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Thought for the Day: Making a Bracha Before the Mitzvah/Action May Be Performed

We do not live in a heliocentric solar system.  You don't have to take my word for it... here is a scholarly article entitled, The sun's orbital motion from High Energy Astrophysics Division at the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  For those who prefer Yahoo Answers, here you go.  All that being said, of course, you aren't very far off at all to assume a heliocentric solar system.  In fact, I find it an interesting kindness from the Creator to make the sun so (relatively) heavy, for otherwise Newton and Kepler would have had a devil of a time making any sense of the date.  None the less, whether or not you ever actually make a calculation that will be wrong of you assume a heliocentric solar system, you should know that there is such a concept.

I had a question rattling around for a long time: Suppose you have a mitzvah that cannot be performed before a certain time; tzitzis, t'fillin, chanuka candles, etc.  Is one permitted to make the bracha before the time that one can perform the mitzvah or must one wait to make the bracha until the time that he could also perform the mitzvah?  Yes, I know we are taking three or five seconds and, yes, I know we usually don't really the time when one can start the mitzvah that accurately.  But still... I wondered.  I saw something in the sefer וזות הברכה that indicates that one should actually wait; but first, for all you eye rollers out there, reasons to think it should be ok to recite the bracha early.

First of all, what is a bracha, anyway?  Perhaps it is just an announcement that I am going to perform a mitzvah/benefit from this world, but not really part and parcel of the mitzvah or even my performance of said mitzvah.  Consider kiddush Friday night.  One first says the bracha of בורא פרי הגפן and then the bracha of kiddush. It is, of course, forbidden to eat or even drink anything (even water) before kiddush.  That means that at the moment that one says the bracha of בורא פרי הגפן, it is actually forbidden to drink that wine.  Now, if it is permitted to make a bracha when the one only way to remove the issur is to make another statement -- which one might not be able to make (if he, G-d Forbid, choked, for example) -- then it certainly permitted to make a bracha when only the passage of time -- which can't be stopped -- will permit the action.

Want another proof?  There is  machlokes Rema and Shulchan Aruch if a woman can make a bracha on a time-bound positive mitzvah.  Since she is not commanded, says the Shulchan Aruch, how can she say "who commanded us"?  The Rema counters that the bracha is merely stating that Jews are commanded, even though this particular Jew (the woman) is exempt.  Again we see that a bracha is more of an announcement than part of the performance of the mitzvah.  In fact, the Shulchan Aruch might agree in this case because here, unlike the case of the woman, the person will become obligated in the action "real soon now, y'hear".

On the other hand, the sefer וזות הברכה brings a Rashba that says that the mitzvah is the avoda of the body, but the bracha is avoda of the soul.  Given that, perhaps one should wait to say the bracha until the time has come to perform the mitzvah.  Or maybe since the soul is outside of time, one needn't wait.  Or maybe since to be alive in this world means that the soul and body are connected, so the soul needs to yield to the time-bound body and wait.

On a practical level, not much difference, but אליבא דאמת... the difference is sublime.


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