Peninei Halakha

07. One Who Was Awake All Night

As a general rule, even one who stayed up all night recites Birkhot Ha-shaĥar. As we learned (section 4 above), these berakhot were instituted on the basis of general enjoyment, and therefore, even if one does not personally derive pleasure from something, she still recites a berakha on it. However, there are differing customs regarding the number of berakhot recited.

With regard to netilat yadayim, according to Sephardic custom one does not recite a berakha (Kaf Ha-ĥayim 4:49). According to the Ashkenazic custom, if one is getting ready to pray the Amida, it is best that before praying, she goes to the bathroom and touches a part of the body which is normally covered, thereby necessitating netilat yadayim with a berakha (MB 4:30; see above, 5:5).

There is a dispute about whether or not one must repeat Birkhot Ha-Torah with the dawn of a new day. Therefore, it is best that the woman praying recites Ahavat Olam, which in addition to being one of the Birkhot Keri’at Shema, can take the place of Birkhot Ha-Torah. One who does so must take care to recite the Shema following the berakha in order to learn Torah after its recitation. 1

Likewise, there is doubt concerning Elokai Neshama and Ha-ma’avir Sheina, since some say that only one who has slept may recite them. In order to avoid uncertainty, it is best to hear these berakhot being recited by someone who has slept with intent to fulfill her obligation. If there is no one around to recite them, according to Sephardic practice and some Ashkenazic poskim, she may recite them herself (Peninei Halakha: Prayer 9:6 and n. 6; however, those who follow MB do not recite them).

  1. For men there is uncertainty whether the recitation of Shema is considered Torah study or not, as explained in Peninei Halakha: Prayer, ch. 10 n. 2. However, concerning women, since they are not obligated to recite Shema, clearly its recitation is considered Torah study, as explained in MB 47:17. According to many poskim, men must recite Birkhot Ha-Torah with the dawn of a new day, and that is the practice of Sephardim and some Ashkenazim, as clarified in Peninei Halakha: Prayer 10:7. However, a woman, in any case of uncertainty, should be lenient and refrain from reciting the berakhot (Birkei Yosef; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 47:34). One reason for this is that in the opinion of many poskim, men have a biblical obligation to recite Birkhot Ha-Torah, and therefore in cases of uncertainty they must act stringently and recite the berakhot, whereas women are not biblically commanded to recite Birkhot Ha-Torah. Hence, the correct ruling is that in any case of uncertainty, a woman must recite Ahavat Olam (Ahava Rabba in the Ashkenazic liturgy) and with that she will have fulfilled her obligation of Birkhot Ha-Torah, as explained in SA 47:7. Even a woman who is not accustomed to reciting Ahavat Olam every day can still fulfill her obligation by reciting it. This is explained below, 7:5 (see also above, ch. 2 n. 10.)

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

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