Billboards throughout the country are urging Israelis to pray and offer 100 Hebrew blessings a day to God. The source of this idea comes from a verse in Deuteronomy in which Moses speaks to the assembled Jewish nation.
And now, O Yisrael, what does Hashem your God demand of you? Only this: to revere Hashem your God, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve Hashem your God with all your heart and soul, Deuteronomy 10:12
The Hebrew word for what is mah, as in, “”What (mah) does Hashem your God demand of you?”
The Talmud explains that the word mah can also be read as me’ah, meaning 100. In other words, God obligates us to recite 100 blessings every day.
In the times of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a second, much more relevant, Biblical explanation for urging people to bless God 100 times a day.
In the time of King David, 100 people died every day due to a terrible plague.
Hashem sent a pestilence upon Yisrael from morning until the set time; and 70,000 of the people died, from Dan to Be’er Sheva. II Samuel 24:15
In order to combat the plague on a spiritual level, King David, along with the rabbis of his day, instituted the custom to recite 100 blessings a day to counter the 100 deaths every day. Rabbinic tradition teaches that, once this practice was implemented, people stopped dying from the plague that God had sent.
On a typical weekday, a Jew who prays the full three daily prayer services will have recited 90 blessings, just from the established order of prayer. Add a few blessings before and after eating and the blessing made after using the bathroom a few times a day, and reciting 100 Hebrew blessings a day is an achievable goal.
However, 100 Hebrew blessings a day is an unachievable goal for the vast majority of the world, either because they are not Jewish or because they don’t pray the three daily prayers every day.
Fortunately, there is a spiritually powerful alternative that is suitable for absolutely everyone.
You may not be able to recite 100 formal Hebrew blessings a day, but anyone can express gratitude to God 100 times a day for His manifold blessings. All day long, God showers each of us with so many blessings that often go unnoticed and our gratitude for them goes unexpressed.
What if we started noticing them and thanking God for things like:
Thank You God that I found a parking space downtown.
Thank You God that my sister called today.
Thank You God that I had time to finish reading the novel I was so enjoying.
Thank You God that I have appropriate shoes for every kind of activity.
Thank You God for friends who understand what I’m feeling.
Thank You God for technology that lets me see the faces of people I love who live far away when I talk to them.
Thank You God for my new green dress.
Thank you God that I am not lying in a hospital bed.
Thank You God for my ability to distinguish colors.
Thank You God that I can rise from my chair unassisted.
I created a Jewish gratitude journal, called 100 Days of Thanking Hashem: Build Your Spiritual Capacity For Gratitude One Day At A Time, to encourage everyone, Jew and non-Jew, to take on the spiritual practice of gratitude. I included two features that I hope will help more people get into the habit of expressing gratitude to God 100 times a day.
Expressing 100 gratitudes at a time can seem overwhelming. With this journal, you’ll start slowly. On Day 1, you’re asked to thank God for one thing you appreciated that day. By Day 10, you will be better able to find 10 things for which to express gratitude to God. Imagine what you’ll be able to do by Day 100 and every day after, having built your spiritual muscle, one day at a time.
I included lots of inspiring quotes, from Jewish sources, from the Bible and from non-Jewish thinkers who expressed something worth considering about gratitude. Finally, the journal is full of gratitude prompts – things to consider that will help you complete your daily list of gratitudes.
I hope 100 Days of Thanking Hashem will be a useful tool for everyone who wants to start thanking God for the many blessings in their lives.
Even if you choose not to use this, or any other gratitude journal, you can still participate in Israel’s campaign of reciting 100 Hebrew blessings a day by thanking God for the many blessings in your own life, 100 times a day.