By: Rabbi Aryeh Citron
|In the Torah portion of Eikev we read, “And now, O Israel, what does the L-rd, your G-d, demand of you? Only to fear the L-rd, your G-d, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul.”The Talmud interprets this verse to allude to the obligation that one must recite 100 blessings every day. There are several opinions as to how this is derived.
Established By Whom?
The Midrash says that the obligation of reciting 100 blessings a day was enacted by King David in response to a plague in which 100 (young) people died every day. After decreeing this, the plague ceased.
Some say that this enactment was actually established by Moses himself but was afterwards forgotten and reestablished by King David. In addition, although King David established it, the actual text of the berachot was forgotten and was reestablished by the members of the Great Assembly in the beginning of the Second Temple Era. Some say that King David instructed that the sages of later generations should use their wisdom to compose the actual text of the blessings.
Some say that during the time of Moshe and King David, people would say blessings in their own words. King David (and Moshe) established that one should say these “blessings” (i.e. words of praise to G-d) 100 times a day. The men of the Great Assembly formalized the blessings and gave them a specific text.
The Blessings on Mitzvot
The men of the Great Assembly established three types of blessings.
The rest of this article will focus on the blessings on Mitzvot.
The Importance of the Blessings on Mitzvot
When one says the blessing on the mitzvah slowly and with proper concentration, it enables one to do the mitzvah with full concentration and the proper intention.
The importance of the blessings on the Mitzvot is evident from the following Chassidic teachings.
A Mitzvah beyond the other Mitzvot
A Taste of Moshiach
Although a blessing is recited before fulfilling most mitzvot, there are some mitzvot upon which no blessing is recited. The types of mitzvot on which no blessing is recited are:
Blessing Before Mitzvah
Generally, one must say the blessing before doing a mitzvah in such a way there is as little interruption as possible between the blessing and the fulfillment of the mitzvah.
Blessings after the Mitzvah
There are three exceptions to the above rule, i.e., three mitzvot for which we say the blessing after performing the mitzvah (according to Ashkenazi custom). The reason for this is that it is sometimes necessary to make the blessing on these mitzvot after performing the mitzvah. It was therefore established to always follow this order in order to avoid confusion.
Lighting Shabbat Candles
Immersing in a Mikvah
To Stand Or Not to Stand?
There are several mitzvot that one is supposed to do while standing. When saying the blessing on these mitzvot, one should stand as well. The following mitzvot should be done while standing: Putting on a tallit, putting on the (head) Tefillin, blowing the Shofar, shaking a Lulav, counting the Omer, doing a Brit Milah (circumsicion), and sanctifying the new moon. Saying the blessing while standing is a sign of respect for the mitzvah and minimizes the time between the blessing and the performance of the mitzvah.
Certain mitzvot should be performed while sitting, such as eating matzah and maror and eating in the Sukkah. One should say the blessing on these mitzvot while sitting so as not to interrupt between the blessing and the mitzvah.
There are many mitzvot that one may perform either sitting or standing. It is preferable, though not obligatory, to recite the blessing on these mitzvot while standing in order to show respect to the blessing.
May we merit to bless Hashem and to be blessed by Him!
 Menachot 43b
 Rashi D.H. Mah
 Tosfot D.H Shoel
 Baal Haturim
 Roke’ach, cited in Pardes Yosef
 Sefer Ha’Eshkol by Rav Avraham ben Yitzchak of Narvonne, Hilchot Birkot Hashachar, 4. This also explains why when 100 people died out of a population of several million, it was considered a plague.
 Bamidbar Rabbah, 18, 21, see Tur. O.C. 46
 Sefer HaMinhag, cited in Pardes Yosef, Kad Hakemach by Rabbeinu Bachayeh, erech beracha. See also Rambam, Sefer haMitzvot, Shoresh 1 that Halachot Gedolot counts the obligation to recite 100 blessings a day as one of the 613 mitzvot.
 Rabeinu Bachayeh, on the verse
 Perisha, 16 on Tur, ibid
 Ben Ish Chai, Parshat Chukat, cited by Likutei Shoshanim by Menashe Cohen, Nahrei Esh by Rav Avraham Shimon Horowitz of Zelichov, Michtav Bet
 See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 59, 4
 Tikun 30, see Tanya chapter 23
 Likutei Torah, Parshat Balak, 70d and 71a
 Ibid, Parshat Va’Etchanan, 3d
 Ibid, Parshat Nitzavim, 50d
 Biur HaGra on O.C. ibid, 8
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, see Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 8, 2
 Mishnah Berurah, 8, 2 See Responsa Divrei Nechemiah, O.C. 9 as to the reasoning of each opinion
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 25, 17
 Ibid, 158, 16 based on Tosfot, Berachot 51a D.H Me’ikarah
 Kaf HaChaim, 158, 83, Yalkut Yosef, 58, 9
 Ibid, 263, 8
 Mishnah Berurah, 263, 27
 Yalkut Yosef, 263, 33
 Rama on Y.D. 200
 Taz 2 in ibid
 Mechaber, ibid
 Sefardim sit while putting on the hand Tefillin while Ashkenazim stand while doing this.
 But see Minchat Elazar, 1, 48 that a mohel who is also acting as a sandek may say the blessing and perform the brit while seated.
 Ateret Zekeinim on O.C. 8, 1. See also Sefer ha’Eshkol, beginning of Siman 83, Piskei Teshuvot, 8, 4
 Penei Yehoshuah on Megillah 21a D.H. Elah. See other sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, note 40
(One who makes the blessing on the Sukkah during Kiddush, and is standing for the Kiddush, should certainly stand while saying the blessing in the Sukkah.)
 See Mishnah Berurah, 8, 2, Piskei Teshuvot, ibid
Rabbi Aryeh Citron was born in California and learned in Yeshivahs around the world before receiving his Smicha in Melbourne Australia. He lives in Miami where he teaches Torah to Jews of all ages. He sends out a weekly email called Parsha Halacha and recently authored a book called “The Practical Parsha” Weekly Halacha for Daily Living. To subscribe to his email you can contact him at email@example.com.