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12 Blessings You May Not Know Exist

12 Blessings You May Not Know Exist


When we recite a blessing prior to eating, we acknowledge that the earth and all living things belong to G‑d, and that G‑d is the source of all sustenance. Reciting a blessing allows us to infuse a seemingly mundane activity with holiness. We recite blessings on many different occasions—some of them ordinary, and others rare and extraordinary. By learning about them, you’ll be able to express gratitude to G‑d the next time you experience any of the events below.

1. Over the Rainbow . . .

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who remembers the Covenant, is faithful to His Covenant, and keeps His promise.

When a person notices a rainbow, he or she recites this blessing. It’s a special reminder that just like the times of Noah, we can correct our ways.

2. When the World Shakes . . .

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, whose power and might fill the world.

Thunder, tornadoes and earthquakes are examples of G‑d’s awesome power. By reciting this blessing, we acknowledge that they are indeed G‑dly acts and an expression of the power of our Creator.

3. Seeing Lightning or Shooting Stars

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who re-enacts the work of creation.

One recites this blessing upon seeing lightning (the first time during a storm), a shooting star, comet, earthquake, volcano, tornado, hurricane, ocean or mountain (for the first time in 30 days).

4. When We Do Something for the First Time That Year

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

This blessing, the Shehecheyanu, is recited prior to doing a mitzvah or something joyful for the first time in a given year. It is also recited prior to (or afterwards, according to some customs) eating a seasonal fruit such as a fresh fig, date or pomegranate for the first time it came into season each year. This common blessing is also recited on many festivals.


5. For Good News About Ourselves and Others

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who is good and does good.

By reciting this blessing when we hear good news concerning both ourselves and others, we are able to thank G‑d for every detail of our lives—from the ordinary to the most extraordinary.

6. When We Hear Bad News (G‑d Forbid)

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, the true judge.

One recites this blessing upon hearing bad news—for example, the demise of a friend or well-known person—or if one personally witnesses bad news.

7. Spicing Up Our Lives

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who creates various kinds of spices.

You may be familiar with this blessing because of its presence in the Havdalah ceremony, which marks the end of Shabbat and the return to the ordinary week. Why do we say this blessing prior to smelling besamim—fragrant fruit or spices? According to the teachings of Kabbalah, the soul is affected by only one of our senses: the sense of smell. Thus, smelling fragrant spices comforts the soul as it makes the difficult transition from the holy Shabbat to the regular week. During Havdalah, we traditionally use cloves and say this blessing. During the ordinary week, we differentiate between various pleasant scents with blessings that include “Boray atzay besamim,” “Boray isbay besamim ” and “Hanoten Rey'ach tov bapayrot.”

8. The One for Wine (or Grape Juice)

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Wait, why is this famous blessing on the list? Isn't it this blessing said every week as part of Kiddush and Havdalah? Yes, but not everyone knows that we make this blessing every time we drink wine, even when it is not for ritual purposes. Grape wine is unique among fruit juices. Whereas the juices of other fruits warrant the general Shehakol blessing, the juice of the grape gets its very own special blessing. This is because, as King David says, "it gladdens the heart of G‑d and man." It was not by accident that this special drink was chosen to be poured on the Temple altar and become so central to so many Jewish rituals.

9. A Sigh of Relief (After Escaping From Danger)

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, Who bestows kindness upon the culpable, for He has bestowed goodness to me.

Upon hearing the blessing, respond Amen, followed by: May He who has bestowed beneficence upon you always bestow every beneficence upon you.

The reasons to thank G‑d for his kindness are broken up into four categories: crossing the ocean (including via a flight); crossing the desert (which includes all life-threatening situations, such as a car accident or burglary); recovering from a serious illness; and being released from prison. One should also say this blessing upon reaching a desired destination safely after traveling through a desert, overseas or via plane. This blessing should be said in the presence of a minyan (a public prayer forum of 10 Jewish men).

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10. Remembering: ‘Isn’t Spring Wonderful?’

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, Who has made nothing lacking in His world, and created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees to give humankind pleasure.

This blessing is said only one time a year, upon seeing blossoming fruit trees for the first time during the month of Nissan. It is best to say this blessing upon seeing two trees, but it is permissible to say it upon seeing one.

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11. The Blessing We Say Only Once Every 28 Years

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who re-enacts the work of creation.

Once every 28 years, the sun returns to the position that it was in at the moment when it was created, on the fourth day of creation. Thus, we say a special blessing to mark this rare event, acknowledging that the sun allows for the existence of life on Earth. Its rays shine upon us every single day, allowing plants to grow and producing the very air we breathe.

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12. Upon Exiting the Restroom

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has formed man in wisdom, and created within him numerous orifices and cavities. It is revealed and known, before the Throne of Your Glory that if but one of them were to be blocked or one of them were to be opened, it would be impossible to exist for even a short while. Blessed are You, L-rd, who heals all flesh and performs wonders.

By saying this blessing, we thank G‑d for allowing our bodies to function properly.

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Dina Zirkind received her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She enjoys combining her interest in journalism with her passion for sharing Jewish wisdom. Dina currently lives on the Upper West Side in Manhattan with her husband.
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Anonymous August 7, 2017

I thought for sure Ha'tov Ve'ha'meitiv would have made the list?? Reply

Anonymous Los angeles August 15, 2017

I am a Jewish woman. I was newer shown or taught the Jewish path. I am trying to find my way. I am a Jewish woman all the way. I love the Lo-rd my G-d.
I love all the above blessings. I pray to find my way.
Thank you.

L. Lehtinen-Robinson III Reply

Michelle england uk August 12, 2017

fascinating. thankyou ! Reply

Rahel Sherman Branchport August 11, 2017

Thank you..this is a visually beautiful article and is encouraging me to memorize the berachot I do not know yet. You have increased the berachot in the world :) Reply

Marco Montreal August 9, 2017

How blessed are the blessed It is blessing to be made aware how blessed we are! How our G*d is a living force who oversees everything we do!!! Reply

Nathaniel Sam George Adoor August 8, 2017

Two of them are Havdalah Blessings! They're very common. Reply

Anonymous Vancouver, B.C. August 9, 2017
in response to Nathaniel Sam George:

Your comment sounds snarky. Reply

Anonymous August 12, 2017
in response to Nathaniel Sam George:

. . . and blessed be, that they are so common. Reply

Nathaniel Sam George August 9, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I didn't mean to be snarky, just said that it is a common blessing. Reply

Anonymous Vancouver, B.C. August 14, 2017
in response to Nathaniel Sam George:

I was just so touched by the sweetness and hopefulness of the ideas in the article- and I was transported to the possibility of a kinder, softer World.-Then I read your comment. KLUNK- back to the Real World and the internet where people are so often mean and rude!! It felt like you were being a know-it-all and criticizing the Writer. Sorry if I got it wrong? Boy, even simple things are so complicated these days, eh? Reply