I’ve been thinking about blessings lately. This is mostly because I’m helping a kid prepare for his Bar Mitzvah, and I asked him to think about what it means for humans to bless God. What does God need with my blessing? After all, aren’t we the ones who are in need of being blessed? (I sure could use a blessing or two.)
My daughter Ellie is an exceptionally empathetic person. She is also gracious and appreciative. A small example: Without fail, she thanks me for every single meal I prepare for her. Even if I bought it at Subway, or merely heated up a frozen dinner.
I don’t need her to thank me every time, but I do appreciate it. And I think that’s what’s behind all these blessings. Pure and simple gratitude.
Judaism is chock-full of blessings. As Rabbi Fred Dobb puts it, “We’ve got blessings for seeing heads of state, Torah scholars, and ugly people. Blessings over sunsets, meteors, rainbows, reunions, and bad news. Blessings for bread and baked goods and fruit and vegetables, all different. In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir suggests reciting 100 blessings each day… one every ten minutes of our waking lives. In other words, Jews should be constantly aware of the world around us, and should respond through gratitude and prayer.”
A few years ago I was the Jewish educator at a JCC day camp, and when I told the kids that we’re expected to say 100 blessings a day, they were shocked. How could anyone come up with so many things to bless? So I sent them on a blessing hunt. Each group was armed with pen and paper, and told to write down everything they saw that they considered worthy of blessing.
Not one group came back with fewer than a hundred blessings. Several reached 150. (The J’s receptionist, Miss Sandy, was on every list. Which made her feel great.)
So my advice for this week – bless away. It feels great.