In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!
Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.
Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!
“I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” (Genesis 12:3)
ואברכה מברכיך ומקללך אאר ונברכו בך כל משפחת האדמה.
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless Hashem your God for the good land given to you.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)
ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את יהוה אלהיך על הארץ הטבה אשר נתן לך.
Receiving brachot, blessings, is critically important in the Bible. Rebecca so desperately wanted Jacob to receive Isaac’s blessing instead of Esau, she designed an entire plan to trick Isaac and ensure that Jacob received the blessing. At the end of his own life, Jacob blesses each of his sons. Moses, too, blesses each of the tribes of Israel before he dies.
Why are blessings so significant? A brachah, when given by a truly God-fearing person, is a powerful tool to manifest something in the world that is currently lacking. It opens up spiritual pathways for God’s blessings to enter the world and change someone’s life.
A second kind of brachah is found in the Bible as well: giving thanks to God for all we have and recognizing that God is the source of everything.
“And you shall eat, and you shall be satisfied, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land that He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10). This verse is the root of the Jewish practice to recite blessings before and after eating. One is forbidden to enjoy any of the pleasures of the world without first blessing God.
The grammatical root of the word brachah is berech, “knee,” and connotes lowering ourselves to our knees in humility before God, emphasizing the importance of showing gratitude towards God.
Blessings are a means for directing us into the presence of God at all times, helping us maintain constant contact with our Creator. They are a remedy for forgetfulness, reminding us to continuously wonder at the grandeur of God’s world.