Countdown To Chanukah 24 – From Eye To Brain I
Building on Rabbeinu Bachya, The Shulchan shel Arbah (First Gate) explains the four blessings of Havdalah as corresponding to the nature and power of each physical sense:
Blessing over the wine: Taste, the coarsest of the senses because one needs physical contact to taste.
Blessing over the spices: Smell functions even at a distance and even if the source of the smell is no longer physically present. Smell is considered more ethereal than taste.
Blessing over the Flaming Lights: Sight, which can reach farther than smell.
Blessing the One Who separates between the Holy and the Profane: using our minds to differentiate.
It is the sense of sight that directly communicates with the intellect, concludes the Shulchan shel Arbah.
The blessings we recite over the Chanukah Menorah begin with Sight: Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of Chanukah.
Followed by a blessing – Hallel – using our intellect:
Who performed miracles for our fathers in those days at this time.
We can use this period of Countdown to Chanukah to improve our sight, training it to communicate with our intellect:
Berachos Said Upon Witnessing Phenomenal Sights
When seeing shooting stars, a comet, or witnessing a hurricane or lightning say:
Blessed are You…Who makes the work of Creation.
When seeing a rainbow say:
Blessed are You … Who remembers the covenant, is faithful to His covenant and fulfills His word.
When seeing great seas, or tall mountains which are famous for their great height, say:
Blessed are You… Who makes the work of Creation.
Upon seeing a place where you had experienced a life-saving miracle, you should say:
Blessed are You… Who performed a miracle for me at this place.
Ayin Tov – Good Eye
“He [Rabban Yohanan] said unto them: go forth and observe which is the right way to which a man should cleave? Rabbi Eliezer said, a good eye (Pirkei Avot 2:9 – sefaria.org)
– Focus on the good we see in other people
– Focus on the blessings in our lives
– Finding good things to say about others
We can make lists to celebrate our accomplishments of the past year.
These exercises are actually a form of Hallel.