In the morning blessings, we thank G-d for various things. We thank Him for "opening the eyes" (poke'ach ivrim), "releasing the bound" (matir asurim), "straightening the bent" (zokef k'fufim), etc.

However, the first of these blessings doesn't really match the rest:

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, הנותן (נ''א אשר נתן) לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who gives (also: "who gave") the rooster understanding to differientiate between day and night.

Why do we thank G-d for this? It doesn't matter to me whether the rooster knows the difference or not. I have an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. People haven't used roosters to wake them up for many, many years.

But yet this blessing can't be obsolete. I have often wondered if there was a deeper meaning to this blessing.

I learned that שכוי (sechvi) can mean "heart" (from the ArtScroll Siddur).1 If you translate "day" and "night" metaphorically to mean good and evil (day is light; night is dark), then the blessing gets way more meaningful (to me):

Blessed are You... who gives the heart understanding to differientiate between light and dark (good and evil).

Is this a proper understanding of this blessing? I'd like to know what real Torah sources think about this.

1. It's not strange that a word meaning "rooster" can also relate to mankind. גבר (g'var) means both "man" and "rooster".

  • You having an alarm clock isn't that different from a blind person who still says Pokeiach Ivrim. Oter Yisrael BeTifara is said on wrapping your head in a turban, and most Jews haven't done that in centuries.
    – Double AA
    Feb 15, 2018 at 16:45
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    Yes, they were. (At least that's the pshat of the gemara כי שמע קול תרנגולא לימא ברוך אשר נתן לשכוי בינה )
    – Double AA
    Feb 15, 2018 at 16:52
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    It's interesting that of all the birds, the Gemara chose the rooster. I believe that the rooster crows as one of the latest of all the birds. Why didn't they choose a crow or a cardinal?
    – DanF
    Feb 15, 2018 at 17:26
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    I wonder if it could be understood more plainly as thanking hashem for nature running.
    – mroll
    Feb 15, 2018 at 19:15
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    Rabbi Kaplan (here 21 mins and on) develops an understanding based on the "good and evil" idea. Feb 15, 2018 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


I can't remember where I read it, or I would edit it in, but someone interpretated this as "rooster-sense" (analogous to horse-sense). In other words, just like the rooster has the sense to wake up and announce the new day, G-d has given us rooster-sense to know the difference between night and day and to wake up and praise Him.

  • Even without a source, still a great chiddush, IMHO. +1
    – ezra
    Feb 22, 2018 at 4:55

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