Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Once we pass Tu b’Av, the next stop is Elul. Elul is an acronym for, “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi li,” I am to my Beloved (namely Hashem) and, in that proportion, Hashem reciprocates with special attention to me. I want to share with you a great way to start practicing how to get close to Hashem.

The posuk tells us, “Mah Hashem Elokecha sho’el mei’imach, ki im l’yirah – What does Hashem ask from you but that you should fear Him.” Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, zy”a, interprets this to mean to be aware of Him. The Gemara in Masechtas Menachos [43] teaches, “Al tikrei mah; ela mei’ah – Do not read it as ‘what;’ rather as one hundred.” It refers to the one hundred blessings that a person says every day. For, if a person blesses Hashem throughout the day one hundred times, he will become acutely aware of Hashem. Tosafos points out that the word mah, using the gematria of a”t ba”sh (where mem equals yud and hei equals tzadi ) equals 100.


The Otzer Hapla’os wonders why this teaching was not taught to us in Masechtas Berachos which is all about the blessings. Instead, the Chachmei Chazal waited all the way until Menachos, which is about korbonos, to teach us this all-important lesson about blessings. He answers with a lesson from the Rokei’ach and the Shach on the Torah that if someone says one hundred blessings every day, it is considered as if he brought a korban, a sacrifice. Thus, it is taught to us among the other laws of korbonos. The root of korban is kareiv, to come close. Thus, these hundred blessings help us to get close to Hashem.

It’s really very simple to understand why this is. Rav Miller explains that there used to be a clown with a big red nose called Bozo. If you would say Bozo one hundred times a day, by the night you would be dreaming about Bozo. In a similar vein, when you bless Hashem meaningfully one hundred times throughout the day, you slowly develop a close relationship with the One above.

The Tur, when he poskins that one should say one hundred blessing each day, cites as a source, that there was an epidemic during the reign of Dovid HaMelech. His subjects informed him that one hundred people each day were dying from the ravages of the plague. Dovid HaMelech then instituted saying one hundred blessings daily and the people stopped dying.

The Bach, zt”l, zy”a, one of the great commentaries on the Tur, notes that it is not the usual custom for the Tur to give sources for his rulings. He wonders why the Tur deviates here and gives us the historical source of Dovid HaMelech. He answers that it is to teach us that Dovid’s protections were for all generations, that if there is a danger like an epidemic such as a coronavirus, G-d forbid, saying one hundred blessings with special attention can serve as a protection.

Rav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, zy”a, elaborates that in a time of danger when the angel of death is given free reign, there is no time to get our act together and repent over our many sins. We need to do something that causes us to be considered close friends with Hashem for then, he instructs the angel of death to stay away from his inner circle.

We do just this when we make one hundred blessings daily, providing that we do so meaningfully. The Pele Yoetz warns us that if we make our blessings mechanically and without thought, “Ein zeh mevoreich, ela mena’eitz,” this is not considered a blessing but, on the contrary, angers Hashem. The Yesod v’Shoresh haAvodah says even more: A thoughtless blessing borders on the negative prohibition of, “Lo sisa sheim Hashem Elokecha lashav,” to take Hashem’s Name in vain.

We know that the Magen David, the shield and emblem of Dovid HaMelech is the six-sided star. The simple idea of this star is that the six sides represent Hashem Who is above, below, and in the four directions. Thus, the emblem of Dovid was that we do not go to battle confident in our own might and strategic prowess; rather, we proceed with trust in the One above. As Dovid HaMelech says, “Eileh varechev v’eileh vasusim, va’anachnu b’Sheim Hashen Elokeinu nazkir – These (nations) go with chariots and these go with horses, but we do battle with the Name of Hashem.”

I’d like to suggest another symbolism of the famous Magen David. The gematria of the word magen is 93. Together with the six sides, this makes 99. The body of the star is one more which makes a total of one hundred. Thus, it alludes to the Shield of David, the one hundred blessings that cause us to be considered Hashem’s inner circle and therefore we become shielded with the cloak of divine protections.

If you might wonder what the body of the star represents, Rav Yisroel Salanter famously said when you are busy appointing Hashem above, below, and in the four directions, don’t forget to appoint him boss over yourself as well. (The idea of counting the body of the star is not my own. In Sifrei Kabbalah, the Star of David is said to symbolize the seven sefiros, with the body of the star representing the sefira of yesod.)

So, whether we are saying Baruch Atah Hashem, Shehakol nihiyeh bidvaro, Baruch Atah Hashem, Shelo asani aved, or Baruch Atah Hashem, Mekadeish haShabbos, let’s give a little extra attention to these blessings of Hashem. With this extra kavanah, we will be greatly increasing our Ani l’Dodi, our closeness to Hashem our Beloved for this upcoming Elul season. This will certainly promise us a better chance for long life, good health, and everything wonderful.


Transcribed and edited by Shelley Zeitlin.


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