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Or Chadash: Blessings

The 17th of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Chaim ben Binyamin Bechner of Krakow, Talmudist and grammarian, author of Or Chadash on the laws of the Blessings of Pleasure. He died on February 2, 1684.

The Talmud teaches that it is prohibited for a person to derive any pleasure from this world without first reciting a blessing. The pleasures can be divided into five categories corresponding to the five senses: Taste, Smell, Hearing, Seeing, and Touch.

Seeing is the sense that has the furthest reach, then hearing, smell, touch and, finally, taste.

The five senses correspond to the five names of the Higher Soul, the 5 Books of the Torah, the 5 times that the word “Or,” or Light, is mentioned in creation, and the five fingers.

The blessings we recite transform the physical, represented by the fingers, into Torah and if done with proper intention, into light.

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