Halacha Date: 16 Tevet 5781 December 31 2020
In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the general obligations regarding the morning blessings and the blessings of the Torah. We have explained that there is no difference in terms of this obligation between men and women besides for the fact that women do not recite the blessing of “Shelo Asani Isha”; instead, they recite the blessing of “She’asani Kirtzono” without mentioning Hashem’s name.
“When In Doubt Regarding a Blessing, Do Not Bless”
We have a very important rule that “when in doubt regarding a blessing, do not bless.” This means that because of the severity of the prohibition of uttering Hashem’s name in vain, if a doubt arises regarding whether or not to recite a blessing, were we to rule stringently and require one to recite the blessing when in doubt, we would be causing Hashem’s name to be uttered in vain, for reciting an unnecessary blessing is tantamount to uttering Hashem’s name in vain.
A Doubt Regarding Birkat Hamazon
Regarding Birkat Hamazon, however, when one is in doubt whether or not one has recited Birkat Hamazon, one must recite it again (besides for the fourth blessing of “Ha’Tov Ve’Hametiv”), for reciting Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation and when one is in doubt regarding a Torah obligation, one must act stringently. Regarding other blessings, however, which are only a rabbinic enactment, if any doubt arises about them, we rule leniently.
The Law Regarding the Morning Blessings
Based on the above, if one is in doubt whether or not one has recited the morning blessings, one would not recite them again, for these blessings are not a Torah obligation and are merely rabbinic. Thus, in any situation of doubt, we act leniently and do not bless.
The Law Regarding the Blessings of the Torah
Regarding the blessings of the Torah, the Gemara in Masechet Berachot (21a) quotes the opinion of Rav Yehuda that they are in fact a Torah obligation; thus, if one is in doubt if one has recited them or not, one must recite them again. However, the Gemara (ibid.) questions the words of Rav Yehuda and we find no answer to this question. Although some Rishonim rule that the blessings of the Torah are in fact a Torah obligation, the majority opinion among the Poskim is that the blessings of the Torah are indeed only a rabbinic obligation. This is indeed the law.
Thus, if one is in doubt whether or not one has recited the blessings of the Torah, one should not recite these blessings again for the Halacha on this matter follows the opinion that the blessings of the Torah are only a rabbinic obligation. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes, however, that one who wishes to remove himself from all doubt should hear these blessings from someone who has not recited them yet and ask him to have one in mind (to have in mind that the listener will fulfill his obligation through his own recitation) when he blesses. If the one in doubt is unable to find anyone who has not yet recited the blessings of the Torah, one should think the words of the blessings of the Torah in one’s mind without actually uttering them and this will be sufficient. In the future though, one should recite the precious blessings of the Torah and the like with proper concentration so that one will no longer be in a doubtful situation.