Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The blessing Shehecheyanu

We Jews pray three times a day. Establishing a daily personal connection with our Creator. The rabbis of the Talmud established also a series of blessings, aiming at reminding us of HaShem's presence constantly. Every time we eat, drink, sense a good smell or experience a happy occasion, etc. we recite a blessing to God. We convey in this way that God is not far away hidden in heavens, absent from our lives. On the contrary, His presence is overwhelming. And our major spiritual challenge in life is not to be distracted from His omnipresence.

Emuna (popularly translated as 'faith') does not consist just in our believe in God's existence. Emuna consists mainly in our awareness of God's presence. In a sense, Emuna could be measured by measuring our attention span: The less we are distracted from God's existence, the higher our Emuna, and vice versa.

The blessings were established by the Rabbis, with this purpose in mind. To keep us aware, or to bring our minds back to remember God's presence, virtually every hour of our lives.

The berakha we are learning today, Shehecheyanu, was established by the Rabbis to be said when something unusually joyous happen to us. By pronouncing this beautiful berakha we express our gratitude to God, declaring that He is the true source of our happiness.

Before we get into the details of the appropriate occasions to recite Shehecheyanu, let us understand what this berakha means.

"Blessed are You haShem our God, King of the universe,

Shehecheyanu: that You grant us the merit to be still alive

Vekiyemanu: that You have sustained us, giving us food, health, etc.

Vehigiyanu: allowing us to arrive...

Lazeman haze: to this moment [of happiness and joy]

May we always have the opportunity to thank haShem for happy occasions!

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