May 22, 2024
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Infusing Your Soul With Blessings

Rav Aryeh Leib Shteinman’s daily diet was as unique as it was simple: porridge. That’s it. Breakfast, lunch and supper—except Shabbos and Yom Tov. For 70 years…porridge! Personally, I’m crazy for Buffalo wings, but after 2-3 days I’ve had enough.

Why was the diet of Rav Shteinman significant?

The pasuk says Hashem sustained the Jewish nation for their 40 years in the desert with mun to make us aware that bread alone does not sustain man, but rather whatever motza pi Hashem (whatever emanates from the mouth of Hashem).

What does motza pi Hashem really mean?

The Ibn Ezra explains that when we eat, our body receives nutritional benefits from the foods we ingest. That’s the physical. But what sustains our soul? Eating kosher food sustains our neshama (soul). Just as the Bnei Yisrael ate mun, which is a spiritual food, we also need spiritual nourishment from the food we eat. Mun had the ability to nourish both the soul and the body. It’s a tremendous miracle that Hashem makes regular food that we eat have the ability to sustain both our body and our soul. That is what motza pi Hashem means—Hashem decreed this power to food.

The Pardes Yosef quotes the Arizal who explains it is the bracha we recite on the food that unleashes its ability to sustain us spiritually. Every time we recite a borei pri haetz on a fruit, it is giving the fruit the ability to nourish our neshama. That is motza pi Hashem.

Our neshama needs to eat! Without saying brachos on food, it is starving!

Later in Parshas Ekev, Moshe tells the Bnei Yisrael, “What does Hashem ask from you—just to fear Him.”

The Gemara says Dovid Hamelech instituted a mitzvah to recite 100 brachos daily. Dovid did this in order to ward off a plague that had swept across the nation. The antidote was to recite 100 brachos daily. He derived this from the words “mah Hashem elokecha shoel mimach”—what does Hashem ask of you? Instead of pronouncing it mah, pronounce it meah—100—Hashem wants you to recite 100 brachos.

What is so powerful about reciting brachos?

The word bracha means blessing. The Rashba says the root of the word bracha is breicha, a flow of water. Rav Chaim Volozhin explains that a bracha causes a flow of abundance from Hashem. It is like opening the faucet. Rav Shteinman did not need much in physical nutrition; his blessings sustained his body almost like the mun. For the rest of us who don’t eat porridge three times a day, the bracha we recite is what opens up a reservoir of blessing and nutrition.

Rabbi Pinchas Noveseller gave a shiur for our community at the onset of the COVID pandemic and quoted the halacha to recite 100 brachos daily and how it can help ward off a plague. He told a story of the Chasam Sofer, who would be so engrossed in giving his post-Shacharis shiur, he would forget to eat breakfast. His wife caught on and would send breakfast with a boy to the shiur, with a message that the rav’s wife said he should eat now. One day, the boy had no food of his own, felt truly hungry, and succumbed: He ate the Chasam Sofer’s pastry. The next day the Chasam Sofer asked the boy about yesterday’s breakfast. The boy was so embarrassed and begged forgiveness. “How did the rebbi know?” he asked. “I figured the rebbi wouldn’t even realize he missed breakfast!” The Chasam Sofer replied, “You are correct. I forgot about eating. But in the afternoon I realized I was missing a couple of brachos. I was missing my borei mini mezonos and al hamichya, so I realized I hadn’t eaten my breakfast. I didn’t notice the food, but I did notice I missed the brachos!”

Personally, if I miss breakfast, I definitely realize I’m hungry and find it very difficult to concentrate. Yet, there are times I get so preoccupied, I do remember eating, but I’m unsure if I made a bracha before or after I ate.

A friend of mine told me a helpful practice: Don’t get up from the meal until after the blessing.

Let’s be mindful to provide the spiritual nourishment our neshama needs from the food we eat. We can bring an abundance of bracha into our lives with our 100 blessings daily. We daven that this practice may ward off all plagues from our midst.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. PTI has attracted people from all over northern New Jersey, including Teaneck, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Livingston and West Orange. He initiated and leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. He has spread out beyond PTI to begin a weekly beis medrash program with in-depth chavrusa learning in Livingston, Fort Lee and a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its full offering of torah classes visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

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