from:Klugerman, Rabbi Tzvi

to:6th Grade Tefilah

Time Oct. 09, 2015

files: 10-9-2015 What is a blessing.docx

What is a blessing?
Today, we returned to exploring the tefilot as we daven.
Besides thanking God for giving the rooster the ability to discern between night and day, we also make a number of blessings that are often recited by rote without understanding the why.
The beracha that we looked at today was פוקח עורים , pokeach ivrim, Who grants sight to the blind. After I explained that the Sages did not easily create blessings that invoke the name of God without good reason. The prohibition of reciting God’s name in vain is very severe. So severe, that the Rabbis taught that when recitation of a blessing is in doubt, it is better not to recite it. Then we asked, “why recite a blessing with God’s name for something which simply happens everyday when we wake up?” As the students grappled with the answer, We segued into a discussion about blessings.
We looked at different examples of blessings in Judaism: The blessing a parent gives to a child on Friday night, the blessing that the kohanim give to us on holidays, the blessing when someone sneezes, and then the opening of the concluding parsha of the Torah, v’zot haberacha, the blessing that Moshe confers upon the people.
After some brainstorming, the students were leaning towards understanding blessing as a gift; something given to us by God that we need to recognize. But a gift is nice, but is not something we get everyday nor use everyday.
I shared with the students the idea that Rashi teaches in the opening psukim of v’zot haberacha, that we read Tuesday. Rashi explains that a beracha given by someone or received from God is for necessities. Returning to our initial beracha of pokeach ivrim, we wrapped up with the understanding that God gives us what we need to succeed and then it is our obligation to recognize and thank Him.

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