I’ve got a few questions. Any answers, half-answers, comments on a similar theme, etc are welcome in the comments.
1. When did morning blessings get moved into communal prayer?
I know that the bulk of Birchot Hashachar was once–some of it still is–said in the home as one performed a variety of daily actions. So at what point and with what motivation did it get moved into the service and out of the home?
2. Is there any support for saying “…al netilat yadayim” when washing one’s hands for sanitary, rather than ritual purposes?
Surely some have argued that a reason for ritual hand washing is rudimentary sanitation. I know it’s been said that the relative health of Jews during the Black Plague can be attributed to regular hand washing. I’m wondering if there’s any support for using the same brachah when washing one’s hand from a sink–meaning, without pouring water over your hands from a cup–with soap.
3. Is there anyone out there thinking about new blessings or new applications of extant blessings for elements of the modern daily routine?
I’m thinking about taking daily medications, showering, brushing teeth etc.
Thoughts, anyone? Answers? Tangents?