Counting Our Blessings

For the week ending 8 August 2020 / 18 Av 5780

The Morning Blessings: Blessing Ten: You've Got it All

by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer
Library Library Library

“Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has provided me my every need.”

The significance of the tenth blessing should not be underestimated. The blessing is not just an enormously compelling testament of our trust in G-d. It is also a powerful lesson in our belief that G-d is intimately involved in every aspect of our personal lives as well. “Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has provided me my every need.” The blessing introduces us to an innovative and exhilarating concept. Not only did G-d place us here in this physical world, but He has given each of us the wherewithal to be able to persevere and to flourish spiritually while we are here.

The blessing heralds the beginning of a process which teaches us that there is an unfathomable difference between our needs and our wants. Our blessing is not suggesting that there is anything remiss with desiring things that we presently do not have. Judaism does not advocate that there is something wrong with wanting things that G-d has not (yet) given us. Rather, our Sages want us to reach the point where we are able to recognize and acknowledge that we have been given everything that we need — even if there is plenty more that we want. Only if we first accept that G-d has given us what we need, is it then possible to honestly stand in front of G-d and ask for whatever our hearts’ desire. Because, even if it doesn’t always feel that way, we now understand that whether we are given what we want or not is irrelevant to the matter of whether we have what we need right now.

The tenth blessing is instilling within us the acceptance that we may not get everything that we want. And, it is also instilling the ability to recognize that whatever we may need at any one given moment in time has been given to us. Quite a thought-provoking notion!

In furtherance to this concept, there is a fascinating detail contained within the blessing, which helps define it. This is the only blessing in the entire series of the fifteen Morning Blessings that uses the word “li” — “me” in Hebrew — as a separate word. The blessings tend to speak in the third person plural, as they are mostly applicable to everyone. And, yet, here, our Sages chose to express themselves in the singular. What is fundamentally different between this blessing and the majority of the other blessings? With this word — “me” — our Sages are conveying a principle that is of paramount consequence. Only I can assert that I have everything that I need. No one else can make that declaration in my place. And, in exactly the same way, I cannot make that declaration for anyone else. The terminology used in the blessing is a lesson that the great nineteenth century ethicist, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, would repeat to his students constantly: One should worry about one’s own spiritual needs and worry about the physical needs of others — not the other way around.

Now, after recognizing that G-d sustains and oversees the running of the world, we are ready to accept that the only person who is spiritually and emotionally capable of making such a grandiose declaration that G-d “has provided me my every need” is me alone. And, on reciting the blessing I am attaining both the loftiest spiritual levels of connection to G-d and the most basic physical levels as well — through feeling a sense of complete dependency on Him.

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