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Understanding the Morning Blessings

Strength to the Weary

The morning blessings thank Hashem for many of the kindnesses that He bestows on us each day. Most of these blessings are enumerated in the Gemara, and have been recited for thousands of years. However, there is one that is of latter origin: "…Who gives strength to the weary."

This blessing is not mentioned in the Talmud, and was instituted latter by the Geonim. Although the Shulchan Aruch instructs us not to say it with Hashem's name, the custom has developed to do so along with all of the other morning blessings (Mishna Berura 46,22).

Late-night learning, crying babies, last-minute work deadlines, and major exams can all lead us to sleep less than our bodies need. Can we still recite this blessing if we slept only three hours (or less) and still feel exhausted? We do so even when experiencing sleep deprivation, since Hashem still gives us the strength to carry on. Even if we were up all night long, we can still say "Who gives strength to the weary" with Hashem's name.

However, if we did not sleep at all (or less than half an hour) the next blessing is problematic, when we thank Hashem for "removing sleep from our eyes" (Hama’avir sheina). Similarly, since the neshama leaves the body only during sleep, thanking Hashem for "returning our neshama" (Elokai Neshama) would be inaccurate. If a person did not sleep at least half an hour at night, e.g., Shavous night, he should try to hear these blessings from someone who slept (Mishna Berura 46,24).

Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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