February 20, 2024 /
Well, it finally happened; the summer came to an end. I hope you are relaxed and rejuvenated. Typically, the summer is a time for rest and relaxation, sitting on a beach somewhere, with a cold drink that has a miniature umbrella in it and letting all your troubles and concerns melt away. We certainly have many of those to let go. There have been so many disasters in the world these past two months, natural and human made, physical and financial. If we wanted to, I’m sure we could list out a litany of things that keep us up at night.
And yet… there is also tremendous beauty all around us. Beauty of the world and beauty in the actions that are performed for one another. We know that when faced with beauty versus disaster, sometimes it’s the disaster that we choose not to look away from.
Our Sages understood that nature of our psyche and came up with a remedy for it found within the Talmud:
It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: A person is obligated to recite one hundred blessings every day, as it is stated in the verse: “And now, Israel, what [ma] does the Lord your God require of you” (Deuteronomy 10:12). Rabbi Meir interprets the verse as though it said one hundred [me’a], rather than ma.
~ BT Menachot 43b:15
Be honest now, how many of you really find 100 things to bless in a day? I won’t wait for an answer, but I will ask, how do you think your life might feel different if you were to find 100 things to bless in a day? 100 things to find gratitude in? I’m sure many of you are thinking, “there’s no way I could find 100 things!” But couldn’t you? Health? Shelter? Food? Family? A cool breeze?
There was one time when I was very young – we went to stay with friends of my father’s family. One of the days we went blueberry picking. I either got lost or was scared off by a swarm of bees or something along those lines. I came back in a miserable mood. I think I was 7 at the time. I barely remember anything about the weekend, but I do remember the conversation I had with the guy we were staying with. He asked me, “What’s the matter? Oh wait, I know, you were hit by a tornado? No? Then there must a been an earthquake? A thousand bee stings?” And the list went on and on. It made me realize that some of the worries I had really weren’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, many of the things on the list have been issues in the world this summer: fires, floods, etc. We can get lost in these and if we do, we will never be able to find our way out of the darkness.
I believe we need to say these daily blessings because it helps us find a healthy perspective in our lives by empowering us to find pathways forward – to feel empowered to find solutions to the real dilemmas we face. This is how we move forward, and this is how we can help build a better world. May all the blessings in your lives be bountiful now and always.