02. She-asani Ki-rtzono – For Having Made Me According to His Will

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The Sages instituted three special berakhot of thanksgiving within Birkhot Ha-shaĥar. They are: “…for not having made me a gentile” (She-lo Asani Goy), “…for not having made me a slave” (She-lo Asani Aved”), and “…For not having made me a woman” (She-lo Asani Isha). Women recite, “…Who made me according to His will” (She-asani Ki-rtzono).

There are two interpretations of this berakha. According to one interpretation, it is a sort of acceptance of a harsh judgment (hatzdakat ha-din), of the fact that even though women do not have as many mitzvot, they bless God “for having made me according to his will” out of faith that everything is for the good (Tur 46:4). In contrast, the second interpretation emphasizes women’s superiority in this world. In this blessing, the innate additional virtue of women is brought to fruition, for women are inherently more in tune with God’s will. Therefore, only they can say “…Who made me according to His will.” The fact that women must fulfill less mitzvot than men is because by nature they are more refined and therefore require less mitzvot to improve themselves. Man was created from dust of the earth, whereas woman was created from a more sublime substance, man’s rib. In other words, women are a manifestation of a more advanced stage of development than men (Siĥot Ha-Ritzya, Bereishit pp. 77-78; Shemot p. 380; Olat Re’iyah vol. 1, pp. 71-72).

It is no coincidence that the simple interpretation shows favor to men and the deeper meaning to women. Indeed, at first glance, men have greater virtue. The virtue of women can only be recognized by means of a more profound analysis. Therefore modesty, a trait which emphasizes one’s inner virtue is more significant for women.

In practice, Ashkenazic women have the custom to recite this berakha in full: “Barukh Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melekh Ha-olam She-asani ki-rtzono” (“Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who made me according to His will”), whereas Sephardic women recite this berakha without God’s name: “Barukh She-asani Ki-rtzono” (“Blessed is He Who made me according to His will”).  Even though SA 46:4 rules that God’s name should be uttered in this berakha, most Sephardic women customarily omitted it for fear of reciting a berakha le-vatala, as this blessing is not mentioned in the Talmud (Kaf Ha-ĥayim 46:41).

In the berakhot of She-lo Asani Goy and She-lo Asani Aved, Sephardic women customarily use the feminine forms of the berakha’s objects: “goya” and “shifĥa.” In contrast, Ashkenazic women customarily to recite these berakhot as they are said by men, because the words “goy” and “eved” can include both men and women.

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