Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 24 June 2017 / 30 Sivan 5777

Blessing Brokers

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

What is the purpose of reciting a blessing? The words “Blessed are You” seem to suggest the impossible (that we are giving G-d a blessing), and how can that be? And if we are receiving a blessing, why are we the ones saying it?

Here are two answers to the above questions: 1) Though Mankind represents the pinnacle of Creation, he nonetheless is a part of Creation, and is therefore limited. As such, it is inconceivable that we can be giving G-d a blessing. The commentators thus explain that the phrase “Blessed are You” is an expression of praise. Through recognizing and praising G-d as the source of all blessing we gain merit resulting in more blessing in our lives. 2) Man, representing the pinnacle of Creation, was given the power to bless. When we recite a blessing we are thus activating the awesome power of blessing G-d invested in the world.

This can be compared to an investment broker. Though he may have no money of his own, he has the legal power to invest the money of his clients. When using this power wisely he can generate a great amount of profit. The same is true when we recite a blessing. We are G-d’s “Blessing Brokers” in this world. Though we have no “blessing power” of our own, as it were, the power to bless has indeed been placed in our hands. We are not only authorized but even required to use G-d’s “blessing power”. Each time we recite a blessing we are activating that power, causing great benefit for us and the world. If we fail to exercise this power then both the world and its inhabitants lose out.

Now just like investment brokers are not all the same, “blessing brokers” are not all the same. When one recites a blessing with great concentration and a sincere heart, the power of that blessing can be ten or even a hundred fold in comparison to a blessing said without any concentration. However, it must be noted that even those blessings said on the lowest levels still have power, since even the most miniscule power that comes from G-d can have a great effect on the world, and so all blessings count. Accordingly, our Sages teach us that the world is sustained by the “breath” of young children who pray and recite blessings. They also instruct one not to take the blessing of a simple person lightly, since even his blessing can bring about wonders.

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