Asher yatzar

The after-toilet prayer

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 18, 2010

Asher Yatzar is the blessing that observant Jews say after coming out of the loo. The first time that you see someone apparently mumbling to themselves outside the bathroom door, it can be a curious sight. But reciting Asher Yatzar is a characteristically Jewish act of recognising the spiritual in the mundane. 

Every humble act of excretion accomplishes a myriad of miracles in maintaining the body's health, ridding us of dangerous bacteria, micro-organisms and dead cells in the bodily waste. Anyone who has experienced the misery of malfunction in their inner plumbing knows that full functioning down there is truly something to be thankful for. 

The rabbis tell us that saying Asher Yatzar helps ensure good health. Feeling joy and gratitude for the manifold internal processes that we ordinarily take for granted can help start (and continue) the day with a buoyant sense of wellbeing.  The Rama, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, further says that the chief wonder we are thanking God for in this berachah is the binding together of body and soul. Taking in and digesting food is a moment in which spiritual pleasure and physical sustenance merge.

Last updated: 12:18pm, November 18 2010