Volume 30 Issue 16 04 Jun 2021 24 Sivan 5781

Ma Koreh

Adam Carpenter – Head of Jewish Life Primary

Brachot or blessings

Year 5 is learning about the role and purpose of brachot or blessings, in our tradition. Students are being challenged to think deeply and expansively about the Hebrew words that comprise a blessing and to move beyond the simple, literal meaning.

For example, we have looked at the collection of blessings in our School siddur that are part of בִּרְכוֹת הַשַּׁחַר – Morning Blessings. This series of blessings are said upon waking and which, on one level, describe our actions for waking up and preparing ourselves for the day ahead. After reading the following blessing, we began thinking about what the blessing may be asking us to think about. 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיְ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם פּוֹקֵחַ עִוְרִים 
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Power of the universe, who gives sight to the blind  

On the literal level, we learnt that this blessing may be simply describing the process of waking up and opening our eyes, following our nightly sleep. In expressing gratitude for this process, we appreciate that we are now awake in a different state of consciousness, ready to interact with the world and experience life. 

Students were then asked the following question: “How can someone be blind, with perfectly functioning eyesight and vision?”. Here are some examples of their thinking:

  • We can be blind to other people by not noticing them and only thinking about ourselves
  • We can be blind to seeing people for who they really are
  • We can be blind to seeing aspects in our own lives we need to work on and improve
  • We can be blind to seeing the positives in our lives
  • We can be blind to seeing problems in the world that require action from us

With this understanding, this bracha has now taken on a deeper significance, as we think about what we might need to do or change in our lives and perspectives to be able to really ‘see’ that which we may be ‘blind’ to.