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How do we define the bracha of Asher Yatzar?

Is it to be viewed as a bircas hashevach as the whole blessing praises Hashem's creation of the human body and the capacity to relieve oneself

Or, is it more correct to deem the bracha as a bircas hane'enin as one is clearly benefitting from the process of relieving themselves?

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    למאי נפקא מינה? – Joel K Aug 12 '20 at 10:33
  • @JoelK See my answer below: the nafka minas are being motzi one's friend and needing to stand for the berocho. – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 12 '20 at 10:36
  • @AvrohomYitzchok Those nafka minah assume there are exactly two categories of blessings with distinct rules and we need to find where this and every blessing belongs. Alternatively, and probably more reasonably, every blessing has its own rules and we conveniently group large chunks of similarly themed blessings into rough categories for non-fundamental reasons. Why would anyone think the categories of Shevach and Nehenin are "real" and not just frequently convenient descriptive approximations? – Double AA Aug 12 '20 at 12:31
  • @Double AA The question assumes that these categories exist. What is he asking otherwise? – H. Eugene Walters Aug 12 '20 at 13:06
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Wikipedia classifies it as the first of the ברכות השבח. The list is:

אשר יצר • ברכת אלוהי נשמה • ברכות השחר • ברכת החמה • ברכת הלבנה • ברכת משנה הבריות • ברכת האילנות • ברכת הגומל • הטוב והמיטיב • ברכת הנסים • שהחיינו

Breslevmeir.com describes the berocho as:

ברכת אשר יצר היא ברכת הודאה ושבח להשם יתברך,על החכמה הנפלאה בבריאת גופו של האדם.כי מכונה נפלאה זו של הגוף והנפש עובדות רק בעזרת השם יתברך

The blessing is a blessing of acknowledgement and praise to G-d, may He be blessed, for the wonderful wisdom in the creation of the body of man.

Your question is treated halachically by הרב יצחק בן יוסף atYeshiva.org.il which writes:

בנוגע להוצאה ידי חובה, השאלה תלויה בדיון בין הפוסקים: האם ברכת "אשר יצר" מוגדרת בקטגוריית ברכת השבח לבורא או ברכת הנהנין? אם ברכת "אשר יצר" נחשבת ברכת השבח, יכול אדם לברך ולהוציא את חברו ידי חובה. לעומת זאת אם הברכה נחשבת לברכת הנהנין אינו יכול להוציא את חברו. לדיון זה יש השלכה נוספת: האם צריך לברך ברכה זו בעמידה? אם היא ברכת הנהנין מותר לברך בישיבה, ואם היא ברכת השבח צריך לברך בעמידה. למעשה פוסקים בכל אחת מהשאלות לחומרה: המברך אינו יכול להוציא את חברו בברכתו, ויש לברך בעמידה.

Regarding the obligation to bless, the question depends on the discussion between the Poskim: Is the blessing "אשר יצר" defined as a blessing of praise to the Creator or as a blessing of enjoyment?

If the blessing of "who created" is considered the blessing of praise, a person can bless and acquit his friend of his duty. On the other hand if the blessing is a blessing of enjoyment he cannot acquit his friend.

This discussion has another implication: Should this blessing be greeted standing up? If it is a blessing of enjoyment it can be said sitting, and if it is a blessing of praise it should be said standing.

In fact, each of the questions is decided strictly: one cannot acquit his friend and one must say it standing.

In summary, at first sight (Wikipedia and Breslevmeir.com) it seems to be a blessing of praise. But it is treated halachically as having both the characteristics of a blessing of praise (must be said standing) and the characteristics of a blessing of enjoyment (cannot acquit his friend).

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  • The list you bring from Wikipedia is unlikely to be exhaustive. It’s missing a number of the ברכות הראייה – Joel K Aug 12 '20 at 10:42
  • It is not a definitive that one stands for bircas hashevach. Whilst Rav Moshe Sternbach in his Teshuvos V'hanhagos (cheileik 3) siman 76 say "שברכת השבח ראוי לכתחילה לברך מעומד" - the Pri Megadim in his intro to Hilchos Brachos writes in ois 18 that if one wants to sit for Birchas Hashevach one can. IIRC there are a couple more who say you can sit but I can't remember of hand who they are – Dov Aug 12 '20 at 12:56
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So after researching a bit - I came across this from Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz here.

It would seem that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l raises my question. It brings in the sefer Siach Halocho, siman 6, se'if koton 4 that Rav Shlomo Zalman draws the conclusion that the nafka minah like @AvrohomYitzchok says, is whether one can be motzi his friend.

There appear to be two diametrically opposed proofs.

PROOF 1: In Mishnah Berurah 6:10 it says that if a shaliach tzibbur starts bircas hashachar and then he realises that he has already said it at home (including saying asher yatzar) and he hasn't been to the bathroom since - he can get someone else to say asher yatzer on his and the tzibbur's behalf. However the notion of having someone else saying for another person does not work for bircas hane'enin, e.g. if a person wants to eat an apple and his friend doesn't. That friend cannot say the borei pri ha'etz on the first person's behalf. However, with bircas hashevach this would work and so this would lead us to believe that Asher Yatzar is indeed a bircas hashevach.

However, proof 1 would only ring true for the first asher yatzar of the day, but what about the subsequent ones - does it then turn into bircas hane'enin?

PROOF 2: If a person didn't say asher yatzar and then when he remembers he then need to go again, the halacha is that you don't say a new bracha. If we say it is a bircas hashevach then this doesn't work as in the same way one thanks Hashem once, he then thanks Hashem again. But if it is a bircas hane'enin then the benefit went away because the person needs to go to the bathroom again, and therefore the one bircas hane'enin is going to be motzi both of them.

So it would seem that it is not clear cut.

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