dieved until chatzot (halachic noon). However, if he did not succeed in saying them before chatzot, b’dieved he may recite them the whole day. The reason for this is that according to the majority of poskim, the time to say the berachot differs from the time to recite Shacharit, because Birkot HaShachar are blessings of thanks for the good things from which people derive pleasure throughout the day.[3]

[2]. For a more extensive outline of the laws of Birkot HaTorah, see further in this book, 10:2 and note 2. Concerning Elokai Neshamah, the Mishnah Berurah 52:9 and Bei’ur Halachah write that the Pri Chadash maintains that one fulfills his obligation by reciting Birkat Mechayei hameitim. The Chayei Adam and Derech HaChaim quote him. However, Ma’amar Mordechai disagrees with him. That is also what the Pri Megadim understands from the Rama’s words, and what we can infer from the Gra’s writings. In any case, in order to avoid uncertainty, one who skips Birkot HaShachar in order to pray in a minyan should first recite Elokai Neshamah. If he did not recite it, he may not recite it after the prayer service, for safek berachot l’hakel, (when there is doubt regarding the recital of berachot we are lenient). However, the Bei’ur Halachah writes that one may rely on all of the poskim who maintain that one may recite Elokai Neshamah after the prayer service. Further, the Mishnah Berurah writes that if he explicitly has kavanah in Birkat Mechayei hameitim not to fulfill his obligation for saying Elokai Neshamah, he does not fulfill it and he may recite it after the prayer service. However, the Yechaveh Da’at 4:5, in the footnote, writes that this kavanah does not help. According to this, if, in the middle of saying Birkot Keriat Shema, he remembers that he did not recite Birkot HaShachar, he should recite Elokai Neshamah even between the berachot, so as not to miss out on saying it altogether (Yalkut Yosef 46:23-24).
[3]. The Derech HaChaim, based on the Magen Avraham, writes that the laws of Birkot HaShachar are equal to the laws of the Amidah, and just as the time of the Amidah lasts four proportional hours, which is a third of the day, so does the time to recite Birkot HaShachar. There are those who maintain that just as b’dieved one may recite Shacharit until chatzot (halachic noon), the same is true for Birkot HaShachar (Rabbi Shlomo Kluger). Kaf HaChaim 71:4 writes that if one already prayed Shacharit he may recite Birkot HaShachar within the first four hours of the day, and if he did not yet pray Shacharit, he may recite them until chatzot. However, according to the majority of poskim, Birkot HaShachar are not directly linked to prayer, and one who forgets to recite them in the morning may recite them the entire day, and that is what is written in Mishnah Berurah 52:10 and Rav Pe’alim 2, Orach Chaim 8. (According to the Gra, if one forgot to recite them during the day, he may say them even at night until he goes to sleep. The Yalkut Yosef 46:25 writes that one who practices this way has on whom to rely.)

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The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman