Day 40, May 25: The Hod in Yesod

Jewish tradition provides a blessing for nearly every human experience. There are birkot ha-nehenin, blessings of enjoyment, for occasions when we partake of the delights of the senses. There are birkot mitzvah, for when we perform a sacred, Jewish act, such as lighting Shabbat candles. And there are birkot hoda'ah, for expressing gratitude for our blessings.


One of the most beautiful of these, IMHO, is Asher Yatzar. It's part of the morning service, and also became the blessing for going to the bathroom! (And if that seems an odd thing to bless, consider the trials of someone on kidney dialysis.)

The lovely phrase, נְקָבִים נְקָבִים, חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים, nikavim nikavim, chalulim chalulim -- "a multitude of cavities and passages" -- expresses wonder at the "finely balanced network" (as the Reform siddur puts it) of internal organs and bodily processes that keeps us alive.

How many times have you blinked, hydrating your corneas, while you've read this?
How much blood have your kidneys filtered?
How many heartbeats have pumped nutrition and oxygen to every corner of your body?
How much cell division activity has renewed the very stuff of your physicality?

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz suggests that we consider these things on this day of the Omer, when we turn to the Hod (Glory/Reverberation/Multiplicity) in Yesod (Foundation). So often, we take the "finely balanced network" of our bodily systems for granted... at least until one of them fails or goes out of balance. This 40th day of the Omer, let us consider them in gratitude and joy.

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