Introduction to Blessings (Brachot)

Blessings as Thanks

We say blessings as thanks to God for the good we receive from Him; this is a form of acknowledging and expressing gratitude (hakarat ha’tov).

Having an appreciation for the physical world and the beauty and goodness in it is a means of relating to God through Creation. People can maintain a continual awareness of, and relationship with, God by saying blessings:

* Before and after eating; * After waking in the morning; * At various types of life experiences; * In many other situations.

Blessings Formulations

Some blessings begin with Baruch ata adonai only; some blessings continue with eloheinu melech ha'olam. The shorter blessings come at the end of long (compound) blessings.

Reason: There is no mention of malchut at the end of a blessing.

How To Say Blessings

When saying blessings or prayers, it is generally best to say the words of the blessing or prayer out loud since doing so can help you to concentrate on what is being said. (The main exception is the amida prayer.)

Normally, you should stand while saying blessings before doing a mitzva, unless the mitzva is done while seated (in which case you sit when saying the blessing).

REASON: So there is no delay between saying the blessing and doing the mitzva.

NOTE: Although there is not necessarily any need to stand while doing mitzvot, many mitzvot are done while standing due to the nature of the mitzva or for convenience.

If you find you have made an error in saying a blessing or prayer, you may correct your error without having to repeat any previous parts if you do so within 2.5 seconds of having made the error.

Note: Blessings (brachot) and Prayers (tefilot) are in separate sections in this website, even though prayers have blessings within them.

Categories of Blessings

There are three main categories of blessings:

  1. Enjoyment (birchot nehenin), such as on foods and scents.
  2. Praise and Thanks to God (shevach v'hoda’a), such as when saying she’hecheyanu,on seeing mountains and the sea, or when good happens to us.
  3. Commandments/Mitzvot (birchot mitzva), such as reading the Torah, using the lulav, or lighting Shabbat candles.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L'Maaseh appears courtesy of Visit their web site for more information.

This material is provided for informational purposes only - not a substitute for the consultation of a competent rabbi.