Jewish Blessings for Everyday Situations and Special Moments, Explained by Rabbis (2023)

The concept of “blessings” gets tossed around widely and casually these days. After all, what is social media without a slew of (sincere or ironic) #blessed captions?

But in Judaism, blessings are an essential and meaningful practice for holiday observance and for every day. “The word ‘blessed’ comes up more and more in popular culture — ‘too blessed to be stressed’ sort of thing,” says Rabbi Diana Fersko, Senior Rabbi at The Village Temple in New York City. “Usually, posts like this tend to be transactional and material. But blessings, from a Jewish context, are quite the opposite.”

Rather, she says, Jewish blessings are “relational and theological.” That is, “they reflect the connection between people and the connection between people and G-d. They express gratitude for a vast range of human experiences.”

Indeed Jewish blessings exist for everyday essentials (such as Jewish blessings over food and other Jewish daily prayers), as well as for Jewish holidays and milestone events (like Jewish wedding blessings) — and even for ordinary occurrences that are actually extraordinary and miraculous when viewed through the perspective of gratitude (such as seeing a rainbow or a shooting star).

Rabbi Lisa Sacks of Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, NY, says blessings “help us see the wonder in the world that we can easily miss in our busy lives. And they remind us that we are links in the chain of tradition, part of a rich and vibrant heritage.”

She notes that blessings are a crucial aspect of Jewish tradition, “so much so that the sages of our tradition recommend saying 100 per day.” (Sound like a lot? Consider just how many blessings exist for both special and utterly commonplace circumstances.)

Edana Appel, Director of Camp and Family Programs at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, underscores the importance of prayer for Jewish people as not just a way to connect with the divine, but with the entire community — past, present, and future.

“Many American Jews who practice regular prayer would say that it helps them to slow down, to mark moments that might get lost without the prayer associated with it,” she says. “Prayer is also something that allows people to feel connected to the global Jewish community as well as the generations of Jews. A critical part of prayer is about connection to other Jews as opposed to a connection only to the divine.”

Feeling daunted? Start small. “Many Jewish blessings are about showing gratitude for the simple things that are happening around you,” Appel says. “The easiest way to begin incorporating Jewish blessings into everyday life is to start with a practice of gratitude for one or two things like waking up in the morning. Once you have created this practice, you can delve deeper into the words and the meaning.”

(Video) What is the Amidah? The Jewish Standing Prayer

Ahead, find some of the most common and versatile Jewish blessings, as well as some more unique prayers in Judaism to add to your repertoire.

Prayer for waking up in the morning: Modeh Ani

Modeh ah-nee lifanecha, Ru-ach chai v’kayam, she-hechezarta bee nishma-tee b’chemlah rabbah emunatecha.

I thank You, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. Great is Your faithfulness.

Modeh Ani is a blessing we are commanded to say every morning because in the simplest terms, we are thankful for waking up because not everyone wakes up every day,” Appel explains. “Obviously, the words of the blessing have a much more loaded implication, but overall the blessing is trying to help us slow down and show gratitude.”

Blessing over bread: Hamotzi

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Eternal our G-d, Ruler of the universe Who brings forth bread from the earth.

Appel notes that the Hamotzi is a familiar blessing over food, “but if you actually look at the words it is about being thankful that there is grain that comes from the earth,” she says. “It is really not just about stuff coming from the ground but about showing gratitude for all the steps that happen that takes something from the ground to our table — the plants, sun, water, farmers, farmworkers, bakers, chefs, factories, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and all of the other things."

This is among the most common of all Jewish blessings because we eat multiple times a day, of course. And beyond that, Appel says, “the process of saying the blessing has become part of the culture of Jewish preschools, day schools, summer camps, youth groups, et cetera.”

Prayer for lighting candles

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

(Video) How to Say the Jewish Blessing over Children

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to kindle the lights of Shabbat.

“Some of the most popular blessings are those we say on Friday nights as we gather for the Sabbath meal,” Rabbi Sacks explains, such as the ritual lighting of the candles.

Prayer over wine: Kiddush

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, boreh p'ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, G-d, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

“We pray over food and wine to express our gratitude for what we are about to consume,” Rabbi Fersko says. “It reminds us of G-d’s constant presence in our lives even when we are participating in a mundane activity like eating. It’s also a moment of relationship — everyone says the blessings together so the feeling is familial, communal, and joyous.”

Prayer for blessing children

Yevarechecha Adonai veyishmerecha. Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha viyechuneka. Yisa Adonai panav eilecha veyasem lecha shalom.

May G-d bless you and keep you. May G-d shine light on you and be gracious to you. May G-d turn toward you and grant you peace.

“We offer this blessing at a wedding, a bar or bat mitzvah, or at the end of a worship service,” Rabbi Fersko says. “There is something special, spiritual, and just complete to me about this blessing.”

Blessing for a first time: Shehecheyanu

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Haolam, shehechiyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu lazman hazeh.

(Video) Blessings- Turning Gratitude into Holiness, Rabbi Jeff Dreifus 11-25-22

Blessed are you, the Eternal our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this moment.

“It’s a blessing for the first time you do something or just to mark a special moment. It can be used for the first night of a holiday, for the loss of a first tooth, for the arrival of spring, for the first time a child chants from Torah, for traveling to a new place, and for any time you want to mark something new,” Rabbi Fersko explains.

Appel describes this common blessing as “a marker of time and an appreciation for a moment that could only exist in that moment — these people, this day, this hour, this holiday, this celebration.”

Blessing to affirm Jewish faith: Shema

Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.

Hear, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.

“This is considered the quintessential prayer that comes directly from the Torah,” Appel explains. “The words directly reflect the main tenet of Judaism — there is only one G-d. You can say this prayer whenever you want. It is said in every prayer service, you can say it before you go to bed, it can be said literally any time.”

She adds, “It is often the prayer famously said when many individuals were being publicly put to death for being Jewish that they say the Shema as the ultimate act of faith and bravery.”

Prayer after going to the bathroom: Asher Yatzar

Baruch a-tah ah-doe-nai, elohaynu melech ha-olam, ah-share yah-tzar et ha-ah-dam bih-choch-mah, u-varah bo nih-kah-veem nih-kah-veem, chah-loo-leem chah-loo-leem, gah-loy vih-yah-doo-ah lif-nay kee-say kih-voe-deh-chah, she-eem yih-pah-tay-ach eh-chod may-hem, oh yee-sah-tare eh-chod may-hem, ee ef-shahr lih-hit-kah-yem vih-lah-ah-mode lih-fah-neh-chah ah-fee-loo shah-ahh ehh-chot. Baruch a-tah ah-doe-nail, row-fay kole bah-sahr ooh-moff-lee lah-ah-sote.

Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, King of the universe, who formed man with wisdom and created within him many openings and many hollow spaces. It is obvious and known before Your Seat of Honor that if even one of them would be opened, or if even one of them would be sealed, it would be impossible to survive and to stand before You even for one hour. Blessed are You, Adonai, who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.

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“It feels weird to say and I do not think many people know it even exists, but it shows us, once again, how Judaism has a focus on slowing down and showing gratitude for something many of us don't even think about,” Appel says of the rather esoteric recitation. “The blessing forces us to take a moment and be grateful for a body that works and allows us to accomplish the things we do every day."

Jewish Blessings for Everyday Situations and Special Moments, Explained by Rabbis (1)

Alesandra Dubin

Contributing Writer

Alesandra is a digital travel and lifestyle journalist based in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Prevention, Insider, Glamour, Shondaland, AFAR, Parents, TODAY and countless other online and print outlets. Alesandra has a masters degree in journalism with an emphasis on cultural reporting and criticism from NYU, and a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. An avid traveler, she trots the globe with her husband and their twins.

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(Video) Rabbi Dr Lawrence Hoffman - The Spirituality of the Torah:Your Life in Miniature - 26 November 2022

FAQs

What are the 7 Jewish blessings? ›

Blessed is the creation of joy and celebration, lover and beloved, gladness and jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and solidarity, friendship and peace.

What are the daily prayers for Jews? ›

Observant Jews recite the Amidah at each of three daily prayer services in a typical weekday: morning (Shacharit), afternoon (Mincha), and evening (Ma'ariv).

Why do Jews say 100 blessings a day? ›

One fundamental aspect of Judaism is for each of us to approach God's world with a spirit of gratitude and appreciation. Saying a blessing is meant to remind us to approach the world with that spirit. The ideal is to try to say 100 blessings each day, each one for something separate and specific.

What does Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha'olam mean? ›

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam... Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe..."

What are examples of blessings? ›

It's times like these that it's important to remember all the things that are good about life.
...
My Gratitude List
  • My family.
  • My friends.
  • My furry friends.
  • My home.
  • My health.
  • My yoga practice.
  • The sunshine.
  • Air conditioning.

What are the 7 blessings from God? ›

In this book Munsey explains how, not only the Israelites, but believers today—nearly 3,500 years after the day of fasting, prayer, and offering began—can claim the seven specific, supernatural atonement blessings that are promised in Joel 2: • A Double Portion • Financial Abundance • Restoration • Miracles • God's ...

What are the 3 main prayers? ›

The prayer of protection. The prayer of transformation. The prayer of restoration.

What is the most famous prayer in Judaism? ›

Shema Yisrael (Shema Israel or Sh'ma Yisrael; Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל Šəmaʿ Yīsrāʾēl, "Hear, O Israel") is a Jewish prayer (known as the Shema) that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services.

What is the morning Shema? ›

May. 2, 2022. Shema Yisrael, or the Shema, is the central affirmation of Judaism. The prayer expresses belief in the singularity of God, that is, in God's oneness and incomparability. It is traditionally recited twice a day, as part of the morning (Shacharit) and evening (Arvit or Ma'ariv) services.

What do Jews say instead of bless you? ›

Used by religious Jews when speaking of the future and wanting God's help (similar to "God willing"). Meaning "good for you", "way to go", or "more power to you". Often used in synagogue after someone has received an honour. The proper response is "baruch tiheyeh" (m)/brucha teeheyi (f) meaning "you shall be blessed."

What are the 100 blessings a day? ›

There is a Jewish tradition of saying 100 blessings a day. Jews have blessings for practically everything, from lifting sleep from one's eyes, to seeing beautiful objects, to the blessings of nature and for the simplest bodily functions.

Why do Jews say May their memory be a blessing? ›

In Jewish teaching, the proper thing to say about her passing is "May her memory be for blessing." When we say that, the blessing implied is this: it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive. We do this by remembering her, we do this by speaking her name, we do this by carrying on her legacy.

What does Hashkiveinu mean? ›

This is the English translation of Hashkiveinu: Lay us down to sleep in peace, Adonai our God, and raise us up, our leader, to life; spread over us the shelter of your peace. Guide us with your good counsel, and save us for the sake of your name.

What does Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz mean? ›

Hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz

One Possible Translation: Who brings forth bread from the Earth.

What is the full Shema prayer in English? ›

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. And as for you, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Join over 500,000 people who never miss an update on new BibleProject content. ) and prayed these words every morning and every evening.

What are the 5 blessings of life? ›

Chinese culture: five blessings, also known as the "Five Happiness" or "Five Good Fortunes", which refer to longevity, wealth, health and composure, love of virtue, and the desire to die a natural death in old age (or timely death).

What everyday blessings have you experienced that are often easy to forget? ›

DAILY BLESSINGS WE OFTEN FORGET TO BE THANKFUL FOR
  • OUR HEALTH. As we age, our health might deteriorate and we may find ourselves in the doctor's office more often than we did when we were young. ...
  • GOOD RELATIONSHIPS. ...
  • SALVATION. ...
  • COMPANIONSHIP. ...
  • STABLE FINANCES. ...
  • CREATION.
25 Nov 2019

How you can live a life in moments of blessings? ›

You can live a blessed life by pursuing Christ (Ephesians 1:3). You can live a blessed life by being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer (James 1:22). You can live a blessed life by contemplating the lavishness of God's grace (Romans 4:8).

What are the five rewards in heaven? ›

Contents
  • Crown of Life.
  • Incorruptible Crown.
  • Crown of Righteousness.
  • Crown of Glory.
  • Crown of Rejoicing.

What is a true blessing from God? ›

A blessing from God marks an intimate relationship between God and man, serving as proof that he finds himself in God's favor.

What are physical blessings? ›

God's physical blessings include the food that sustains our physical bodies. Suppose that one has an abundance of food available to him but refuses to eat it. A prolonged refusal to receive God's blessing of food will result in starvation and death.

What is a good prayer to say everyday? ›

Lord, I give you all that I am this day. Please brush away my weariness, so that I may be inspired in my work. Help me to discover new ways to reveal your love to all I meet. Keep my mind clear and focused on all I need to achieve, and give me the wisdom to overcome difficulties and find solutions.

What is the most powerful prayer in the Bible? ›

The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): “'Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

What is the most important thing to pray for? ›

Perhaps the most important thing to pray every day is for God's will to be done in your life. Imagine if every believer prayed this (and meant it) and sought to accomplish God's purpose for that day. This would alleviate many of the issues I mentioned earlier because we would be centered in on what God wants us to do.

What are the two most important prayers in Judaism? ›

The Shema and the Amidah are the two main prayers that Jews are likely to use.

What do Jews say before eating? ›

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha–olam ha-motz-i lechem min ha'ar-etz. Blessed is the Oneness that makes us holy and brings forth bread from the earth.

What does Shema mean in English? ›

Shema in American English

(ʃəˈmɑ ) noun. a declaration of the basic principle of Jewish belief, proclaiming the absolute unity of God.

Why is the Amidah important? ›

The Amidah is a prayer that is central to Jewish worship. It is performed standing and in silence while facing Jerusalem. It is sometimes called the Standing Prayer. Worshippers think over the words in their minds rather than saying them out loud.

What do Jews reply to Shalom? ›

The appropriate response is aleichem shalom ("unto you peace") (Hebrew: עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם).

How do Jews say peace? ›

Shalom. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom which is derived from one of the names of God.

Can Jews say God bless you? ›

The phrase has been used in the Hebrew Bible by Jews (cf. Numbers 6:24), and by Christians, since the time of the early Church as a benediction, as well as a means of bidding a person Godspeed.

What are blessings in Judaism? ›

Rather, she says, Jewish blessings are “relational and theological.” That is, “they reflect the connection between people and the connection between people and G-d. They express gratitude for a vast range of human experiences.”

What is a great blessing quote? ›

Quotes About Being Blessed
  • “Every day I feel is a blessing from God. ...
  • “Life is not always easy to live, but the opportunity to do so is a blessing beyond comprehension. ...
  • “My life has been a blessing. ...
  • “You never know where a blessing can come from.” –
24 Jul 2019

What is a blessing in life? ›

If you say you've been blessed, you feel lucky to have something: health, love, fame, fortune, talent, etc. It's a special favor, mercy, or benefit: the blessings of liberty. It's a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness. It's the invoking of God's favor upon a person.

Why do Jews cover the mirrors when someone dies? ›

Covering Mirrors

Mirrors are also covered as a way to remind us the observation of shiva is not about ourselves but rather a time to concentrate on the deceased. The concept of vanity is shunned as this is considered a time of self-reflection, to concentrate on one's inner self and not outward appearances.

Why do Jews bounce when they pray? ›

According to the mystical text Zohar, a person's soul emanates from divine light. Every time a Jew engages with the Torah, the light of his or her soul ignites, which is why he or she moves like the flame of a candle.

Why do Jews lift the chair? ›

It's a way for the guests to express their joy about the person being celebrated.

What does refuah Shelema mean? ›

As a community, we pray for those in need of healing. May they be granted a refuah shlemah - a complete and speedy recovery. Here at Scheck Hillel Community School, they are in our prayers, thoughts and hearts.

What is Mitzvas ONAH? ›

The term "mitzvat onah" (a mitzvah performed at a set time period) refers to a husband's conjugal obligations toward his wife and is also used as a halachic euphemism for marital relations.

Why do we say aleinu? ›

Use in the synagogue

Aleinu is recited with all the congregants standing. One reason for this is noble sentiments are expressed, but also that the first and last letters of the prayer spell עד—"witness"—and it is appropriate for a witness to stand when testifying.

What is the challah blessing? ›

The blessing recited over bread is called “Motzi.” In some traditions just the person reciting the prayer holds the loaf, or two loaves held together. In other traditions everyone present touches the challah, or touches someone who is touching the challah, as the prayer is said or sung.

Why do we dip bread in salt on Shabbat? ›

Mishnah Berurah (167:27) explains that dipping in salt or condiments makes the first bite tasty and adds honor to the beracha. The Shulchan Aruch concludes that if the bread is tasty as is, condiments are not required.

What is Hebrew Shewbread? ›

Showbread (Hebrew: לחם הפנים Leḥem haPānīm, literally: "Bread of the Faces"), in the King James Version: shewbread, in a biblical or Jewish context, refers to the cakes or loaves of bread which were always present, on a specially-dedicated table, in the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to God.

What is the oldest prayer in Judaism? ›

Development of the prayer text

The earliest parts of Jewish prayer are the Shema Yisrael and the Priestly Blessing, which are in the Torah.

What does Shema mean in Hebrew? ›

Shema, in the simplest terms, means 'to hear'. The Hebrew word pronunciation sounds more like “sh'-mah”. But it also means to obey and take action. So, to hear God is to obey God—and to obey God is to hear God.

Why is the number 7 important to Jews? ›

The number seven is said to symbolize completion, association with God, or the covenant of holiness and sanctification.

Who says 7 blessings at a wedding? ›

The seven blessings, or Sheva Brachot as they are called in Hebrew, are the heart of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Seven different blessings are bestowed upon the couple when they are standing under the chuppah. They may be given by the officiant, the rabbi or the cantor, or friends and family members.

What is the Shema blessing? ›

May. 2, 2022. Shema Yisrael, or the Shema, is the central affirmation of Judaism. The prayer expresses belief in the singularity of God, that is, in God's oneness and incomparability. It is traditionally recited twice a day, as part of the morning (Shacharit) and evening (Arvit or Ma'ariv) services.

What are the 10 sayings in Judaism? ›

They are:
  • Do not have any other gods.
  • Do not make or worship idols.
  • Do not disrespect or misuse God's name.
  • Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
  • Honour your mother and father.
  • Do not commit murder.
  • Do not commit adultery.
  • Do not steal.

What does 40 mean in Judaism? ›

Judaism. In the Hebrew Bible, forty is often used for time periods, forty days or forty years, which separate "two distinct epochs". Rain fell for "forty days and forty nights" during the Flood (Genesis 7:4).

What does 36 mean in Judaism? ›

The number 36 is twice 18. In gematria (a form of Jewish numerology), the number 18 stands for "life", because the Hebrew letters that spell chai, meaning "living", add up to 18. Because 36 = 2×18, it represents "two lives".

What does 18 mean to Jews? ›

As a result, 18 is a popular number that represents good luck. At weddings, bar mitzvahs, and when making honorary donations, Jews often give gifts of money in multiples of 18, symbolically giving the recipient the gift of “life” or luck.

What is God's wedding gift? ›

The Gift of Passion

Solomon portrays the profound preciousness of love—its beauty, delights and overwhelming power, and says all that one possesses cannot purchase such love— it is God's gift to us, manifested in its fullest form in our marital unions, and is both passionate and companionate.

What is the difference between wedding and marriage blessing? ›

The key difference between a wedding and a blessing is you don't get married. A blessing ceremony is an additional part of a wedding, rather than a wedding itself and is designed for couples that don't get married in a Church or have a faith-based ceremony.

Why does the bride walk around 7 times? ›

Circling. In the Ashkenazi tradition, the bride traditionally circles around her groom either three or seven times under the chuppah. Some people believe this is to create a magical wall of protection from evil spirits, temptation, and the glances of other women.

What does Eloheinu mean? ›

Eloheinu: the plural 1st person possessive of אֱלֹהִים‎ Elohim, meaning "our God". Echad: the unified and cardinal number One אֶחָד‎ This first verse of the Shema relates to the kingship of God.

What does mi Chamocha mean? ›

Literally, “Who is like You?” Verses from Exodus 15:11 that are incorporated into the prayer service. These verses are an excerpt from the song that the biblical Israelites sang after crossing the Sea of Reeds to safety.

What are the 3 key moral principles in Judaism? ›

Key moral principles including justice, healing the world, charity and kindness to others. The importance of the sanctity of human life, including the concept of 'saving a life' (Pikuach Nefesh).

What are the 3 sacred texts of Judaism? ›

Judaism: sacred texts

We explore what it means to be Jewish today through some of Judaism's most important sacred texts including the Torah, the Talmud, and the Haggadah.

What are the 5 rules of Judaism? ›

The Ten Commandments – Judaism
  • You shall have no other gods but me.
  • You shall not make or worship any idols.
  • You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  • You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
  • Respect your father and mother.
  • You must not murder.
  • You must not take someone else's husband or wife.

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