We mentioned in a previous lesson that the common custom, for one who plans to daven shacharis in shul with a minyan, is for him to recite the fifteen brachos (found in the Artscroll Siddur, pp.18-20) at shul, and not at home. In the time that the author of the Shulchan Aruch lived and wrote, the brachos were typically recited at home, each one accompanying the particular act or experience for which it was composed by the Sages. The idea behind these brachos is the same as that of the brachos we make before eating. We are, of course, thanking Hashem for his gifts, but not only that; we are actually requesting His permission to enjoy His gifts, without which we would be guilty of stealing from Him! The morning brachos are for those non-edible gifts we enjoy as we arise to a new day and prepare to go out and function in the world!
The following are most of the Birchos Hashachar, with a brief description of which ‘gift’ each bracha was intended for:
‘… Asher nasan lasechvi vinah…’ (Who gave the heart understanding) – for the gift of the mind and the ability of discernment.
‘… Pokeiach ivrim’ (Who gives sight to the blind) – for the gift of sight (i.e. each one of us!)
‘… Malbish arumim’ (Who clothes the naked) – for the gift of clothing
‘… Matir asurim’ (Who releases the bound) – for the gift of being able to sit up
‘… Zokeif kefufim’ (Who straightens the bent) – for the gift of being able to stand up straight ‘… Rokah ha’aretz al hamayim’ (Who spreads out the earth upon the waters) – for the gift of land
‘… She-asah li kol tzarki’ (Who has provided me my every need) – for the gift of shoes
‘… Hameichin mitzadei gaver’ (Who firms man’s footsteps) – for the gift of being able to walk
‘… Ozeir yisrael big’vurah’ (Who girds Israel with strength) – for the special gift of modesty that Hashem gave to the Jewish People, as reflected in the obligation we have to don a belt or sash in order to separate between the upper and lower parts of our bodies, when davening and reciting brachos
‘… Oteir yisrael b’sif-arah’ (Who crowns Israel with splendor) – for the special gift of humility that Hashem gave the Jewish People, as reflected in the obligation to cover our heads with a yarmulka. (Note: The few that are missing we hope to cover in a future lesson.)