Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 4th berakha: The blessing of wisdom

18th of Cheshvan, 5771

'Ata Chonen leadam da'at...' (YOU grant man wisdom...)

This berakha inaugurates the blessings in which we ask God for our material needs.

In total, there are 13 blessing which correspond to this category. Six of them asking God Almighty for our personal needs. Six of them for our national needs, and lastly, the all-inclusive thirteenth blessing: shome'a Tefila.

Why do we ask God for wisdom before anything else?

Because without wisdom/intelligence, we will not know what to ask. Or we can be asking the wrong things. Or even worse, without intelligence, we will not be able to identify the gifts we are constantly getting from HaShem.

'YOU' grant man wisdom (da'at) also describes a core Jewish belief. We acknowledge that da'at, intelligence/wisdom Is not a matter of neurons but a gift from God. An unnatural condition granted to man. Our brain is structurally very close to that of the monkeys, but we have what we call in this berakha 'the gift of intelligence', which is not an extension of our biological make up, like sight or hearing but a gift from haShem. Without da'at, biologically we could survive.

But we wouldn't be able to 'connect' to God or to choose between good and bad.

We recognize in this berakha 3 intellectual categories .

CHOKHMA: Associated with creativity. The capacity to discover something new. To see what no one sees, when everyone is looking at the same things. To develop a completely new idea.

BINA: The practical intelligence to apply a new idea.

DAAT: The wisdom of experience, which we acquire as we grow.