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Can a man say a brachah with just boxer shorts on, or does he need to be fully dressed, for example with a "double covering" like pants, and/or wearing a shirt, when I wake up and want to wash netilat yadayim? (Assume he is wearing a Kippah.)

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I hope not just boxers, you should (hopefully) be wearing a yarmulka when saying Hashem's name. ;) – HodofHod Apr 24 '12 at 1:55
Yes, Kippah as well. :) – ALK Apr 24 '12 at 2:55
Do the boxers have elastic? – yydl Apr 24 '12 at 3:21
Also, welcome to the site, ALK, and thanks for asking this question! Please keep in mind that answers you get here should be treated as if they came from a crowd of your friends. For practical halacha, always consult your LOR. – HodofHod Apr 24 '12 at 4:05
Thank you, I will keep that in mind. It is great to be here, and this is truly an amazing venue to discuss torah. It is amazing how technology is adding to even the holiest of ventures. – ALK Apr 24 '12 at 4:08
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The Shulchan Aruch rules (OC 74:6):

היתה טליתו חגורה על מתניו לכסותו ממתניו ולמטה, אע"פ שממתניו ולמעלה הוא ערום, מותר לקרות ק"ש
If his clothing was tied around his waist to cover from his waist downward, even if above there he is naked, he may read the Shema.

The operating principle here is twofold:

  • One's erva must be covered.
  • One's heart must not be able to see one's erva (were it to have eyes).

Thus, one could not wear a t-shirt and put a bag on his head, as this would violate the first principle. Additionally, one could not wear just a toga as this would violate the second principle.

Assuming then that your boxers are snug with your waist (usually due to elastic) such that your heart cannot see downwards, then you may recite the Shema and all other blessings (with the exception of Shmoneh Esrei for which you must look like you are approaching a king, ie with clothing on.)

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Great answer, thank you! – ALK Apr 24 '12 at 3:40
Could you clarify what you mean by "One's heart must not be able to see one's erva"? Hearts, of course don't see. What do you mean? – msh210 Apr 24 '12 at 3:49
@msh210 Done. ||| – Double AA Apr 24 '12 at 3:52
@DoubleAA, kinda. Your meaning is still opaque to me. (More precisely, it would be, had I not come across the concept before.) Your heart, had it eyes, would not see far, as it's very dark inside you and your lungs and other body parts would block its view anyway. Why not say precisely what you mean? – msh210 Apr 26 '12 at 0:29
Not sure kriat shma is a proof to brachot, e.g.: hebrewbooks.org/… – Loewian Jul 9 '15 at 21:29

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