Birchot hashachar

Morning blessings

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 25, 2010

Birchot Hashachar are a series of blessings acknowledging and giving thanks for the daily experiences that we encounter anew each morning. When we awaken, open our eyes, dress, sit up, stand on firm ground, put on shoes, don a hat and walk, there is a blessing for each of these moments.

The Talmud writes that one should say the berachah when one has the associated experience (Berachot 60a). Nowadays, most people's custom is to wait until arriving at synagogue where the chazan reels off these blessings and the community answer "Amen" to each one. The Shulchan Aruch writes that this situation has come about because many people do not know and could not say the blessings on their own (Orach Chaim, 26:2).

However, arguably, something important has been lost in this process. Many contemporary Jews, influenced by contact with Eastern spiritual traditions, have noticed that the Birchot Hashachar seem to have been conceived as a kind of mindfulness meditation. They invite us to stop, fully experience and give thanks for the everyday miracles at the start of each day.

Last updated: 12:07pm, November 25 2010