Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Blessings - Knowing the Difference

Rabbi Jay M. Stein on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

Number 1

                                                         Knowing the Difference                                       

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם. אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לַשּכְוִי בִינָה לְהַבְחִין בֵּין יום וּבֵין לָיְלָה

Baruch ata Adonai eloheinu melech haolam asher natan la’sechvi vinah l’havchin bein yom u׳vein lilah.

Praised are You Master our God Sovereign of the universe who has given the rooster the ability to discern between day and night.

This bracha (blessing) is the first blessing of a grouping a brachot (plural for bracha) that is recited early on the morning prayers. It was originally recited when one woke, at the very first moment of consciousness. Even before opening one’s eyes we begin to think.  Some will wonder, what time is it?  If we are awakened by an alarm we might know without looking at the clock, but if not, then we might struggle to know.  Some will wonder what day of the week it is.  Some will think about what they will wear.  Some will do a body check to assess what hurts and what doesn’t.  Some will think about their daily schedule. Traffic, weather will be on others’ mind.

At its core, this bracha is about being able to choose and at the heart of being able to choose is the ability to differentiate.  At first blush, this bracha thanks God for giving us the ability to know if it is time to get up and begin our day or to lay in bed and sleep a little longer.  However, if the bracha is also about the forces of light and the forces of darkness, this bracha is then, additionally, about choosing between good and bad.

Daily we are confronting by choices.  May this bracha awaken within us the ability to choose wisely, fully aware of the decisions we are making and their potential consequences.