Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Shoftim) The Big Eraser!

Once, during King David’s rule over the Land of Israel, a strange pattern developed; each day, exactly 100 Jewish people died.

This disturbed King David and he realized that he was being sent a Heavenly message. Through his gift of Divine spirit and inspiration, King David perceived that the reason for these deaths was because the Jews were lax in appreciating all the gifts they received from the Almighty, and were therefore careless about reciting blessings before and after they enjoyed their G-dly gifts.

Immediately King David enacted that each person must recite 100 blessings a day - to offset the100 deaths - and the series of deaths came to a sudden halt.

This law, that we are required to recite 100 blessings each day is mentioned in the Talmud.

Commentators examined our daily prayers, eating patterns, and bodily functions, and concluded that if one follows our daily blessing schedule he can easily fulfill the100 blessing requirement.

If one looks through our Siddur - prayer book - one will immediately realize that we recite blessings upon just about every function of life. In all probability these functions would be taken for granted were they not part of our daily prayers.

There are blessings we recite before and after we enjoy the gift of food, and there are blessings we recite before smelling certain aromatic scents and upon seeing lightning and hearing thunder. And there are blessings that we recite for having the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah, such as lighting Shabbos/Yom Tov candles, affixing a Mezuza, and putting on Tefilin.

Since we are currently in the reflective month of Elul when we give thought and attention to the upcoming High Holy Days, an interesting question came to my attention. Why don’t we recite a blessing over the Mitzvah of repentance?

I came across a few answers: We do not recite a blessing over certain Mitzvos, for example giving Tzadakah. One reason no blessing is recited prior to giving Tzadakah, is because it is dependant upon someone else accepting it, and since we are unsure if they will accept the alms, a blessing is not recited for it may be uttered in vain.

The same idea applies concerning repentance to a friend. If one apologizes to someone, since it is unclear if the person will accept his apology a blessing is not recited.

The same reasoning can be applied to our repentance to G-d. Since it is dependant on G-d’s acceptance a blessing cannot be recited.

You may ask, if one repents to G-d, is it possible that G-d won’t accept it?

True repentance is based on the feelings within the person; remorse, regret and acceptance not to repeat the sin in the future. Since repentance is regulated in a person’s heart and mind, and only G-d knows the level of sincerity or insincerity of one’s heart, a blessing is not recited for perhaps his repentance may not be fully up to standard to G-d.

Another answer I came across is that since one only goes through the repentance process if they sinned, not living up to G-d’s expectations, the Mitzvah of Repentance is an outgrowth of sin and as such it is inappropriate to recite a blessing on it.

The truth is that there are two blessing that we recite three times daily in reference to repentance. They appear within the nineteen blessings of the Amidah – quiet devotion. They are, “You are the source of all blessing – G-d, ‘who desires repentance,’ and “the gracious One Who abundantly forgives.’

Given, we do not recite a blessing of repentance over a particular sin we have transgressed; however, we recite blessings of gratitude that G-d craves our repentance and is liberal in His forgiveness!

These blessings encourage us to embrace the “big eraser” – the special Heavenly gift of Teshuvah – repentance.

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks