The Power of Teshuvah – Day 21
How do we maintain a constant state of yiras Shamayim? Certainly, anyone with eyes, a mind, and a heart can occasionally arrive at a sense of awe by observing the majesty of God’s Creation. A stunning sunset can bring tears to your eyes. A newborn baby can fill your heart with wonder. The night sky can overwhelm your senses with its vastness.
But yiras Shamayim is not meant to be a momentary revelation; it is one of the six mitzvos in which a Jew is commanded to constantly engage. We are commanded to have yirah, which incorporates not only fear of God, but also, constant awareness that He is the Creator of all we see. Therefore, the blessings said during the day were formulated.
As the Rambam states:
Just as one must recite a blessing when deriving pleasure, he must also recite a blessing before doing any mitzvah … The Sages also established many blessings of praise and thanksgiving and in supplication … All blessings can be divided into three categories: blessings of pleasure; blessings of mitzvos; and blessings of praise, thanksgiving, and supplication; so that one will be ever cognizant of his Creator and be fearful of Him.
A day that is saturated with the mindful recitation of blessings is a day infused with yiras Shamayim.
Since reciting the blessings is intended to foster yiras Shamayim, we begin our day with the morning blessings, Birchos HaShachar. By immediately acknowledging the numerous miracles involved in simply waking up alive and functional, we accept upon ourselves the “yoke of Heaven” that can carry us through the day.
In reality, however, these and most other blessings we recite can quickly become rote. As such, they cannot help us to grow in yiras Shamayim.
A powerful solution to that problem is to realize that it is only through our blessings and prayers that God’s goodness comes into the world. We are not merely reciting words, but actually, activating the supply system of Creation, drawing forth the spiritual power that enables the tree to bear fruit, the ground to yield bread, the eyes to see, the limbs to move, the Jewish people to possess their special closeness to God, and so forth.
By envisioning each of these gifts flowing into our life as we recite the blessing, the words come alive. They become a creative act that brings good into the world, and the individual reciting it builds within himself a constant connection to God and His loving care.
Points to Ponder:
- Yiras Shamayim is a constant mitzvah requiring awe of God and awareness of Him as the Creator and Sustainer of everything.
- Reciting blessings is a means to maintain our awareness of God’s benevolence.
- Reciting a blessing is a real force in bringing God’s gifts into one’s life.