Friday, February 24, 2012

Terumah 5632 Third Ma'amar

Chazal[1] teach us that we are required to say one hundred brachos each day.  Furthermore, Chazal[2] teach us that we may partake of the pleasures of this world only after reciting the appropriate bracha.  What is the significance of brachos?  What is so important about brachos?

We can gain understanding from the pesukim whence Chazal learn we must recite a bracha before partaking of this world.  According to one pasuk, "... לה' הארץ ומלואה .../… The earth and its contents are God's …" (Tehillim 24:1)  According to another pasuk, "... הארץ נתן לבני אדם/… He gave the earth to the children of Adam." (Tehillim 115:16)  Chazal reconcile these contradicting pesukim.  The first pasuk is true before we recite a bracha.  The second applies afterwards.  From these pesukim we see that the bracha is our acknowledgement that the earth and all its contents are God's.  Only after this acknowledgement may we partake of it.

The Chiddushei HaRim takes this idea further and teaches that the very purpose of the Creation is to recognize that everything in it is from God – to reveal Him within it – and to thus subordinate ourselves to Him.  This explains Chazal's[3] statement that eating without reciting a bracha is akin to מעילה – making inappropriate personal use of kodashim.  If a person brings an animal as a peace offering, he may eat the meat of the animal only following the mitzvah of throwing its blood on the wall of the altar.  Eating of the meat beforehand is a serious transgression – מעילה.

Not only kodashim but all food has a mitzvah that must be performed before partaking of it.  That mitzvah is reciting a bracha, acknowledging that the food we eat is from God, making the connection between the physical food and its spiritual source.  Furthermore, since we may partake of the food only upon making this connection, it is through this connection that bracha is drawn into this world and to us.  The brachos that we recite, then, are the foundation for drawing bracha into the physical world.

The Chiddushei HaRim therefore said that the one hundred brachos that we are required to say each day are associated with the one hundred silver sockets – אדנים – that were the base for the beams of the Mishkan.[4]  The silver sockets were the foundation of the Mishkan and brachos are the foundation of bracha in the physical world.

Further on the concept of subordination to God through the recitation of brachos, Chazal learn of the requirement to recite one hundred brachos each day from the pasuk, "מה ה' שואל מעמך .../What does God ask of you …" (Devarim 10:12)  In a play on the word מה/what, Chazal read this as, "מאה ה' שואל מעמך/God asks one hundred of you."  This seems somewhat arbitrary however the Sfas Emes explains the connection between the word מה/what, and reciting brachos.  As we've said, the purpose of reciting brachos is to acknowledge God's rule over the physical world, thus, subordinating ourselves to Him.  The word מה/what, brings to mind subordination as in, "What are we?"  The pasuk could thus be understood as, "God asks us to subordinate ourselves."  Appropriately, Chazal learn the requirement for one hundred brachos from this pasuk.

May we merit having the proper intent as we recite brachos during the day, drawing bracha into the world and onto ourselves.  Amen.

[1] Menachos 43b
[2] Brachos 35a
[3] Ibid.
[4] The source is Sha'arei Ora, Shaar Rishon, of the medieval Kabbalist Rav Yosef Gikatilla.  See there for an extensive and fascinating discussion of brachos and their connection with the name of God – aleph, dalet, nun, yod.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The brachos that we recite...are
the foundation for drawing bracha into the physical world"

how is it that so fundamental a mechanism is only d'rabbanan
rather than d'oraysa?