06 – One Who Was Awake All Night

As a general rule, even a person who did not sleep all night recites Birkot HaShachar. As we learned (in halachah 3), these berachot were instituted on the basis of general benefit, and therefore, even if one does not personally derive pleasure from something, he still recites a berachah on it. However, there is a difference in minhag regarding a number of berachot.

Concerning washing one’s hands, it is agreed that a person needs to wash his hands before praying. However, the poskim differ regarding whether or not to recite a berachah on this washing. According to the Mishnah Berurah (4:30), before praying, it is best relieve oneself and touch a part of the body which is normally covered, thereby necessitating the washing of one’s hands with a berachah. However, in any case, the Sephardic minhag is not to say a berachah on this washing (Kaf HaChaim 4:49, and see above 8:2).

Similarly, regarding Birkot HaTorah, there is a dispute as to whether or not one is obligated to repeat these berachot with the dawn of a new day. Therefore it is best to hear the berachot recited by someone who slept, with the intention to fulfill the obligation by hearing them. If one cannot find another person around him who can recite the berachot for him to hear, some poskim rule that one may recite them by himself. Such is the custom of Sephardim and some Ashkenazim. There are others who rule that one should have in mind to fulfill his obligation in Ahavah Rabbah, and that is how most Ashkenazim practice (see the laws of Birkot HaTorah further in this book 10:7).

There is also doubt concerning Elokai Neshamah and Hama’avir sheinah, since some say that only one who has slept may recite them. In order to avoid uncertainty, it is best to hear these berachot being recited by someone who slept, and in doing so fulfill his obligation. If there is no one around to recite them, according to the Sephardic minhag and some Ashkenazic poskim, one may recite them himself, although the Mishnah Berurah maintains that he should not.

In summary: according to the Sephardic minhag and some Ashkenazim, one recites all the berachot, with the exception of Al netilat yadayim, and it is best to hear another person recite Birkot HaTorah, Elokai Neshamah, and Hama’avir sheinah. According to the majority of the Ashkenazim, based on the Mishnah Berurah, one first goes to the bathroom and then recites Al netilat yadayim. Concerning Birkot HaTorah, Elokai Neshamah, and Hama’avir sheinah, one should hear another person recite them. If there is no one else there who needs to say these berachot, a person may not recite them on his own; rather he should have in mind to fulfill his obligation of Birkot HaTorah in Ahavah Rabbah.[6]


[6]The Sephardic minhag, based on the Ari, is explained in Kaf HaChaim 46:49. The Kaf HaChaim also writes that according to the Kabbalah, Birkot HaShachar should be recited immediately after chatzot; however, one must be careful to recite Birkot HaTorah only after alot hashachar. See further in this book, chapter 10, note 8.
The Mishnah Berurah 46:24 writes that according to the Eliyah Rabbah, one who did not sleep should not recite Elokai Neshamah and Hama’avir sheinah. The Pri Megadim and the Sha’arei Teshuvah indicate that this matter requires further study. The Sha’arei Teshuvah concludes that one should fulfill his obligation by hearing them recited from another person. This implies that if there is no one he can listen to recite the berachot he may not recite them due to doubt. Still, the Aruch HaShulchan 46:13 writes that according to the Rama one may recite the berachot. An Ashkenazi who follows that custom has on whom to rely (and perhaps in order to limit disagreement, the ruling should be according to them). Regarding Birkot HaTorah, see the laws of Birkot HaTorah further in this book 10:7, where the opinions and customs are clarified.
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