14 Dec RECITING ONE HUNDRED BEROCHOS DAILY
The obligation to recite one hundred berochos daily is very relevant to our daily lives. Many schools have adopted programs to teach children all about this mitzvah. What is this mitzvah? When was it instituted, by whom and for what reason? Is this a d’Oraisa, d’rabbanan, or simply a nice thing to do? Are women obligated? What about children? What are the one hundred berochos that we say every day? What about Shabbos and other times of the year? Is the night considered part of the following day? All these and other issues will be addressed in this very fascinating topic of one hundred berochos.
The Gemora says that a person is obligated to recite one hundred berochos a day. This is derived from the posuk which says, “What (ma) does Hashem want from you?” We read the word ma as meah – one hundred. Some posit that the reason for using this posuk is that the entire posuk has one hundred letters (actually ninety-nine).
The Shulchan Aruch rules that one is obligated to recite at least one hundred berochos every day. Most poskim maintain that Dovid Hamelech established this concept (see below), while others maintain that it was originated by Moshe Rabbeinu. It was forgotten, and Dovid Hamelech reinstated it.
D’Oraisa or D’rabbanan or Nice Thing
There is a discussion in the poskim if this halacha is a d’Oraisa, d’rabbanan or simply a nice thing to do. Some poskim posit that it is a d’Oraisa, while most poskim say that it is a d’rabbanan. Some poskim do say that it is a pious act, but is not required. This is implied from the fact that the Gemora praises a person who ate fruits to fulfill the one hundred daily berochos. This would indicate that it is not obligatory.
There are many reasons given for this halacha. Some base it on the following event. During the time of Dovid Hamelech, a terrible plague caused the death of one hundred people every day. Through ruach hakodesh, Dovid Hamelech understood the reason for the outbreak, and established this halacha to recite one hundred berochos every day. As a result, the deaths stopped. The Levush says that the people at that time did not see the good of Hashem and did not recite the berochos correctly. They were punished, so Dovid Hamelech established one hundred berochos. (Since the berochos prevent death, one should be careful to say each word clearly, especially the name of Hashem). The Bach says that the danger of one hundred people dying applies today as well, and we need to say the one hundred berochos every day.
In addition, there are ninety-eight curses mentioned in the Torah, and the words kol makeh and kol choli add two more, for a total of one hundred. The one hundred berochos we say each day save us from these curses.
Another basic reason for this obligation is to bring one to revere Hashem, love Him, and remember Him always.
There are reasons based on Kabbalah as well.
Focus of the One Hundred Berochos
Many seforim explain the link between one hundred berochos and yiras Shomayim. We are accustomed to receive whatever we need and desire and we forget that everything we have comes from Hashem. Therefore, we recite one hundred berochos each day to remind and instill in us that everything is from Hashem. We remember this when we recite Hamachzir Nishamos Lifgarim Meisim, Pokeach Ivrim and the like. It is a segulah to fear Hashem.
Some maintain that the goal is to recite one hundred berochos on different things (davening three different times a day is called different things). The mitzvah is not to just recite one hundred berochos.
Harav Shimshon Pinkus zt”l says that the point of this halacha is for us to know that Hashem loves us and is close to us. Therefore, we say thank you to Him for all He gives us.
Whoever recites one hundred berochos a day merits being a ben Olom Haba. One who fulfills the one hundred berochos a day is considered as if he brought a korbon.
Adding to the One Hundred
One who adds to the reciting of one hundred berochos a day is praiseworthy. Others say there is no hidur to add to the one hundred. In addition, one should make sure to calculate the number of berochos he recites during the day. It would seem that this is only necessary to be done on Shabbos and Yom Tov when it is difficult to make one hundred berochos.
Can’t Get to One Hundred
If, for some reason, one cannot get to one hundred berochos (i.e. he is sick), is there a point in trying to get as close as possible to one hundred? The Brisker Rav zt”l is quoted as saying that there is no point in adding berochos if one will not achieve one hundred, as the goal is to praise Hashem with one hundred berochos. Others do not seem convinced that this is so.
There is a discussion in the poskim whether women have this obligation. Some exempt women because tzitzis and tefillin are counted towards the one hundred berochos, and women do not recite these berochos. Others maintain that they can replace them with other berochos. In addition, the case for women to be obligated can be based on the following: Women are obligated in the mitzvah of mezuzah because mezuzah protects, and women need protection as well. Therefore, since the one hundred berochos protect from death, women would need this protection as well. One can argue, however, that only men died during the plague (mentioned above), and women were not affected.
Some poskim exempt women because they are not obligated to daven three times a day, and it is not feasible that they have an obligation to recite one hundred berochos. It is odd that no earlier poskim discuss this issue. Until recently, women were largely uneducated, and it would seem awkward to require them to recite one hundred berochos. Modern-day women are highly educated, but are still exempt.
Others say it may be considered a time-bound mitzvah from which women are exempt. Some do require women in one hundred berochos, but this is not the overwhelming custom.
Children do not recite the berochos on tefillin and tallis. In addition, many children do not eat bread every day or daven three times a day. Therefore, some maintain that young children do not have to be taught to do this mitzvah. Others disagree with this premise.
When the Day Begins
When does the day begin? Do we start upon awakening in the morning until the night, or from the night until the next night? Some indicate that it starts from the morning, while the consensus of the poskim is that the reckoning of the hundred berochos starts from the evening until the next evening.
On a weekday, it is easy to reach one hundred berochos. The total will be affected by the number of meals one eats during the day, in addition to a few differences between Sefardim and Ashkenazim, as Sefardim make a few less berochos.
Al Netilas Yadayim (1)
Asher Yotzar (1)
Birchos Hashachar (15)
Birchos HaTorah (3); some say two berochos.
Boruch She’omar (1)
Birchos Krias Shema day and night (7)
Shemoneh Esrei 19 x 3 (57)
Meals – 2 x (8) (6 – Al Netilas Yadayim and Hamotzi and four of Birchas Hamazon). The Bais Yosef adds drinking during a meal, with a brocha before and after (2). He is probably referring to kos shel brocha, which many people do not observe. Even when this rule is observed, only the one who leads the zimun makes the brocha and not all people present.
The above calculation, based primarily on the custom of Sefardim, adds up to one hundred and five berochos each day.
However, this assumes that one eats two bread meals each day. Those who do not eat bread that often would have to make it up with other berochos during the day.
Below we will detail the one hundred berochos daily according to the Ashkenazim:
The Ashkenazim recite two berochos on tefillin and also the brocha of Hanosen Layaeif Koach in Birchos Hashachar, as well as the brocha of Yiru Eineniu in Maariv. Here, too, those who do not eat bread twice per day must find other sources to reach one hundred. Furthermore, one does not recite a brocha on a tallis katton, if one recites a brocha on a tallis gadol.
Al Netilas Yadayim (1)
Asher Yotzar (1)
Tzitzis (1) (some say one on tallis katton and one on tallis gadol)
Birchos Hashachar (16)
Birchos Hatorah (3)
Boruch She’omar (1)
Birchos Krias Shema day and night (8)
Shemoneh Esrei 19 x 3 (57)
These calculations arrive at ninety-two berochos.
Meals – (8) per meal, if two meals then 16. Most people do not drink wine at meals, so two berochos are excluded from each meal (especially since most times one bentches by himself). If one drinks wine and eats two meals then we add another four berochos which brings us to one hundred and eight.
Since some people wash once per day and do not drink wine at their meal, we arrive at one hundred.
As mentioned above, Shabbos and Yom Tov are much more challenging. It is important to point out that the obligation applies even on these days.
The main challenge on Shabbos is that there are twelve fewer berochos from each Shemoneh Esrei, plus no birchos tefillin (38). However, we add Magen Avos (some say Me’ein Sheva), Kiddush, the seven berochos of Mussaf, and the eight berochos of shalosh seudos (according to those who make a brocha on a drink in middle of the meal it is eight – otherwise it is six berochos). We are still missing many berochos.
The Gemora suggests eating fruit and other snacks during the day to add additional berochos. If this is not sufficient then one can listen to the berochos of aliyos during Shacharis and Mincha (and answer amen). The ten aliyos (Shacharis and Mincha) add up to twenty berochos. One should only rely on this if he has no means to make the missing berochos himself.
One may count the berochos of maftir and the berochos of the haftora by answering amen.
One who eats shalosh seudos after dark may count the berochos recited at this meal for Shabbos unless he has already davened Maariv. Some say that when one makes Shabbos early the berochos recited count towards Friday and not Shabbos. Others argue with this premise. It seems like the custom is to be lenient with this. Those who do not actually recite Hagofen, Hamotzi or Havdala cannot count those berochos. Others say that one should make sure to use a cup of wine at bentching on Shabbos to gain extra berochos even if he does not follow this practice during the week.
The poskim mention a few other ways to achieve the one hundred berochos on Shabbos. Some maintain that Modim equals one hundred in gematria and one who says Modim properly is like he said one hundred berochos.
One who makes Kiddush for different people many times (such as in a hospital) may count each brocha of Kiddush towards the one hundred berochos.
On Shabbos Chanukah we add the two birchos Hallel. The same is true for Shabbos Rosh Chodesh.
In regard to reciting Birchos Ha’illanos on Shabbos, some poskim forbid it out of concern that one might pluck a bud from the tree, or that he might carry a siddur. Nonetheless, virtually all of the poskim maintain that this brocha may be recited on Shabbos. Some say that one may recite it in order to reach the one hundred berochos on Shabbos.
Listening to Chazaras Hashatz
There is a discussion in the poskim whether one may count listening to chazaras hashatz.
Some poskim maintain that in extraordinary situations one may count the listening of chazaras hashatz. This may apply to Yom Kippur (see below for other possibilities regarding Yom Kippur).
Ein K’Elokeinu on Shabbos
There is a discussion in the poskim if reciting Ein K’Elokeinu counts towards the one hundred berochos. It could be that the praises to Hashem suffice. The calculation would be as follows: in Ein K’Elokeinu we say “ein,” “mi” and “nodeh” four times. The first letters spell amen. In addition we say boruch four times and ata four times, which is equal to 12 amens. The overwhelming custom is to not count Ein K’Elokeinu, as it is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch. Nevertheless, one may rely on the lenient opinion in place of need.
Yom Tov has the same issue as Shabbos and the eitzahs described above work for Yom Tov as well. There is one less meal since we do not have shalosh seudos on Yom Tov.
According to the Sefardim, since we have at least one less meal on a fast day we have ninety-seven berochos. According to the Ashkenazim as well, one less meal on a fast would still leave us with less than one hundred berochos. Therefore, we would make it up by reciting Asher Yotzar and a brocha on foods at night before the fast start (obviously not on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av).
There are no meals at all on Tisha B’Av. Furthermore, according to some poskim the brocha of She’asa Li Kol Tzorki is omitted. Therefore we have to rely on listening to the laining, answering amen, and reciting of Asher Yotzar to achieve one hundred berochos. There is a discussion in the poskim if one is allowed to smell besamim on Tisha B’Av (and count it towards the one hundred berochos).
On Rosh Hashanah we have one less meal than on Shabbos since we do not eat shalosh seudos. We add the Shehechiyanu of Kiddush, the brocha on the simonim, and the berochos on the shofar (some recite Shehechiyanu on the shofar the second day). One would have to do the eitzahs described for Shabbos as well.
Yom Kippur is the most challenging day. Some poskim rule that we omit She’asa Li Kol Tzorki. Therefore, one should follow the earlier suggestion regarding laining. Although this is not the preferred method on Shabbos, it is considered lechatchilah for Yom Kippur. Since one will still be missing three berochos, he should smell besamim. Some poskim frown on this practice, since the nishoma has enjoyment from the smelling (and this is not in the spirit of Yom Kippur). The custom is like the first opinion.
The brocha may be recited more than once, but one should be sure to allow for a sufficient amount of time to elapse between each brocha. In addition, if one uses the bathroom and has to recite Asher Yotzar it counts towards the one hundred berochos. However, in most cases one does not smell the besamim more than once; therefore some suggest the following: One should ask someone to say Birchos Hashachar out loud and he should listen and answer amen. This will be included towards the one hundred berochos.
On Succos we add the berochos of Al Netilas Lulav, Shehechiyanu for lulav, Leisheiv B’succah, Shehechiyanu at Kiddush, and Hallel. Again one would have to do the eitzahs mentioned above.
On Pesach we add the Shehechiyanu of Kiddush, Ho’adama on karpas, Asher G’alanu by the end of Maggid, Borei Pri Hagofen on the second cup, Al Achilas Matzah, Al Achilas Marror, the Borei Pri Hagofen on the third cup, Hallel, brocha rishona on the fourth cup, and the brocha acharona on the fourth cup. Again one would have to do the eitzahs mentioned above.
On Shavuos we add Shehechiyanu by Kiddush and recite Hallel. If one is awake all night then he misses out on Hamapil, Elokay Neshoma, Hamaveir Sheinah, and Birchos HaTorah. One should be stringent and not count hearing these berochos from others towards the one hundred berochos. Here, too, one needs to rely on some of the eitzahs regarding Shabbos.
Reciting an Unnecessary Brocha
It is forbidden to recite unnecessary berochos. This is true even if one needs it to count towards the one hundred berochos. Some are lenient on this since one is reciting the brocha for the mitzvah of making the one hundred berochos. Therefore, it is considered a necessary brocha.
One should not be lazy in regard to the recital of the one hundred berochos a day.
Have to Repeat Shemoneh Esrei
If one forgot mashiv haruach or Ya’aleh V’yavo and must repeat Shemoneh Esrei, do his berochos count towards the one hundred, and can he count the next set of berochos? The Chazon Ish zt”l rules that the first Shemoneh Esrei is counted towards the one hundred berochos. It would seem that the second Shemoneh Esrei also counts.
When a shatz repeats the Shemoneh Esrei, those berochos count towards the one hundred berochos.