בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם הָמוֹציא לֶחם מן הַארץ
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.
Blessed are You God, Ruler of the universe, who has brought forth bread from the earth.
On a visit to Israel, Rabbi Abraham Twerski shared a meal with a man who recited the Motzi, the blessing over the bread cited above. Rabbi Twerski explains in his book, Living Each Day, that after saying these sacred words, the man did something quite unusual – he kissed the bread before he ate a piece. Rabbi Twerski, having never seen anyone do this, asked the man why he kissed the bread.
The man looked at Rabbi Twerski with bewilderment. “Do you not kiss the Torah? Do you not kiss sacred objects – like the mezuzah – to show your reverence for them? Bread, too,” the man said, “is sacred. It is the handiwork of God, of this miraculous universe in which we live. This is why we say, ‘God…has brought forth bread from the earth.’”
After hearing the man’s response, Rabbi Twerski felt foolish. The man was right. We are so accustomed to the fact that when we plant a seed it grows and we assume that this is just a natural phenomenon. A seed is buried in the ground, grows roots and sprouts a new plant. We take for granted how incredible this is. We overlook that this awe-inspiring process is a direct act of God – the awesome power of the universe – whose handiwork should be seen in every stalk of wheat, every blade of grass, every living thing.
The Motzi, Rabbi Twerski explains, reminds him of this man’s teaching. Bread is sacred. While we might not choose to kiss our bread before we eat, we should certainly pause to appreciate just how amazing its existence is. And we should do so for so many other things in our lives, for the people in our lives and for the sacred moments in our lives.
As we welcome and celebrate the new year, may we also commit to finding the awesomeness in the simple things that we too often take for granted. In doing so, may we make 2018 a year filled with amazing moments. We can begin by saying the Shehecheyanu as the ball drops and the champagne flows:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Our praise to You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all:
for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this special moment.
I hope you all enjoyed Chanukah. May the remainder of the holiday season be bright, peaceful and filled with family and friends. Cheryl, Abigail and Jonah join me in wishing you all a very happy, healthy and meaningful 2018!