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Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who gives our hearts understanding 
to distinguish day from night.
{The word שֶכֽוִי means a “rooster,” the bird that crows to signal the dawn. It also means “heart,” the organ that the ancients believed was the seat of human intelligence.}

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who has created me as a descendant of Israel.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who has created me as a free human being.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who opens the eyes of the blind.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who provides clothing for the naked.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who frees the captive.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who raises up the fallen.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who spread out the earth above the waters.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who has supplied my every want.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who strengthens our steps.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who girds Israel with strength.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who crowns Israel with splendor.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who gives strength to the weary.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe,
Who removes sleep from my eyes
and slumber from my eyelids.


These prayers of gratitude for God’s daily miracles are known as birchot ha-shahar, “Dawn Blessings.” Like all the prayers that precede them, they are usually recited in private, as we wait for the congregation of worshippers to assemble.

The shoresh of the word beracha (blessing) is b r ch “knee.” In the ancient world—as well as in some religions today—respect for God was shown by kneeling. The plural of beracha is berachot. In its contracted form (as here, in “the blessings of the dawn”), berachot becomes birchot.

Various sidurim differ as to the text of birchot ha-shahar. Traditional sidurim tend to be more masculine-centered and parochial; they include, for example, prayers that thank God for “not having made me a woman” and for “not having made me a gentile.” Contemporary sidurim, by contrast, tend to be more egalitarian and universalistic.

The Torah tells us that human beings are created in the image of God. The ancient rabbis interpreted “image of God” as meaning not that we look like God, but rather that it is incumbent upon us to act like God. Just as God clothed the naked (see above)—by providing garments for Adam and Eve at the very beginning of the Torah—so must we provide clothing for the naked. Just as God buried the dead—by personally attending to the burial of Moses at the very end of the Torah—so must we see to the needs of the deceased (see Eilu Devarim).

One interpretation of God's “girding Israel with strength” is that the Jewish people must not hesitate to defend itself when the need arises. As Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” However, God's “crowning Israel with splendor” means that the Jewish people must show mercy and compassion to all of God’s children. As Rabbi Hillel went on to say, “If I am for myself alone, what am I?”

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