Make Your BERACHOS Meaningful

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Rabbi Mechel Handler’s recently released new book, published by Art Scroll, is already making a big hit in the community. The author of this outstanding new volume on berachot was inspired to write this book after last year’s Meron tragedy. In his introduction to the book, Rabbi Handler quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky, who said after that Lag B’Omer that in order to prevent tragedy, “We should improve our kavanna when reciting berachot, to feel Hashem’s closeness to us.”

Rabbi Handler’s book is filled with description, instruction, and elucidation of how to pray, how to say a berachah, and what our intentions should be. Rabbi Handler has also added fascinating, documented stories that help readers to incorporate the book’s teachings into their own lives. Everything in the book is based on the teachings of Hazal, the Rishonim and Acharonim, as well as the Baalei Mussar and Baalei Hassidut. The book is divided into six sections, with appendices, and the entire book is also divided into 100 sections for daily learning.

I spoke with Rabbi Handler about his new book. He and encouraged me to pick up a copy, to gain a clearer insight into the world of berachot. After starting the book, the very next day I realized that I paid much more attention to how I was saying my daily tefilot and Tehillim.

The preface (Day One and Day Two) introduces the reader to the daily 100-day learning schedule. This immediately raises our awareness of the special connection that we have with Hashem and how to build that special connection. As Rabbi Handler explains, “We recite, on average, three million berachot in a lifetime. It is certainly worthwhile to take the time to learn what the words really mean.”

Rabbi Hander raises thought-provoking points such as: How does one bless Hashem, Who is already blessed? Why is it necessary to mention in every berachah that Hashem is Melech HaOlam, the King of the World? Why can’t we just say, “Thank you Hashem for the fruit or the coffee” etc.? When you think about how many hundreds of people from the four corners of the globe are involved in producing the materials that enable you to enjoy a cup of coffee, or a delicious fruit, you will understand how all of that requires coordination from the Melech HaOlam.

The Hafetz Haim says that it is worth it to come into this world and live seventy years just in order to address Hashem even once as “Atah – You.” Hashem loves us so much that He puts aside the rules of etiquette and does not require us to address Him in the formal third person, but rather allows us to address Him in second person Atah – You, as one who is close to Him.

The book also discusses the blessings we give one another, such as greetings and wishes of mazal tov, and berachot of tsaddikim and Kohanim. How does that work?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Our relationship with Hashem depends on speaking to Him.

Here is an excerpt from Part Three, Day 23 and 24 pages 113-116:

“Baruch” is a descriptive title, declaring that Hashem is the Source of all blessings.

“Baruch” is a form of praise and thanks.

“Baruch” is a form of request and prayer.

“Baruch” means drawing forth from the Source of all blessings.

“Baruch” is a term of increase.

The above is a thumbnail sketch, as each concept of the word “Baruch” is followed by explanations from our rabbis.

This is a book geared for adult readers on any level, who want to learn how to truly make their blessings more meaningful, to recognize the Divine Providence in their lives, to and to change their attitude and understanding of tefillah. The appendices end with something we all hope to need to know in our lifetimes – Seven Berachos When Greeting Mashiach.

I strongly recommend that each one of you read Make Your BERACHOS Meaningful. It will change your berachot forever and will help to bring more berachah into your life.

Sponsored in loving memory of the Sassoon children, a”h, to help promote berachah in our lives.