Monday, November 15, 2004

Blessings

I heard an excellent lecture reviewing the episodes of Bracha(blessings) that occur in Bereshit up until this parsha. There are 12 instances of blessing. In the first few, God blesses humans with blessings of physical achievment- peru u'revu(be fruitful), achieve mastery over the world. Then humans get into the act, and the first one is Malkitzedek, who blesses Avraham, but when read carefully, it is a blessing of praise for God. Anyone who attended a decent day school(I did not), knows that there are three types of blessings: shevach(praise), hoda'aa(thanksgiving), and bakasha(request). There follows instances of blessings of thanksgiving, and finally, in Toldot, we have Yitzchak blessing Ya'akov: v'yiten lecha(and he will give to you), a blessing asking God to provide things to Ya'akov, a blessing of bakasha.

He then reviewed the purpose of blessings in general. Shevach- God does not need our praise, He does not need us to tell Him that He raises up the bent over, garbs the needy, and so forth. These berachot are there to remind us that just as God does these acts , so too we must imitate God and do these things. It is a call to action.

Berachot of Bakasha, which fill the Shmonei Esrai, remind us that we are not complete, even though we may think that we are. They remind us of our shortcomings, and the list of things that we need, and need to work on.

The only Bracha that is specifically mandated in the Torah, Birkat Hamazon, incorporates these three types of Berachot, and in the order in which they first appear in Berashit. Hazan et hacol(shevach), Nodeh lecha and al ha'aretz v'al hamazon(hoda'aa), and rachem(bakasha).

All in all a very excellent lecture, taking elements that should be well known, and putting it into a framework that hopefully will help with kavvanah and devekut.

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