The Hebrew word for blessing is bracha. People are most familiar with this term from the formulation of Jewish prayers that start with the word Baruch, Blessed. Those who are familiar with Hebrew will recall that almost every Hebrew word is derived from a 3 letter root. By looking at other words that share the root letters of bracha – Beit, Reish and Chaf – a deeper understanding of a bracha may be gained.

BERECH: The word berech refers to a bend in the body, usually referring to the knee joint. In ancient times it was common to pray on one’s knees, demonstrating humility and an acknowledgment that we mortals are not the source of our own achievements. Bowing reminds us to recognize that there is a Higher Power.

BRAICHA: A braicha is a well, a natural source of water. Water is the fundamental ingredient of life. On a spiritual level, the Torah is likened to water because tapping into the spiritual power of the Torah is essential for the soul. And what is the wellspring of the Torah, the source of this great spiritual energy? God. When you dip your hand in a pool of water, it ripples and radiates outward from the point of impact. No bracha is without its “ripple effect.” From these related words, we learn that a bracha is an act of reaching out to the Source of all energy (God). A bracha enables both the giver and the receiver to see beyond themselves to that Divine Source.

This Treat was originally posted on November 6, 2008.

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