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Elimelech and the Blessing
by: Jeffery Kanter, Jewish Magazine

A Bracha, (a blessing), what is a blessing?

We Jewish people have been making blessings for thousands of years. But what is a blessing. Are we giving a blessing to G-d for what he has given us?

When we give a blessing to a friend, it's like wishing that good things should happen to him. Is this the same towards G-d? Can we do such a thing? What is it that G-d lacks, that our blessing can do something?

To answer these questions, there is a famous story about Rabbi Elimelch, the Rabbi of Lesinsk who lived about two hundred years ago. Another Rabbi came to visit Rabbi Elimelch, who was known far and wide for being a Tzaddik (a pure and righteous man).

As they sat together conversing, the visiting Rabbi, who was a distinguished scholar, yet did not achieve the level of holiness and saintliness that Rabbi Elimelch had reached.

"Tell me, Rabbi Elimelch, we both are scholars, well versed in the Jewish law. Yet you have reached a level of saintliness and holiness far beyond me. Explain to me, please, what is the difference between us? What is it that you possess that I don't?"

Rabbi Elimelch pointed to the bowl of fruit, set before them on the table. "When you want to eat an apple, do you make a blessing to G-d?"

"Certainly I do!" the visiting Rabbi answered.

"Ah, that's the difference. You see, when I want to make a blessing to G-d, I eat an apple. When you want to eat an apple you first make a blessing. That is the difference."

What this story is coming to tell us is that blessing is a method that we can use to become close to the creator of the world. True, it thanks him for His goodness. But it can also bring us to a higher level of consciousness in being aware of G-d.

The visiting Rabbi used the blessing to thank G-d for His goodness, which is quite acceptable and commendable. But Rabbi Elimelch used the blessing in a different way. He used it to get close to G-d. The apple was just a medium for being able to do this.

We too, when the opportunity comes for making a blessing, we can use it to increase our awareness of the Supreme Power of the universe. The more blessings that we make, the more we can increase our awareness.

That's the point of making a blessing. It is like we do something for G-d; we cause him to be with us down here on earth instead of hidden up there in the heavens.




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