Who doesn’t want blessing in life – real, constant berachah?
Well, engendering it is easier than you think. Our day is enveloped by “berachah.” Don’t we recite blessings before enjoying the beauty and bounty Hashem showers us with – aromas, blossoming trees, thunder and lightning? If we don’t feel encompassed by blessing, perhaps we should pay more attention to the blessings we utter. They have reflective power.
But habit inures us. We have become so accustomed to rattle off berachos that we don’t let them penetrate. Before we start, it’s over.
Two weeks ago, in Parshas Ki Savo, we read about the viduy maasros in which a person says: “lo avarti mimizvosecha velo shachachti – I did not transgress Your mitzvos nor did I forget.” Forget what? Rashi explains: “I didn’t neglect to utter a blessing.”
Standing on the verge of Yom Kippur, can we say “velo shochachti“? Can we say that we didn’t forget to recite a blessing before and after each meal – each time we snacked, bit into an apple, and took a drink? How often have we skipped the precious berachah of “Asher Yatzar,” thanking Hashem for our healthy bodies that function so miraculously?
According to the Sfas Emes of Gur, “velo shochachti” not only calls on us to be vigilant to say berachos. It pierces deeper, forcing us to recall how often during the year we wonder – even seconds later – whether we said a berachah or not. How often, for example, do we find ourselves wondering, “Did I bentch”? Can we affirm “velo shochachti” – that we’re certain we said a blessing?
We want blessing in our lives, but we don’t take the time to say our berachos distinctly, paying attention to what we say. “Shehakol nihiyo bidvaro – Everything comes into existence through His word.” Shouldn’t these words be said with a drop of concentration? Shouldn’t we spend an additional two seconds thinking about the meaning of these words and create new spheres of inspiration?
Every 28 years on a Wednesday in Nissan, the sun reaches the exact same position where Hashem placed it when He created the world. We capture this moment by saying a berachah. Preparations for this “historical event” are beyond description. People crowd in great throngs to say it together. The newspapers are filled with ads of gathering to join. Buses run the length of the night enabling people to reach their chosen destination. At the Kosel 10 years ago – when this blessing was last said – some 100,000 people were present in the early morning.
People are almost in a trance at the designated moment as they utter with passion the berachah, “Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam oseh maasi bereishis.” Yet, that exact same berachah is said when a storm breaks out and lightning strikes! Why do we rattle it off then without giving it a second thought? Furthermore, shouldn’t all berachos be recited with the same kavanah and seen as an opportunity to generate more blessing?
To upgrade the quality of our blessings, I suggest adopting two practices. One is saying blessings aloud. In the same section of Ki Savo I quoted earlier, the word “v’amarta – and you should say” appears. Rashi comments: “aloud.” Clearly, it is no coincidence that the very paragraph discussing blessing and forgetfulness contains an allusion to say blessings aloud.
The second recommended practice is one that Rav Shach once adopted before Tishrei: He told one of his followers that he had undertaken to always bentch from a siddur or bentcher.
My husband once had the merit to spend a week in Montreal with the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal, zt”l. Before every berachah, my husband reported, the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva opened a siddur, never saying even the shortest blessing by heart.
May responding to this invitation to say berachos with greater concentration elicit a gmar chasima tova from Hashem for all of us!