Birchot Hashachar IV
Blessing #9 that we say every morning is “רוקע הארץ על המים- He who spreads out the earth upon the waters”.
We live in an age of earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis. A month or two does not pass by without hearing of atmospheric disasters that impact the lives of hundreds and/or thousands of people all over the world. Since we do not personally experience these tragedies daily or even weekly, thank G-d, we take the ground that we walk on for granted. This blessing reminds us not to take the earth under our feet for granted; it too is a blessing: G-d is the “רוקע הארץ על המים – He who spreads out the earth upon the waters”.
The commentators on the Siddur express the wonder of the divine management of the ocean waves that usually remain within the general boundaries of the high and low tide as they approach dry land. It is one of the many examples cited in the High Holiday liturgy that depicts G-d’s grandeur and fingerprints (so to speak) on the universe.
The Western World refers to hurricanes, earthquakes and ocean tides simply as nature. It’s interesting though that when a natural calamity occurs, the insurance companies call it An Act of G-d. When we think about it deeply, “nature” is even more miraculous then a miracle because miracles are only one time events; and “nature” is the ongoing measurable phenomena that occur every day with reliable perfection. Now that is truly miraculous.
When we go to sleep at night we are confident that we will awaken in the morning, open our eyes, put on our clothes and stand on secure ground as we progress through our day. 1) It is not abundantly clear that all those gifts will be available, and 2) When we do experience these blessings of life, we must not take them for granted. We must acknowledge and express appreciation to Hashem for all that we experience – “רוקע הארץ על המים – He who spreads out the earth upon the waters”.
Take Home Tip: Let’s aim to be thankful not only for the overt blessings we experience, but also for the tangential and subsidiary blessings as well. Don’t just notice the fine tasting and looking food you have been served, take note of the cutlery, the plates, the tablecloth and the chairs. Reciting blessings with proper intent increases our awareness and thereby gratitude for the divine gifts we enjoy each day.
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey for Tefillah Tips
Orthodox Union Department of Community Services
Frank Buchweitz, National Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Associate
Adina Tabak, Administrative Assistant
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