Blessings for all

Jews love blessings. We bless our food, our weather, and our new clothes-nearly everything. Why then do we not have a blessing for planting? Today at camp, we began planting our garden. Campers were able to dig their hands—too often used for texting and videogames— into rich soil. They planted tomatoes, brussel sprouts, sweet peppers, basil, cabbage, and kohlrabi, but before we put these life-sustaining plants into the ground, we took a step back to surround our actions with consciousness and purpose.

I had all the campers write their own blessings for planting, our garden, and the earth. The prayers children, aged seven to thirteen produced were beautiful, on par with King David’s psalms, and full of hope. The extreme diversity of requests, thanks, and praises made me realize why there is no uniform blessing for planting, it would be too normal. In his work Conscious Community, Rabbi Kalyonymus Kalman Shapira critiques those who live on the level of the mundane, satisfied with repetition without challenge. The blessings we recite day in and day out become normal, unimportant. Planting, enabling another organism to live and to perpetuate life, is a holy activity that must not be relegated to the realm of the mundane.

The transformation of a space that was one minute barren and the next full of purples, greens, yellows and reds, proves that the Devine is everywhere, that it is our responsibility to bring holiness to places where it has been neglected, or disregarded. As we approach the holy Shabbat, let us begin to see the whole world as a garden, full of potential, life and holiness. Any spot that is devoid of visible beauty is simply a garden waiting to be planted, not an area forgotten by G!d.

1 Reply to "Blessings for all"

  • James Kahn
    August 9, 2011 (12:48 pm)

    Great post Jesse! A thought inspired by your question, ‘Why no blessing for planting?’: The root of the Hebrew word for blessing (bracha) is Beit-Reish-Kaf, meaning “knee,” which referes to the practice of bowing (bending your knees). When we bless something we are symbollically ‘bowing’ to its source (G!D), showing reverance, appreciation and awe. When we plant something we also bend our knees and if paying attention, appreciate the awesome reality that all food begins life as a tiny seed, hungry for sun and water. It hit me reading your words that gardening, planting, and farming are bowing practices, types of blelssings in motion. The Hebrew, bracha, teaches that dual meaning of a blessing – part speech and part action. So perhaps your conscious planting is a blessing in need of no words. Just a thought…

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