Everyday Blessings

Everyday Blessings

A dear friend of mine out in the blogosphere lost her battle with cancer recently. She was in a lot of pain, but she wanted to defeat it and go on living. Now that she has passed away, she's gone to a place where she will never suffer or know sorrow again. She will always know G-d and be close to Him. She will never want for anything.

Here on Earth, things are not so peachy. We suffer, we worry, we want. We have to live without people we love or things that we want. Often, there isn't anything we can do about it. Sometimes it seems like the easiest, even ideal thing to do is wait to die. Why not just give up and wait for G-d to take us into His arms? Let Him deal with everything so we don't have to worry.

The answer is simply in the fact that we are still here.  If dying were all we were meant to do, G-d would just take us. What would He put us down here if all He wanted us to do was wait? He gave us a job to do. It's our purpose to be here, working to bring Heaven down to Earth. G-d gave us the Mitzvos so we could do that. Every Mitzvah we do adds one more brick to the BeisHaMikdash and brings us one step closer to establishing G-d's kingdom on Earth and bringing Moshiach.

Chassidus teaches us that a spark of G-dliness exists within everything. That spark is the potential to elevate any object or action to something Holy.  That means that every moment we are here on Earth, every single breath we take is a chance to do the one thing HaShem has put us here to accomplish.  It is very easy to see the Holiness in the “Big Things,” the sorts of actions that we go out of our way to do. Things like going to Synagogue or a Simcha (joyous occasion, ie wedding, bris, bar mitzvah, etc), taking time out of our day to Daven (pray), recite Tehillim (Psalms) or learn Torah.  These actions remove us from the mundane protocols of life and take us to a Higher Plane.

However, even the mundane protocols of life can be taken to that Higher Plane.  Drinking a glass of water, eating a meal, even getting caught in the rain, each present a unique opportunity to elevate our G-dly sparks and bring the light of G-d down to Earth.  Stop before you take that first sip of water, no matter how thirsty you are.  In five seconds (I timed it!) you can elevate that beverage.  By making the proper Bracha (blessing) you’ve taken the simple action of quenching your thirst and made it into a mitzvah.  The opportunity is even greater at lunch.  Have a slice of bread with your salad.  Now, you have to wash your hands and make a bracha (that’s one), make a bracha over the bread (that’s two), and then bless the meal afterward – this is a collection of blessings that takes five minutes to recite but gives you a chance to bring G-d’s presence down to your table and, G-dwilling, to rest here on Earth.  If you eat with a friend and talk a little Torah – Bam!  More sparks!  And company.  Good deal, right?

Believe it or not, even getting caught in a thunderstorm gives you a chance to make a blessing.  The sound of thunder evokes a primal memory of creation and that’s why we say the Bracha, “OsehMa’asehBereishis,” – “Blessed is HaShem, who again performs the actions of creation.”  This blessing also gives you a chance to change your perspective and see the inconvenience of rain as a pure blessing…and the opportunity to share your umbrella with someone less prepared for such blessings.

Rain also brings us opportunity for another mitzvah, one that combines the “going out of your way,” sort with the “everyday” type.  The Mitzvah of using the Mikvah requires a woman to go out of her way. She must take extra time to ensure she is completely physically clean before she goes out of her way to a Mikvah to immerse herself.  A valid immersion requires her to be free of all intervening substances.  Everything from contact lenses to jewelry, makeup and dirt under the finger and toenails must be removed.  This takes time to complete. Once finished, the woman immerses in a Mikvah – aspecial pool of living water – water connected to a natural source, which in most cases, is rain water. 

The mitzvah here is not simply, “Cleanliness is close to G-dliness.”  Immersion in the Mikvah envelops a woman in Holiness, which she brings home to her Husband. She goes from being physically clean to being spiritual purified. Physical intimacy is an intrinsic part of every marriage.  Allowing the laws of Mikvah and Taharat Hamishpacha (Family Purity) to govern the physical willelevate the spark contained within that marriage. Observance of this mitzvah brings the sanctity of G-d into the home, the family and the very fiber of the relationship.

Jews are given the opportunity every day to bring Heaven to Earth in simple ways.  The nature of our relationship with G-d is so organic that He exists in every moment of our lives.  We don’t need to go out of the way to reach Him, only look deeper inside ourselves.  In only seconds, we can connect with G-d.  He also gives us chances to reach out and to put ourselves out in order to reach Him.  With rituals like the Mikvah we can bring the inside out and physically express the Holiness with which G-d trusts us.  The sparks of G-d’s light are everywhere, in everything and it is up to each of us to elevate them.

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