Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Morning Revelation

Among the other brachot offered during the shacharit (morning t'fillah) we find one that is about the creation of light and darkness. The text reads "Blessed are You God Master [king] of the universe, who forms light and creates darkness, makes peace, and creates all."

I have long been confused as to the placement of this blessing. I know there is a blessing later on about God as the fashioner of light, however this blessing seems to be about creation itself, while the other is more about messianic redemption. As part of birkot hashachar, we thank God for a number of aspects of our lives, and it would seem that this blessing might fit better if it was located earlier in the t'fillot. According to Sefer Abudraham, the bracha fits perfectly given what follows. Furthermore, the Abudraham locates a versein Isaiah (45:7), where a similar formulation is found (although the siddur edits the verse). Given both the scriptural reference, and its place between the Barchu and shma, and the Abudraham's explanation, I can begin to understand the bracha's placement. We have just declared that God will be praised forever, it is followed with a blessing touting the universal accomplishments of creation, before the siddur leads us to the Judeo-centric declaration of Shma.

Even after taking this closer look, I was still slightly unsatisfied...until this morning. The day began in Jerusalem with a thick cover of clouds and fog. Although there was light, there was very little direct sunlight to be found. After saying Barchu, I glanced out the window while reciting yotzeir or (the name of this blessing), and the sun broke through. I am sure many of us have witnessed sunrises in dramatic locations, but none of my sunrise experiences were directly tied to the recitation of this bracha. With the reading of the verse in Isaiah, internal siddur geography, this morning's experience, and Abudraham's help, that I am not only comfortable with this bracha and its placement, but also confident enough to say that I experienced a morning revelation vis a vis yotzeir or.


Anonymous said...

this is one of my favorite brachot! there is a great song by the YU Maccabeats that sings this and connects it with 'ma rabu ma'asecha hashem' and that reminds me of these upcoming words, and the beautiful song by 'blue fringe' called 'kacha lo' featuring the 'ma rabu ma'asecha hashem.' i love to sing these words when i get to them.
what's the verse in isaiah?
isn't it 'avudraham' with a 'v'?
what' is the avudraham's connection, you didn't really specify how he connects the isaiah verse with the bridge between barchu and shma?

Daniel said...

If you click on the word "verse" it will link you to Mechon Mamre where you can see the verse in question.
Abudraham, can be spelled with either letter, as it's transliteration.
As I understood it, there's no direct connection between the verse and the Shma. However, if you look at how the brachot preceding the shma are structured, it makes sense to have a blessing about the creation of light at that point. The bracha happens to mirror the Isaiah pasuk, with a severe edit by the siddur redactors.