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First Blessing 4: Blessings Cont.

“Blessed are You, Hashem.”

Every time that I acknowledge God, God’s presence expands. – Nefesh Hachaim (See too Proverbs 11:25, where the word “Beracha” means to expand.)

This is a selection from the Second Chapter of the Second Gate:

First you must understand that the word baruch is not a form of praise or glorifying God, as most consider it. Because there is a Gemara in Berachot that relates a story about Rabbi Ishmael the High Priest. Once, when he went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he heard a voice. The voice said, “Ishmael, My son, bless Me.” And he did. He gave God a blessing. He said, “May it be Your will that there always be love between You and your children, and may You never be angry with them.” He doesn’t mention any words of praise in that blessing. Rather, it is prayer and a request for compassion.

So we see that the word baruch does not mean ‘to glorify’ someone.

And in tractate Bava Metziah we say, “that which is holy does not need a blessing”. The Gemara there asks, ‘it doesn’t?’ Doesn’t the Torah say, ‘You will eat and be satisfied, and bless God?’ Really, the word baruch means that something is being added onto, or something that is growing. As it is written, “Take my gift. And God will bless your bread so that you will have much more. God will increase the fruit of your womb.” And similarly, we find many examples in the Bible, of the word baruch meaning ‘to expand, or grow.’ You can’t translate any of those verses to mean praise. All of them are terms of expansion or growing.

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