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“Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d, to go in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul. To observe the commandments of Hashem and His decrees, which I command you today, for your benefit” (Devarim 10:12-13).

The Hebrew word for “what” is mah. The Sages interpreted the word homiletically as if it were written meah, one hundred, and deduced that Hashem asks of us to recite at least one hundred blessings daily.

One might ask, however, what is the connection then with the rest of the passage? What does reciting one hundred blessings daily have to do with fearing Hashem, going in His ways, loving Him etc.?

I once heard a cassette of a discourse by the great Kabalist, Rabbi Velvel Cheshin ztvk”l. It is well known that one of the greatest Kabalists was the Holy Arizal, Harav Hatzaddik Yitzchak Ashkenazi ztvk”l of the Holy city of Tzefas. The greatest of his students, who received the tradition of Kabala from him and passed it down to others, was Harav Hatzaddik Chaim Vital ztvk”l. It is said that the G’ra ztvk”l (The Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna) said that of all of the “cubs” of the Ari (the Arizal was known as “The Lion”, and his students, his “cubs”), he only relies on the Torah which Reb Chaim Vital passed down, since he is the only one who really understood the great Master properly.

Rav Cheshin related that Reb Chaim himself once explained how it came to be that he surpassed all of his colleagues. We would have imagined that he would credit his diligence in learning or his piety and holiness. But, surprisingly, the reason he gave was simply that he was always very careful to recite the blessings over food with the proper kavanah (devotion)!

Reb Chaim explained, according to the secret mysteries of the Kabala, that there are different types of punishments for sinful souls when they stand before the Heavenly Magistrate. As painful as it is, Gehinom (Hell) is a temporary situation, after which the believing soul departs, having been totally cleansed of all iniquities, to bask in the joy of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) and be rewarded for all of the good deeds she performed while in this world; for even sinners perform many mitzvahs.

But there are many, exceedingly sinful souls, who are not “privileged” to be sentenced to a period of purification in Gehinom. Instead, they are reincarnated in this world. Some are reborn in human bodies again where they are given the opportunity to do better this time; recognizing, of course, the fact that they may, actually, do worse.

Some are reincarnated in animals and other types of wildlife, and must suffer the discomforts those creatures have.

And some are brought back in different types of fruits and vegetables, which also have some sort of living spirit within them. These are dependent upon the free-will of those who consume them. If someone makes a proper blessing on food, the soul living within that item gets its tikkun (rehabilitation) and becomes eligible to return to the world of souls for proper treatment. If, however, that item is eaten without the proper prayer being recited over it, the soul will have to return, once again, in some other food produce. This could go on for some time, with the poor soul suffering all the while.

Reb Chaim Vital explained that if one makes the blessing with kavanah and is mesaken (fixes) the soul within the food, that soul is so grateful to him that when she stands, once again, before the Heavenly Magistrate, she intercedes for the one who helped her get where she is and pleads that that person should be blessed.

“Since I was always very careful to recite prayers over food with the proper concentration,” Reb Chaim concluded, “I have lots of souls praying for my success. And that is why I surpassed my colleagues!”

With this, we can understand the above passage. If one makes the hundred daily blessings properly, the souls he will help will pray for his success. Consequently, he will be privileged to fear Hashem; to go in His ways, to love Him etc.

Let’s start paying attention to the prayers we make all day long. It will benefit us greatly in this world and the world-to-come.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel