Blessings Part II

Thursday, 3 August, 2023 - 11:58 am

Last week we began exploring the deeper meaning of the text of blessings we recite throughout the day. For a refresher see here:

This week we will continue with the next part of the text.

Melech – Literally means king. Why is Jewish mysticism obsessed with monarchy as a model for the interface between G-d and His creation? The secret lies in this phrase, “Ein Melech B’lo Am – there is no King without subjects.” “Am” which means nation or subjects, is etymologically related to Omemot – a reference to dimming coals. In other words, an “Am” is an entity whose connection to the King is dimmed, offering a perception of autonomy. Hashem desires a relationship. Within that context, He requires an “other,” an “Am,” subjects who are “seemingly” separate who can choose to connect. Which leads us to the next word in the text…

Ha’Olam – Literally means the universe. However, Olam shares an etymological root with He’elem, which means concealment. The platform in which Hashem can be a Melech and have a relationship with an Am, is by necessity an Olam, a place where the Divinity that underlies all of existence, is concealed.

So, the blessing now conveys to us that we are asking G-d to draw down from His pool of Divine flow stemming from His essence, through His transcendent self, via the aspect of Him that is personally associated with us, for the purpose of having a relationship with us so that we can reveal Divinity in a world of concealment.

Now we see how masterful our sages were in being able to tap into the richness of the Holy Tongue to convey that lengthy message in a mere six words.

But how do we accomplish this? How can we reveal Divinity in a world of concealment? This is conveyed to us in the final part of each blessing. There are three types of blessings that we say.

·       Blessings over an experience of pleasure from G-d’s world (such as food or drink).

·       Blessings of thanksgiving and praise for something that G-d did for us.

·       Blessings over Mitzvot.

The common denominator is that all three are associated with our human experience. When we bless over one of those three areas of life, we are proclaiming that all we encounter is a part of the Divine reality. The food that we eat. The world around us. The objects with which we perform Mitzvot. All of these become vehicles for us to channel Divinity into this world of concealment, thereby illuminating it with the truth that “There is Nothing Aside from Him."

Next week. G-d willing, we will explore the added phrase that is included in the blessing over Mitzvot.

I hope that these explanations have served to pique your interest, but more importantly, have infused your blessings with more meaning.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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