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Thought for the Day: What Category of Bracha is אשר יצר?

Great taste!  Less filling!  While I realize that a beer advertising campaign may not be the most traditional way to begin a d'var Torah, it also happens to set just the right mindset for those who remember it.  Anyway, the beer is kosher and I have never been accused of being a traditional anything.

Besides ברכות המצוות (blessings for the opportunities we have to connect directly to the Creator), we have three basic categories of ברכות:

  • הנהנין -- On pleasures that we are about to experience, such as tastes and fragrances.
  • שבח/הודיה -- praise/thanksgiving (closely linked in Hebrew); basically all of the brachos we make every morning for vision, being a Jew, having shoes, etc.
  • תפילה -- prayers and supplications; the 13 middle ברכות of of Shmone Esrei, for example.
So... what category is אשר יצר?  There is nothing in the wording to help decide.  There is certainly praise for HaShem's Wisdom (and/or for giving us wisdom) and the wonders He performs. However, there is also an acknowledgement are lives are very fragile (so many parts that have to work together!) and a supplication: Blessed art Thou... Healer of all flesh.  On the other hand, it also sounds a lot like every ברכת הנהנין that we say; a bracha for the pleasure of eating a fruit praises HaShem for creating the trees, this bracha certainly praises HaShem for making my plumbing.  So we need something other than the wording of the bracha to decide this question.

Let's note, by they way, that the first אשר יצר we say in the morning is different than all the rest that we make during the day.  That first אשר יצר is really one of the ברכות השחר/daily morning blessings that were established to say once each day.  There is even an opinion to say that אשר יצר even if you didn't use the water closet (though the Mishna Brura recommends that you do, and at my age I don't even understand the question any more).

So we are talking about the אשר יצר that one makes on each exit from the WC, as paskened in Shulchan Aruch, OC 7:1?  Look at syef 3, where the Shulchan Aruch paskens that if one used the WC and didn't make the bracha, then needed to go again, he should make אשר יצר twice; once for each time he used the facilities.  The Mishna Brura (sk 6) explains that the m'chaber means to say that just like you have תשלומין/make ups for shmone esrei, you have תשלומין for אשר יצר.  Ah ha!  So the Mishna Brura learns that the m'chaber paskens that אשר יצר is תפילה.  The Pri Chadash (brought in the Dirshu MB) says no, the m'chaber means that you say it as many times as you used the facilities, not just once make up like sh'mone esrei; Ah ha!  The Pri Chadash learns that the m'chaber paskens that אשר יצר is a ברכת הנהנין.  But wait... the Mishna Brura (later in sk 6) says that others argue on the m'chaber and say that אשר יצר is more like ברכת מזון; that is: שבח/הודיה.  Ta da, our final category.

!שבח/הודיה! תפילה! הנהנין  So seems to be all three and all three are in one bracha.  It's worth spending a few moments to contemplate all that the next time you feel the urge.

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