Bless Yourself ­ Article ­ BINA

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Bless Yourself

Bless Yourself

by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton

Question:

In Judaism we seem to be preoccupied with "blessing G-d" - we bless Him before and after eating, we bless Him many times in our daily prayers and we bless Him before performing His Mitzvot. I don't get the whole concept of "blessing G-d" - does He really need our blessings? Does He really need our thanks? Can G-d possibly be lacking something that He needs us mortals to bless Him with?

Answer:

You are right; G-d does not need our blessings. We need our blessings. We bless and thank G-d not because He needs it but because we need it:
 
The first of the ten plagues brought upon Egypt was the plague of blood. G-d told Moses to instruct his brother Aharon to strike the waters of the Nile and thereby turn the waters of Egypt into blood. The Biblical commentaries wonder why it was Aharon who was tasked with striking the waters; couldn't Moses have done it alone? They explain that since the Nile had provided refuge for Moses years earlier when he had been placed there as an infant, it would have shown a lack of gratitude if Moses were to strike its waters.
 
Here too we can wonder - we are talking about the waters of the Nile, a river. Does a river have feelings that it would feel offended if Moses were to strike it after it had sheltered him years earlier?
 
One of the most important human character traits is the trait of gratitude. The ability to recognize that what we have and who we are is not by chance, it has come from somewhere. To appreciate what we have been given and to never take anything for granted is a cornerstone of Judaism. This critical character trait is one which we constantly seek to cultivate, never to diminish. When we stoop to a level of showing ingratitude towards an inanimate object that has served us - the object is not in any way hurt, we are hurt - our basic trait of gratitude is thereby weakened. It was for this reason that Moses could not be the one to show ingratitude to the Nile by striking its waters after what it had done for him.
 
G-d gave us the concept of blessings because He wants us to nurture this important character trait. He doesn't need our thank-you's but He does want us to become thankful people. He doesn't need our recognition but He wants us to be people who recognize the good in our life. When we bless and thank G-d for what He has given us we foster this vital character trait, making ourselves much finer people worthy of G-d's blessings.

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