by Rabbi Heidi Cohen
We sit down to eat a meal and our blessing is but one line. Short, simple, and allowing us to eat as soon as possible. Following our meal, our body satisfied, we bentch, or recite Birkat HaMazon, the blessing following our meal, giving thanks for all of our sustenance and blessings of life and our world.
The full Birkat HaMazon is long, can take up to five minutes if one really joins in all of the versus and complex tunes. There are shorter versions such as the ones our children recite at camp, downloadable here.
Why such a long blessing after we eat?
In this week’s parashah, Eikev, we read how Moses reminds the Israelites that God brings them into “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills. A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey; A land where you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
And “When you have eaten your fill you shall give thanks to God.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)
This reminder to the Israelites is so they should never forget who blessed them with a good land and sustenance. To remember their journey and not “forget God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery;” (Deuteronomy 8:14)
Life is hectic and it’s easy to not take moments for blessings. Sometimes we are caught up in the mundane that we forget the holy. But each moment is worthy of praise and remembrance and lest we should forget, we should seize these moments.
Whether it is the words of birkat hamazon, or just taking moments for gratitude, being thankful for what we have, we yearn to connect and remember. God told us to remember, remember the journey that is our life and remember to find the moments to bless. Allow the words to either be of blessings provided or the blessings on our lips and in our hearts.