This morning as I drove to the gym I put the radio on and really enjoyed listening to the rock music. I thought to myself how I could have said some morning blessings but I particularly liked the song that was on the radio and I really wanted to listen to it. I pondered how listening to the song on the radio engaged my physical self while saying morning blessings would be engaging my spiritual self.
On my way back from the gym I decided to say my morning blessings and I had the following thought: We are supposed to acknowledge that God is the creator and have deep intention (“Kavanah” in Hebrew) when we say each blessing. This has always been a challenge for me. I feel like I don’t have time to focus on each blessing—not to mention growing up it was a question of whether my peers and I would even recite these blessings in the first place.
According to the Talmud there is merit in reciting 100 blessings a day. This is enticing in our achievement-oriented world! But I don’t think the rabbis intended that we give up quality for quantity. I think if they were around today they would say: First focus on your focus ;)—your ability to really connect to the words you are saying, to create within yourself—within your soul—an opening toward G-d. Then, AND ONLY THEN, begin to increase the number of blessings you say per day. At least, that is what I imagine/hope the rabbis would say. After all, the Talmud was written 2,000 years ago, not in today’s modern world. Then again, in the years since its compilation, there have been rabbis discussing the Talmud and applying it to the ever-changing world.
I really think we need to consider mastering mindful living before we invest too much in developing other skills. Once we attain mindful living, we can then add on and further the complexity. But before? I think we lose most of the meaning behind it all.