Kedoshim: Why Is Judaism Obsessed With Blessings?

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Jews recite blessings constantly: upon awakening, during prayers, before eating and afterwards. Why the obsessiveness? Can't we just do one big 'thank you' each morning?

Lesson Contents:

A. Why We Bless


In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the obligation of orlah and neta rivai, the obligation to abstain from the first three years of fruit and bring the fourth to Jerusalem (Source 1). According to Nachmanides, the purpose is to honor G-d with the first, best crops—which only grow by the third year (Source 2). In our own lives, we observe something similar: before deriving benefit from something, we thank G-d for granting it to us (Source 3).
The Talmud gives great importance to this custom, and a host of statements are declared against one who failes to acknowledge G-d’s gifts. In simple terms, the reason for this custom is that we have no permission to partake of G-d’s world—unless we acknowledge His blessings. (Source 4). Similarly, we bless G-d for granting us the commandments (Source 5).

B. The Meaning of Each Word


What exactly is the meaning of the text of the blessing? What is the message it conveys?
The Rebbe goes through each word:
Baruch channels G-d’s blessing into the world, Atah reminds us of G-d’s presence, Havayeh reminds us of His eternity, Elokeinu reminds us that He is the source of our strength, Melech Ha’olam signifies His intimate involvement, and Shehakol Nihiya Bidvaro reminds us that everything was created by Him.

C. Channeling


But why are we so obssessive about blessings?
The main point—that a blessing channels G-d’s blessing and presence to the world—is the key to understanding this issue.
It’s all about revealing G-dliness (see Source 6). Hence, the blessing is not secondary to the food; it is actually the main thing. This also explains the need for one hundred blessings per day (Source 7-8): The blessings are a purpose in and of itself, because they allow us to reveal G-d’s presence in the universe.

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