ח׳ בתשרי ה׳תשע״ג (September 24, 2012)

Berakhot 54a-b: Blessing God

In the final perek of Massekhet Berakhot, which begins on today’s daf, we find discussions of different types of blessings. Despite the differences between these blessings, there are fundamental issues common to all of these blessings that fuse them into a single unit.

The blessings in this chapter are neither blessings of enjoyment nor blessings over mitzvot. A significant number of them constitute the independent category of blessings of thanksgiving for God’s beneficence. In addition to the blessings of thanksgiving, there are several other blessings that do not fall into this category. Nevertheless, all those blessings share a common denominator. They all instruct us that anything that deviates from the norm obligates one to recite a blessing, be it a permanent fixture in nature, e.g., mountains and seas; natural phenomena, e.g., thunder and lightning; unique creatures; or events of extreme benevolence, e.g., miracles or tragic events. The significance of these blessings is the acknowledgement that everything in this world is the work of God. We offer thanks for His goodness and miracles and accept the tragedies and disasters.

Fundamentally, these blessings are not expressions of thanks. Rather, they are declarations of a faith-based approach that the Creator directs and supervises everything. Consequently, everything that transpires in the world should be tied to the understanding that “it is the Lord that does all these things” (Yeshayahu 45:7).

The blessings recited over unique phenomena come to underscore God’s involvement in every mundane occurrence as well. The epitome of this approach is the incorporation of God’s name into the standard greeting exchanged when people meet. Although one might consider the introduction of God’s name into routine exchanges as belittling His greatness, because of the rationale implicit in the verse: “It is time to work for the Lord; they have made void Your Torah” (Tehillim 119:126), attributing everything in the world to God was made top priority.

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