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Yeshua Explored

Berakhot

todaySeptember 13, 2021 41

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Here’s the basic formula:

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha`olam …

“Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe …”

Berakhot (Blessings) come in three basic categories. Firstly, they can be used with pleasurable or key functions, such as eating or drinking, or smelling something nice. When you hold an apple and say, “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the tree,” what you’re really saying is this; Your presence in this world has been made that much greater through this fruit that You created that I am about to enjoy. It’s all about conscious recognition of the Creator and Sustainer, increasing God’s presence in the world.

Secondly, you can utter a blessing when performing a good deed, a mitzvah, when the following is appended to the basic formula; “Who has sanctified us through His commandments and has commanded us to …”. These deeds include religious obligations, such as lighting candles, reading from the Torah and washing hands.

The final category is times when God is to be praised on special occasions, such as hearing good or bad news, or weather conditions. These are known as “blessings of sight” or “blessings of hearing”. The blessing for seeing a rainbow is particularly relevant, as it reminds us of the covenant that God made with Noah:

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:14-16)

As you can see, these three categories cover the whole sweep of our circumstances and, although overuse of such blessings may seem like dry ritual, they are nevertheless appreciated by He who is receiving them, as He is used to being left out of the affairs of man, including by many of us Christians, to our shame. Mea culpa!

Although Jewish prayers are taken from their prayer book, the Siddur, there’s no reason that they can’t be added to, or at least the basic form being used to create prayers that we can use in our 21st Century living.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, who has kept my computer virus-free for another day.

One of the most beautiful blessings of all, one that is becoming increasingly adopted by churches, even those outside the Messianic world. It’s the Aaronic Blessing.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

God gave this for Aaron, the high priest, to use as the main blessing for the Israelite nation. When the priesthood was disbanded on the loss of the temple, the responsibility for blessing the people passed to the heads of families, the fathers, in the family home, the new temples (mikdash me’at), as we have already explored.

When Jesus blessed the children, he placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:16). In the same way Jewish fathers have blessed their children. Words thus expressed have great power, more so words of Scripture when spoken over one’s children. 

Here’s a simple blessing to get us started.

The blessing of the Lord be on you; I (we) bless you in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 129:8)

How about pausing now, finding someone and praying this blessing over them? Yes, it can be difficult and awkward for some of us, but it’s surely a good thing to do despite any brief embarrassment it may give you.

To bless your wife, the model is in Proverbs 31:10-31. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham spoke these words over Sarah. It’s a long one, but here’s the first few verses:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

For wives to bless their husbands, we have Psalm 112:1-10. Here is the start:

Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 112:1-3)

The Biblical Jewish tradition of blessing sons is for the father to lay his hands on the son’s head and recite the Aaronic blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

This can be followed by personal blessings in the same manner as Jacob blessed his twelve sons individually (Genesis 49:28). You may also want to add something like this:

“May your mouth speak with wisdom. May your heart meditate with reverence. May your hands do the work that God has given you. May your feet hasten to follow the path that God has laid out for your life”.

Daughters are blessed in the way that Ruth was blessed in Ruth 4:11:

“May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel.”

Again this should be followed by personal blessings, expressing your desires for your daughter’s happiness and success. You may also want to add something like this:

“Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter, for you have been kind and generous. The Lord God is your God and His people are your people. May all the people know of certainty that you are a virtuous daughter”.

Then there are blessings for special occasions, for instance at mealtimes. Although most Christians say their blessing (“grace before meal”) before the meal, the Biblical precedent is to pray after you have eaten. This is the Birkath HaMazon, the oldest blessing of all.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

We are all to bless each other. God blesses us through His grace, then we bless others not just through our words but also our actions, the spiritual gifts that He freely gives to us for the express purpose of … blessing others. But we must also bless God Himself through thanksgiving. Thus it is a circle of blessing – from God to man and back to God – and we are all a part of it. Who have you blessed today? Who have I blessed today? 

This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp

How can we bless each other? 

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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