Last week, we explained the objective of Elul is to achieve Ani l’Dodi, a closeness to my Beloved, namely to Hashem. We also suggested that a great way to acquire dveikus, attachment to Hashem, is to make meaningfully one hundred blessings every day. Finally, we cited the Bach which was elaborated on by Rav Pincus, zt”l, zy”a, that a powerful protection from the malach hamaves, the angel of death, as instituted by Dovid HaMelech, is the proper fulfillment of one hundred blessings daily. In this article, I would like to share with my dear readership the nuts and bolts of how to reach the goal of one hundred blessings.
During the week, for men at least, this milestone is easily attainable. We start with the three Shemoneh Esreis, each having 19 blessings, giving us a total of 57 brachos. We are already more than halfway there. Then, we have the blessings of al netilas yadai’im, asher yatzar and Elokai neshama which are three; then another three blessings of birkas haTorah, one blessing on tzitzis and two on tefillin, the 15 brachos of birkas hashachar, the two brachos of Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach, and the seven blessings before and after Krias Shema in the morning and the evening. Together, these equal 34, giving us the total of 91, the numerical value of amein.
The Steipler Gaon says that the average person goes to the lavatory around every three hours. Even for a young person, that’s another four blessings, bringing us to 95. If we eat bread once, that’s six blessings, comprised of al netilas yadai’im, hamotzi and the four blessings in bentching, taking us over the top to 101. This is besides the rest of the day when we make shehakols, borei nefashos, mezonos and al hamichye. And it doesn’t include the birchas hamapil. So, as I mentioned, during the week it’s a piece of cake (pun intended!) to reach our important goal.
Shabbos, however, is an entirely different story. We have four Shemoneh Esreis including mussaf, but they have only seven blessings each, giving us a total of 28 instead of 57. We do bentch three times, so that’s another 18, coming to a total of 46. We have two brachos of Kiddush in the night and one during the day. We have one blessing on the tallis katan, another on the tallis gadol, al netilas yadai’im, asher yaztar, and Elokai neshama which make another five. The three of birkas haTorah, 15 of birkas hashachar, two of Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach, and seven associated with Krias Shema. That’s another 35 bringing us to 81. So we are now short 19 blessings!
The Mishna Berurah writes that if we answer with concentration amein to the blessings before and after the Torah of each of the aliyas and of the birkas haftorah, this is considered like making a blessing, bringing us to our goal. Others say that the baruch Elokeinu, baruch adoneinu, baruch malkienu and baruch moshi’einu that we say in Ein Kelokeinu also count towards the one hundred blessings. Yet, great people like Rav Chaim Kanievsky and the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, zy”a, tried to reach the coveted objective of one hundred actual blessings and they would run an active count in their minds to accomplish the blessings that they needed.
Here are some ideas. During Kiddush Friday night, many people make a borei minei bisomim on hadassim which adds a blessing. After the meal, a person could snack on a few rugelach, a sip of tea, and a piece of fruit, adding another five blessings – a mezonos, a ha’eitz, a shehakol, al hamichya, and borei nefashos. Then, there is the bracha of hamapil. A coffee and a slice of cake to enable one to daven better in the morning adds another four blessings. Rav Klonimus recommends making a Kiddush before the lunch with some kichel and herring. This adds another four blessings. If you take a nap in the afternoon and then change your tallis katan upon arising, you have another blessing. Before leaving to mincha, take another snack. Perhaps a drink, some grapes and some peanuts or popcorn, adding another five blessings, ha’eitz, ha’adama, shehakol, al ha’eitz and borei nefashos. Now, let’s count the yield of our efforts. That brings us to 21 added to our 81 taking us to 102 and a great accomplishment. If we are short, we could always smell the besomin once or twice during the day as long as there is a sizable interval between the times.
It’s a great feeling to know that we’ve strived to reach this prized closeness to Hashem and spiritual protection.
On Yom Kippur when we can’t eat, it is not possible to get to 100. I once asked Rav Moshe, zt”l, zy”a, when I brought him besomim to smell during this holiest of days, “Since we can’t reach one hundred, is there any reason to attempt to get as close as possible through the smelling of the besomim?” He answered me in the affirmative. I extrapolated from this that women who don’t say three Shemoneh Esreis every day and therefore fall short of one hundred blessings should still try to get as close as possible to the one hundred blessing milestone.
It’s also interesting that the gedolei Yisrael of Eretz Yisrael, such as Rav Cham Kanievsky, wanted women to say three Shemoneh Esreis each day, while Rav Eliyashev said it was praiseworthy for them to do so, perhaps so that they too should achieve the one hundred blessing protection. We should also note that even if we get to one hundred, we still have to work hard on them being meaningful blessings and not just mechanical, mindless mutterings.
In the merit of our renewed attempt at one hundred meaningful daily blessings, may Hashem protect us and bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Transcribed and edited by Shelley Zeitlin.