Bless and Be Blessed
By: Rav Shlomo Friedman
ועבדתם את השם אלוקיכם ובירך את לחמך ואת מימיך והסירותי מחלה מקרבך (שמות כג כה)
The גמרא in ברכות דף מח sees in this verse a hint for the Rabbinc obligation to say a ברכה before one eats. The גמרא says (quoting רב יצחק) אל תיקרי ובירך אלא וברך. (Don't read "uvayrach" rather "uvaraych"). Is this דרשה just a play on words or is there perhaps a deeper meaning and a lesson that is being taught?
Ramchal writes (in דרך השם חלק ד פרק ה) :
“One of the conditions ordained by the Highest Wisdom was that in order for a person to receive sustenance (shefa) from God, he must first motivate himself in God's direction and turn to God to request his needs. The amount of sustenance depends the degree to which he does so... This is the significance of prayer.
God desires and wills to constantly benefit mankind. He therefore arranged that prayer be a daily obligation. Through it, man receives sustenance, success and blessing according to his needs, as dictated by his state of being in this world.”
In other words, by our acknowledging that what we have comes from G-d we make worthy of His kindness.
In light of the Ramchal, it would seem that the גמרא is telling us that by our reciting our ברכות properly ("uvaraych") and remembering that God is the source of blessing, we are זוכה to ובירך ("uvayrach") - to Hashem blessing our food.
Along similar lines, there is a beautiful משל of the מגיד מדובנא on the פסוק in כח ה) תהילים) . The verse says כי לא יבינו אל פעולות השם ואל ומעשה ידיו יהרסם ולא יבנם.
Once some individual, who was not graced with a great amount of wisdom, struck it rich and won the lottery. He decided to purchase a large piece of land, and hired a contractor to build a mansion on the property to be built with the highest quality materials . At some point, the fellow comes by to see how things are progressing. He encounters a worker who is taking one of the expensive beams. and cutting it down to size. The fellow was shocked. He started yelling at the worker for ruining his expensive beam. He yelled at the contractor for allowing such a thing to happen. All the explanations that were given to him about the fact that the beams can only be used if they are cut down to size, we're of no avail. The contractor and worker realized who they were dealing with and decided to quit on the spot.
The Maggid says that the פסוק is telling us that if a person doesn't try to appreciate God's deeds, the result might be that God will cancel and destroy whatever plans there were to "build great buildings" and give great gifts to that individual.
May we try to properly heed Rabbi Akiva's instruction (as quoted by the שולחן ערוך in the end of סימן רל) "One should always say on a regular basis, 'Whatever God does is for the best.'"
Bless God and thank Him for whatever happens in this world, and in return, receive His blessings.
Shiur ID: 9246