Tefillah Tips - Birchot HaShachar III

In the famous work of Rabbeinu Bachya, The Chovos Halevovos, there is a section which discusses how people often do not appreciate how good their lives really are. He explains the matter with with the following metaphor: If someone would rescue a baby from the wild jungle and nurture, raise, protect, and educate the child; the youngster would eventually grow to expect the "good life" he has been treated to. However, if this same person would redeem an adult hostage from captivity and offer him even a fraction of the amenities he gives the child, the freed prisoner would be openly indebted to him forever.

We all need to ask ourselves whether we are more like the child who takes it all for granted or like the thankful hostage who saw no future and was miraculously saved.

Until we G-d forbid face stressful challenges that threaten the quality of our lives, most of us take our blessings for granted. This is specifically why our sages have instructed us to recite blessings on the seemingly more mundane aspects of life.

"Pokayach Ivrim- G-d opens our eyes (in the morning)" and "Malbish Arumim- He clothes the naked (as we get dressed)" are the next two Brachot in our morning prayers.

Despite the fact that we know there are many people in the world who can't see, we rarely take the time to acknowledge our privilege to do so. We are also are aware that there are many families in many communities near and far, Jewish and non Jewish who cannot afford to buy appropriate clothing for their families. Saying "Malbish Arumim-He who clothes the naked" allows us to focus and appreciate ones capability to do so.

Of course there are deeper implications of the blessings as well. The Radak in Tehillim remarks that Pokayach Ivrim means more than awarding sight. It also can be understood to be thanking G-d for relief from the darkness of anguish (physical, mental, emotional...). We thank Hashem every day for allowing us to discover insight(s) to be able to function and deal with our everyday challenges even when we are feeling confused and less directed. He is the Pokayach Ivrim-He gives us sight as well as the capacity for insights that help us build and rebuild our lives.

Rav Shimon Schwab zt"l remarks in his book on Prayer that in addition to thanking G-d for our clothing, saying Malbish Arumim alludes to our superiority over animals. Every human being contains an animalistic nature which is called the Nefesh Habahami. One of our tasks in life is to rise above this nature and behave with the human dignity that the Torah prescribes. When we do achieve a higher level, in essence we are clothing our nakedness, our spiritual nakedness.

Although the deeper implications of these two blessings are fascinating and stimulating, the simple meanings are vital and should not be overlooked and unappreciated. We must work diligently on becoming more genuinely grateful for the hundreds, if not thousands, of gifts we receive daily from our Creator. Let's start with our vision and our wardrobe.