Parshios Tazria & Metzorah
Question: How strict need one be about talking, eating or drinking
after reciting the berachah of Ha-mapil prior to retiring for the night?
Discussion: L’chatchilah, Ha-mapil is recited 1 right
before falling asleep. Indeed, according to one opinion, one may recite
Ha-mapil only in the last few moments before falling asleep, when his
eyelids are fluttering and he can barely remain awake. 2
Although we do not rule in accordance with this view, 3we still
attempt to recite Ha-mapil at the last possible moment before getting into
bed or before falling asleep. 4 Accordingly, one is encouraged
to prepare himself for sleep in such a way as to eliminate any interruptions
between Ha-mapil and falling asleep.
But this cannot always be arranged: Some people toss and turn for a while
before finally falling asleep; others can only fall asleep after reading or
learning for a while in bed; some parents know that no sooner than they have
recited Ha-mapil, a child will require attention. Should these people omit
Ha-mapil from their nightly Kerias Shema al ha-mitah?
Some poskim suggest that they should. They explain that Ha-mapil is similar
to she’hakol or borei peri ha-eitz, which must be recited right before
drinking or eating with no interruption allowed. One who recites a she’hakol
or borei peri ha-eitz and does not immediately eat or drink has recited a
berachah levatalah. In our case, too, one who interrupts between Ha-mapil
and falling asleep is reciting a berachah levatalah. 5 It
follows, therefore, that one who knows or suspects that he will have
difficultly in falling asleep should omit Ha-mapil. 6
The vast majority of poskim, however, disagree. 7 Ha-mapil, they
explain, is not a berachah for an individual’s personal sleep; rather, it is
a general blessing of praise to Hashem for giving His creations the
opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate themselves through sleep and rest. It
is a berachah similar to Elokai neshamah and the other morning birchos
ha-shachar, which are general berachos of praise to Hashem. Accordingly,
while Ha-mapil is recited near the time when one is ready to retire for the
night, there is no concern of berachah levatalah if sleep did not
immediately follow the recitation of the berachah. Even l’chatchilah,
therefore, one could recite Ha-mapil although he is well aware that he will
be forced to make an interruption after reciting the berachah.
What is the practical halachah? In deference to the minor¬ity opinion,
l’chatchilah one should plan that no interruption will take place after
reciting Ha-mapil. All eating, drinking, talking or any other activity
should take place prior to reciting the blessing. 8 But when
this is difficult to do, or b’diavad if one re¬cited Ha-mapil and now needs
to eat, drink, answer an important telephone call or do any other necessary
activity, he may do so and he need not be concerned about reciting a
Similarly, if after reciting Ha-mapil one realized that he forgot to daven
Ma’ariv (or repeat the evening Kerias Shema at the proper time), recite a
berachah acharonah, count Sefiras ha-omer, or recite Kiddush levanah (on the
last possible night), he must recite whatever tefillah or berachah he missed
and he need not be concerned that he already recited Ha-mapil.
Based on the above, the poskim infer the following: One who needs to use the
bathroom after Ha-mapil recites Asher yatzar; if he sees lightning or hears
thunder, the appropriate berachos are recited; if, for some reason, one
needs to recite Ha-mapil in a location other than his sleeping quarters, it
is permitted to do so, as we are not concerned about the laws of shinui
makom (change of location) in regards to Ha-mapil. 9
It follows, therefore, that there is no excuse to skip Ha-mapil before
retiring for the night. Omitting Ha-mapil because one fears being
interrupted between making the berachah and falling asleep is not justified.
Question: Under what circumstance would Ha-mapil not be recited?
Discussion: Ha-mapil would not be recited under the following
• When taking a nighttime catnap. 11
• When sleeping during the day. 12
• When going to sleep before tzeis ha-kochavim, even if one is planning to
sleep all night. 13
• When going to sleep in the early morning, if one will not fall asleep
until after alos ha-shachar. 14
• According to some Kabbalistic sources, one should omit Ha-mapil if he goes
to sleep past chatzos. In addition, Ha-mapil is not recited on Friday
nights, during the nights of Sefiras ha-omer and during Aseres yemi
teshuvah. Other Kabbalistic sources dispute these omissions and require that
Ha-mapil be recited at all times. 15
1. The poskim are in agreement that men and women are equally obligated to
recite Ha-mapil (Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 239:16) and that it has become universally
accepted for both men and women to do so (Aruch ha-Shulchan 239:6; Halichos
Shelomo 1:13, Devar Halachah 22).
2. Mishnah Berurah 239:3, quoting Seder ha-Yom.
3. Mishnah Berurah 239:3, quoting Knesses ha-Gedolah and other poskim.
4. While it is permitted to recite Ha-mapil and Kerias Shema al ha-mitah
either standing, sitting or lying in bed, it is recommended that Kerias
Shema be said standing or sitting, and Ha-mapil be recited once one is lying
in bed and ready to fall asleep; see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 71:4; Sha’ar
ha-Tziyun 239:10; Aruch ha-Shulchan 239:6.
5. Mishnah Berurah 239:4 and Beiur Halachah, s.v. samuch, seems to endorse
6. See Ben Ish Chai, Pekudei 12 and Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 2:131.
7. See Beiur Halachah 239:1, s.v. samuch, quoting Eliyahu Rabba and Chayei
Adam; Aruch ha-Shulchan 239:6; and many poskim quoted in Tzitz Eliezer
7:27-3 and Yechaveh Da’as 4:21.
8. In addition, Rama 239:1 writes that no eating, drinking or talking
should take place after Kerias Shema al ha-mitah, even before reciting Ha-mapil.
9. Halichos Shelomo 1:13-15; Tzitz Eliezer 7:27-3. Similarly, one may
respond to a parent’s question after reciting Ha-mapil; Mora Horim
v’Kibudam, quoting Harav B.Z. Abba Shaul.
10. Even an onen (the term given to a mourner during the period of time
between the death of a close relative and his burial), who is exempt from
all prayers and blessings, is obligated to recite Kerias Shema al ha-mitah
and Ha-mapil; Minchas Shelomo 1:91-25.
11. Teshuvos Keren l’David, O.C. 60.
12. Mishnah Berurah 239:8.
13. B’tzeil ha-Chochmah 5:166.
14. See Beiur Halachah 239:1, s.v. samuch.
15. See Sha’arei Teshuvah 239:1, Kaf ha-Chayim 239:8 and Yechaveh Da’as 4:21.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at email@example.com
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