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Blessings: A Conversation Between Me and My Kids

Monday, 23 March, 2020 - 11:26 am

Recent conversation between me and my kids: (the abridged version😊, with some adult lingo thrown in here for clarity’s sake)

Kids: “Why did HaShem make us with a need to eat?”

Me: “Great question! Well, let’s think: Why do we eat? Or the flip side: what would happen if we did not eat?”

Kids: “If many days went by without eating, we couldn’t survive.”

Me: “Aha. So we need food, something outside of ourselves, in order to survive. Well, imagine if HaShem had not made us that way. Picture being able to just go and go and go day after day without eating or drinking.”

Kids: “Would be so cool!” (Apparently someone forgot how much they love mac and cheese for a moment there😊😊)

Me: “Hmmm…But we might also begin to think that we can survive without any outside life source. We might start to believe that our lives are lived by virtue of our own strength and power. So I wonder if our needing to eat so many times a day (yes, for those of you that know us…Cotlar children like to eat so many times a day😊😊) is a way of HaShem giving us so many opportunities each day to never forget that our lives are not lived by virtue of our own capabilities. Our reliance on a food and water source outside of our bodies for survival, is a very tangible reminder that we human beings depend on something outside ourselves for every breath we take, namely HaShem, the One that breathes life into us anew every single second of the day. Hence, the Mitzvah to say a special blessing before eating and drinking in recognition of this.

Bingo! It actually resonated with them. I thanked HaShem for putting the right words into my head to help answer their question.

I must say: The different blessings said on the various food groups is actually one of my favorite Mitzvahs to teach my kids. There they are sitting at the table, about to excitedly dig in to their bowl of mac and cheese or frosted sprinkle cupcake. But then: Pause. This is my moment to teach them to use their uniquely human gift of mind over matter. To remember the true Source of their food and nourishment. To recognize that their life is gifted to them each second of the day and night by a Higher Divine force. To thank G-d. And with the recognition of where our every breath comes from, comes the reminder of how that life is meant to be used: to make the world a more G-dly, holy, kind, and beautiful place.

And only then do they dig in to said mac and cheese😊

With the approaching holiday of Rosh HaShana, some of you have asked me for ideas for a New Years Resolution (aka new Mitzvah) idea to work on for the coming year. This conversation with my kids brought to mind this most beautiful mitzvah of the blessings recited before eating and drinking. After all,  Rosh Hashana is all about asking HaShem to be our Ruler and King once again. To once again breathe life into us, our families, communities, and the world at large each and every second of the new year ahead. How appropriate then, for those looking for new Mitzvah ideas, to take on the Mitzvah of reciting the appropriate  blessing before eating. (They are short- just one sentence long).

And so I have an offer for you. I’d love to be a part of this special Mitzvah. Private message me and I’ll mail a pocket size bracha card to you with all the blessings in Hebrew and English to keep in your purse for an easy and convenient way to assist you in saying the correct blessing before eating and drinking. It won’t take long to learn the different  food groups and their respective blessings. It can actually be a fun process to figure out which blessing is said on a particular food. (And maybe just maybe one day we’ll have to have a Jewish Womens Brachos (Blessing) Bee at Chabad of Cary!!:)

Looking forward to hearing from you!

For now though, I gotta run and put up another pot of mac and cheese😊.

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