100 Blessings A Day
From the desk of Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
Whenever we are about to enjoy one of God’s gifts, we are supposed to acknowledge that these gifts come from God. In this way, every event, significant or trivial, in our lives is brought to God and, thus, life acquires a religious dimension at every stage. We are supposed to recognize God’s role in our lives all the time. How often? According to Rabbi Meir in the Talmud, "A person is obliged to recite 100 blessings every day.” Therefore, we should challenge ourselves to find 100 blessings each day, from the simple things we take for granted, to food and drink, to spiritual blessings, to all the precious gifts God bestows upon us regularly. Let us imagine pausing every day, one hundred times, to appreciate the good fortune that God is constantly sending our way. It takes just some refocusing and awareness to realize that every one of us receives countless gifts every day from God. As Judaica Press puts it, “These gifts are right before us; all we have to do is to open our eyes, heart and brain to recognize them, appreciate them and be grateful to God for them.”
I have believed for the past 15 years that doing this just one day of our life could change our life forever - Recognizing our daily blessings, blessings we take for granted - Our ability to see, to walk, to talk, to smell, to breathe, every small and not-so-small daily constant miracle. “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” (Author unknown) “The goal is God-awareness throughout life,” and the blessings foster that, says Dr. Rivka Danzig who teaches graduate students at Penn. “They transform the mundane and the commonplace - eating and drinking - into the more spiritual.” There are many ways to recognize God throughout the day, whether in the synagogue or at home, in prayer, in your car, on a walk, or even at work.
The 100 blessings a day reminds me of the 613 commandments. Some look at the commandments and say “613 is too much, too overwhelming.” I say, “All the better to do more.” If I miss one out of 10, I'm down to 90%. 5 and I'm down 50%. But 5 out of 613, I'm only down .8%, I still have 603 more ways to communicate with God. When it comes to 100 blessings, 100 is the goal.
If we spent one day recognizing God’s role in our lives, what could that do for the rest of our lives? If for everything that we take for granted, for one day, we take a moment to thank God? For every complaint we had, we'd recognize the blessing behind it? That sound hurts my ears = Thank God, I can hear. I don't want to get out of bed = Thank God, I have a job and the ability to get out of bed. 100 times, for one day, we would take a moment, no matter how small, and say, “Thank you, God.” Or just, “I recognize where this daily miracle comes from.” Finding blessings everywhere is not hard. The hardest part is choosing to do it. 100 blessings is not hard, the hard part is stopping at 100. The question is can we change the quality of our lives in just one day by recognizing all the gifts that are ours all the time?
Rabbi Alex Greenbaum