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    A blessing for the toilet – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why do we need to make a b’rachah after going to the toilet?

    Asher Yatzar toilet blessingA. The blessing is called Asher Yatzar and it praises God for giving human beings a body that works. It originates in the Talmud and is one of the most sublime of our liturgical creations.

    It starts off by praising God “Who formed man in wisdom” – an acknowledgment that it is not only the creation of the human species in general which we owe to God, but the intricate complex of parts and functions. The Tur says, “The creation of man is of wondrous wisdom”. The Midrash comments that the blessing avers that if anything goes wrong with the body, it is impossible for a human being to conduct his or her life normally.

    Rashi emphasises the concluding words which praise God “Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously” – a tribute to our God-given capacity for rehabilitation. When people take risks with their bodies they place their future in jeopardy and have no guarantee that the body will overcome the trauma they cause it.

    The Tosafot commentary on the Talmud notes that God’s wisdom was displayed in the creation of mankind, in the creation of the body and soul, and in the fact that during the first week of history man was made last to show that he is the pinnacle of creation, not only able to live, breathe and function, but with the capacity to reason things out and to articulate the Divine wisdom.

    (Part of this answer is based on Rabbi Asher Meir’s “Meaning in Mitzvot”).

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