"Ninety seven what, Chaim?"
"Ninety seven berachos."
"Do we have a mitzvah to count berachos, Chaim?"
"No, but we have a mitzvah to make 100 berachos each day."
"Really? What is the source of that mitzvah?"
"The Shulchan Auruch HaRav (46:1) explains that 100 Jews were dying each day in the time of Dovid HaMelech. No one knew the reason for this plague, until Dovid HaMelech contemplated the matter and understood with Ruach HaKodesh that it was necessary to bless Hashem 100 times each day. Therefore he decreed that each Jew should make 100 berachos per day. And so, the decree was carried out and the plague stopped (Medrash Tanchuma Korach 12). The Prisha explains that the number 100 came from a Kabbalistic secret, which Dovid revealed to the Sanhedrin. They, along with the wise men of the generation, fixed the 100 blessings that we make to this very day. They consist of praise, requests, and thanks to Hashem for all of His wonders and gifts, both large and small."
"I never knew that, Chaim."
"There are also hints to the number 100 in Tanach, Avi. 'The words of Dovid the son of Yishai, and the words of the man raised on high' (Shmuel 2, 23:1). The word 'high' in Hebrew (al) is spelled 'ayin lamed' which has the gematria (numeric value) of 100. One of the sayings of Dovid was his decree to make 100 berachos.
"The gemora (Menachos 43b) cites another verse, 'Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d ask of you . . . to walk in His ways . . . and to serve Him' (Devarim 10:12). The word 'what' in Hebrew is 'mah,' which is spelled 'mem hey.' If you insert the letter 'aleph' in the middle, you have the word 'meah' which means 100. The way to walk in Hashem's ways and serve Him is to make 100 berachos per day."
"This is all so fascinating, Chaim."
"There is more, Avi. The Baal HaTurim finds a hint in the verse, 'But you who cling (devakim) to Hashem your G-d are all alive today' (Devarim 4:4). The letter "kuf," which has the gematria of 100, appears in the word "devakim" with a note over it. We find another hint in the daily prayers. The siddur 'HaTehilla ViHaTiferres' points out that the gematria of the word 'modim,' (the first word of the eighteenth blessing of the shemoneh esray) is 100. This is the blessing that thanks the Almighty for all that He has given to us, thereby hinting to the fact that we thank Hashem every day with these 100 berachos.
"These 100 berachos remain a halachic obligation to this very day, as stated in Shulchan Auruch Orach Chaim 46:3. Additionally, they give Hashem great pleasure (so to speak), and cause blessing to come down to this earth (The Zohar). The Rokeach adds that they provide protection against curses and plagues. The Shulchan Auruch HaRav cites the Levush who explains that these 100 berachos bring us to fear Hashem, to love Him, and to remember Him always."
"That is the core of our very existence."
"Exactly, Avi. So you see that these 100 berachos are very important indeed."
"Awesome. What are they, Chaim? Are they listed anywhere?"
"Yes, Avi. In the evening prayers, we have two blessings before Kriyas Shema, two blessings afterwards, and nineteen in Amidah for a total of 23. If we then eat bread for dinner, we wash our hands before, make Hamotzi, and say Bircas Hamazone after for a total of six blessings. Add Hamapil that we say before going to bed and we have a total of 30. In the morning, we wash our hands, thank Hashem for the wonders of our body and soul, and say the two blessings on the Torah. Those five, plus the fifteen Bircas Hashachar and the blessings on tallis and tefillin bring our total to 53. We then proceed to the morning prayers, make two blessings on Pesukei Dizimra, three on Kriyas Shema, and the nineteen of Amidah add up to 77. We eat another bread meal (six) and daven another Amidah at Mincha (19) and arrive at a grand total of 102."
"You should know, Avi that all blessings are a Rabbinic obligation except for the ones mentioned in this week's parasha. 'You will eat, be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your G-d for the good Land that He gave you' (Devarim 8:10). The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 430) expounds on the types of berachos, their meanings, and purpose."
"Please share it with me, Chaim."
"First of all, we must ask ourselves, 'Why does Hashem want us to bless Him?' Does He need our blessings? He is perfect in every way, lacking nothing. Our blessings cannot possibly add anything to the One who is all- encompassing in His perfection. Rather, the berachos are for our good."
"In what way, Chaim?"
"The essence of Hashem's goodness and perfection is giving to others. He wants to be good to us by giving to us. However, we must deserve it. That is His justice. We earn the merit to receive His blessings by realizing that He is the source of all blessing and all good. We praise The Almighty for His greatness, his goodness, and the awesomeness of His Being and His creation. Only then, after we realize Who we are speaking to, may we make a request from Him. We ask Him for everything that we want and need. We close by thanking Him for all that He has given to us and continues to give to us each and every moment of our lives. In this way, we show Him that we realize that the blessing comes from Him. As the Bircas HaMazone states, '(We should be fed) only from Your hand, it is full, it is open, it is holy, it is wide.'"
"That is beautiful."
"There is more, Avi. Our blessings can affect all of mankind, and all of creation."
"In what way, Chaim?"
"The word 'boruch' means that Hashem is the source of all blessing. The word "Yisborach" (as in Hashem Yisborach) means that He is the One who sends the berachos down to us. He is the giver. In our tefillos, we pray that everyone will realize this. That, in turn will enable Him to shower this world with blessing in every way. Our realization that He is the source of all good enables Him to give, and give, and give. He created the world for the purpose of giving, therefore when we bless Him it allows Him to bring the world to its intended purpose. There is no greater good that we can give Him than allowing Him to fulfill His purpose of creation."
"I am ready, Chaim. Let us all bless Hashem at least 100 times a day."
Kinderlach . . .
We have different types of berachos. Blessings of praise to Hashem, blessings of thanks, and blessings of request. Our Bircas HaShachar praise and thank Hashem for restoring our souls to our bodies, and giving us the gifts of health and basic needs. The Bircas HaMitzvos on Torah learning, tallis, and tefillin, thank Hashem for choosing us from among the nations and giving us the merit to fulfill His mitzvos. The blessings of Pisukei DiZimra praise Hashem for all of His Wondrous Glory. The blessings before Kriyas Shema describe the praises of the angels in Heaven each morning, and thank Hashem for the Torah. The blessings after Kriyas Shema thank Hashem for the mitzvos and praise Him as the Redeemer. The three sections of Shemoneh Esray contain blessings of praise, request, and thanks, respectively. The blessings before and after eating are praise and thanks for giving us sustenance. We praise and thank Hashem for our wondrous bodies after taking care of our needs. Finally, we ask Him for a restful night, and request that He restore our souls again the next day. Kinderlach, it is a true privilege to bless Hashem. Take advantage of it, grow spiritually from it, and help The Almighty fulfill His purpose of creation by bringing goodness down to the world.
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