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The Gemoro in Brachos 60b writes that it used to be the practise that as a person woke up, at each stage of him getting ready for the day, he said the relevant bracho.

Upon hearing the sound of the rooster, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לַשֶּׂכְוִי בִּינָה לְהַבְחִין בֵּין יוֹם וּבֵין לָיְלָה״ - Blessed…Who gave the heart understanding to distinguish between day and night. Upon opening his eyes, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…פּוֹקֵחַ עִוְּרִים״ - Blessed…Who gives sight to the blind. Upon sitting up straight, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים״ - Blessed…Who sets captives free. Upon dressing, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…מַלְבִּישׁ עֲרוּמִּים״ - Blessed…Who clothes the naked, as they would sleep unclothed. Upon standing up straight, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…זוֹקֵף כְּפוּפִים״ - Blessed…Who raises those bowed down. Upon descending from one’s bed to the ground, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…רוֹקַע הָאָרֶץ עַל הַמָּיִם״ - Blessed…Who spreads the earth above the waters. Upon walking, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…הַמֵּכִין מִצְעֲדֵי גָבֶר״ - Blessed…Who makes firm the steps of man. Upon putting on his shoes, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…הַמֵּכִין מִצְעֲדֵי גָבֶר״ - Blessed…Who has provided me with all I need. Upon putting on his belt, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…אוֹזֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּגְבוּרָה״ - Blessed…Who girds Israel with strength. Upon spreading a shawl upon his head, one should recite: ״בָּרוּךְ…עוֹטֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתִפְאָרָה״ - Blessed…Who crowns Israel with glory.

Nowadays the custom has changed and we say them consecutively in shul (shulchan aruch 46:2)

All these brachos seem to make sense sequentially as far as the order of the day, but how are we to understand the bracho of רוֹקַע הָאָרֶץ עַל הַמָּיִם - Who spreads the earth above the waters? This is said upon descending from one's bed and placing one's feet on the ground.

  1. Are there any seforim / sources that speak about this choice of expression. The other brachos are pretty straightforward - why the poetic license here? How are we to understand it?

  2. And why do we need a standalone bracho just for putting our feet on the ground why wouldn't the next bracho ״בָּרוּךְ…הַמֵּכִין מִצְעֲדֵי גָבֶר״ - Blessed…Who makes firm the steps of man suffice for this stage of the process?

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  • Partially related - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/89155/… but no clear answer – Dov Oct 17 '20 at 19:16
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    See tehillim 136:6 – Joel K Oct 17 '20 at 19:36
  • Thanks @JoelK that would indeed point to the adoption of the expression but I am still left with my questions? – Dov Oct 17 '20 at 19:39
  • It partially answers question 1, in that chazal here used poetic language following the pasuk, but I agree your questions still stand – Joel K Oct 17 '20 at 19:42
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When Hashem spread the water over the earth, it also had the effect of establishing boundaries between the earth and the water. As it says in the first few verses (Genesis 1:2,6-7,9),

וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃

ווַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יְהִ֥י רָקִ֖יעַ בְּת֣וֹךְ הַמָּ֑יִם וִיהִ֣י מַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין מַ֖יִם לָמָֽיִם׃ ז וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֙יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

טוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶל־מָק֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

  1. And the earth was void...and the spirit of G-d hovered over the waters... 6) And G-d said let there be a separation between the waters. 7) And He made the separation and he separated between the waters above and the waters below. 9) And G-d said let the waters below the heavens be gathered in to one place, and let the dry land be visible, and it was so.

In the beginning, the earth is covered with water; no dry land is to be found. Over the course of a couple of days of creation, the waters are separated and established into designated areas in order to create dry land. (I'm specifically avoiding any discussion of how this fits with science, and of how to best translate the phrases, since it's irrelevant for the purpose of this answer.)

This process of designating areas for the water and thus establishing terra firma is being praised in tehillim 136:6. This phraseology is what the rabbis used when creating the blessing thanking Hashem for having solid ground upon which to step.

This is a different bracha than המכין מצעדי גבר "He prepares the steps of man" which really refers to a person's ability to walk (both physically, as well as metaphorically a man's forward progression). This blessing comes before, since having solid ground upon which to step is a separate praise from actually walking upon such ground.

This is similar to other brochos in the set; like sitting up straight coming before the ability to straighten one's body all the way, or the praise for having clothes preceding the praise of having shoes, a belt and a head covering.

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    +1 - Shkoiyach! – Dov Oct 18 '20 at 17:37
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The blessing fits the ancient worldviews but disagrees with the current knowledge. There must be some metaphorical meaning, though.

Source: https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/gre13.htm

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  • +1 interesting thanks! – Dov Oct 18 '20 at 20:32

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