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Join date : 2011-12-28

PostSubject: Blessings   Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:47 am

I have been looking through my old siddur(sim shalom) and noticed something about the blessings. They usually go through the formula of "blessed are you______who_____"

So would it be incorrect to say the Jewish relationship with hashem is one of give and take in the way you bless him by acknoledging what he has blessed you with?

Or is it I am still a bit confused on instead of saying "thank you for__" its said "blessed are you"
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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:38 pm

I don't see the blessings as being indicative of a 'give/take' relationship; rather just a reminder that I should be thankful for things in life, and part of being thankful for these things and moments is thanking God.

On a broader scale though, I suppose the covenant between God and the Jewish people is somewhat of a give/take relationship. God chooses the Jewish people as his nation, and in return we follow the mitzvot etc. Interested on other people's thoughts on this one..
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Debbie B.


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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:40 am

My husband says that the root of the Hebrew word בָּרוּךְ ("baruch") means "knee", so the word usually translated as "blessed" seems to be related to worship on bended knees. And I guess that is one reason why Jews traditionally bend their knees (and then bow) when saying this word in the first blessing of the Amidah.

It is interesting that the same word is used when God blesses a person (see for example Genesis 12:3 that we use in standard blessings (see for example several of the Shabbat evening blessings: Shabbat home ritual) which sounds like we are blessing God. It's not exactly symmetrical, of course, but the use of the same word does tie the different cases together.

I am on a mailing list for "Morethdoxy" and received this article about "blessings" in my email box today:
What’s in a beracha (blessing)- by Rabbi Hyim Shafner
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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:12 pm

In the Modeh Ani prayer one says when we wake up, there's a line, "rabah emunatecha" which means "Great is YOUR faith". It's interesting that here we are praising G-d for G-d's faithfulness, so I can see what you mean by give and take.
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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:04 pm

I never read it as "blessed" but as "blesséd". You are not blessing God, but acknowledging that He is, himself, a blesséd entity (read: holy)--just as Catholics don't refer to the blessed Virgin Mary but the blesséd Virgin Mary.

The words are actually spelled the same, although they are pronounced differently and have slightly different meanings. Bless(ed) is a verb, an action; you bless something. Blesséd is an adjective, a state of being; you are blesséd.

This website also has a good interpretation, mentioning other ways the word is used:
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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:15 am

Hebrew prayer has literal (keva) and figurative (kavanah) aspects to it, and both are equally important. Taken literally, the actual wording of the brachot can be confusing or archaic. Following the letter of the law regarding their recitation and understanding them literally is fine. We do acknowledge God as our God and the Deity of all creation, and that the commandments enrich our lives. Totally cool and meaningful on the face of it.

When you go beyond the letter of the law and bring yourself emotionally or creatively to prayer, that's kavanah. In terms of kavanah, the brachot for me are an expression of gratitude--an acknowledgment of God's glory and God's presence in our (singular and communal) lives. Kind of like saying, "I know you know this, but it's important for me to tell you anyway, every chance I get, I know how much you do for me, and I'm grateful." This flashes through my head every time I eat thanks to the food blessings.

So essentially, the brachot can be what you make of them--and what you bring of yourself to them.

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PostSubject: Re: Blessings   Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:38 pm

Read this today, and thought it was pertinent to the discussion:

"One of the key features of the fixed part of the berakhah is the double way God is addressed. When God is addressed as "you", implied is an intimate relationship with an individual pray-er, a relationship that is accessible and persona. When God is referred to as the "King of the universe", the perspective shifts to a vast cosmic plane over which God is the absolute ruler. ... The purpose of the berakhah is to acknowledge the primary connection between God and a phenomenon or process in the world. ... The berakhah first heightens the utterer's sensitivity to the phenomenon itself, increasing awareness of the wonder of creation. Then it bears witness to the source of the wonder; nature is not just there, but owes its existence to God. The routinizing of experience and the taking of the world for granted are the great enemies of the Siddur, and the berakhah is an instrument for keeping them at bay. This is the meaning of praise in Jewish liturgy. To praise God or to say, "Praised are You", "Blessed art THough" is not simply to release an emotional outpouring or to describe some beatific aspect of God' nature. It means making a connection between a phenomenon and its source; "praised" means "deserving to be acknowledged" for this reason. ...

From: Mintz, Alan ~ Back to the Sources, ed. Holtz, Barry W.
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