I have a question on the Asher Yatzar text which is either really stupid or really smart. So the text goes וברא בו נקבים נקבים חלולים חלילים and we interpret Nekavim to mean holes of some sort, and Chalulim to mean veins or organs, aka solid things. So the bracha says “holes and solid things”. But then later in the bracha it says שאם יפתח אחד מהם או יסתם אחד מהם, where it mentions “if one of them OPEN or one of them CLOSE.” Obviously the opening would be referring to the Chalulim, the solid things, while the closing would refer to the holes. So why doesn’t the line say closing before opening so that it would line up with “holes and organs.” In other words, first the holes are mentioned and then the organs are. So I’d figure that the text would be balanced and later in the bracha, it should mention closing first, to match up with the holes, and then opening after. Anyone have any idea why?

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    חלולים means hollow things (such as veins, sure, but also things like the stomach and intestines), not solid ones. Anyway, it's common enough in Tanach, Mishnah, etc., to use a chiastic structure, A-B then B-A. (And there are nuschaos where יסתם indeed precedes יפתח.)
    – Meir
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 23:41
  • @Meir ahhh I see. I’ve thought that it was common to write A-B then A-B but I guess not. Thank you! Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


Both nekavim and chalulim can be open or closed. I understand the phrase שאם יפתח אחד מהם או יסתם אחד מהם to mean that if they would be open or closed at the incorrect time, i.e. open when they should be closed or vice versa, we wouldn't be able to survive.

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