Recently, apropos of something else, my Rabbi mentioned that there is a custom in Jewish life to try and say one hundred blessings a day. Of course, I had to look this up right away. Despite a childhood in Jewish day schools, I had never heard of this one – which means nothing, really, because there’s too much for any one person to learn in a lifetime, let alone in elementary or high school.
There are text-based reasons for the choice of one hundred as the magical number of blessings, but that’s not what interested me. I tend to think you can find text based excuses for anything if you try hard enough. But the idea of one hundred blessings sounds whole and beautiful and challenging enough to encourage the kind of gratitude Oprah used to talk about with her gratitude journals. Saying a blessing is more than just gratitude, it’s a way to make yourself aware of the world around you.
The more Orthodox websites said that you could meet your hundred blessings a day quota simply by saying the three set prayer services (morning, afternoon, and evening prayers), plus blessings over meals and handwashing, and you’re golden. But, what if you are a liberal Jew and not up to praying three times a day? Can you still reach an adequate blessing count?
I feel too resentful saying many of the blessings in Hebrew, especially in the formal language of the prayer book, but what if I could make up my own blessings, about the many things that really do jar me from the mundane into the extraordinary every day?
If you are somewhat compulsive in the handwashing arena, you could knock off dozens of blessings a day on that. You could get a lot of blessings in by hanging out with a friend who has allergies and saying Gezuntheit (God Bless You) every time she sneezes. You could eat many small meals a day, to have the chance to say blessings over food over and over again: Thank you God for this Jelly bean that I am about to eat; Thank you God for this piece of chocolate that has saved me from yelling at strangers in the parking lot.
How about: Thank you God for this medication that lowers my blood pressure and keeps my heart pumping; or, Thank you God for this crossword puzzle that allows me to not think about Donald Trump for ten whole minutes; or, Thank you God for the smile on my puppy dog’s face when I say the word “chicken.”
Trying to come up with one hundred blessings a day forces you to think about what you really feel grateful for on a daily basis. There are formal Hebrew blessings for tons of things: for fruit, bread, wine, and cake; for thunder and rainbows; and for the ability to go to the bathroom (Blessed are you, Lord, Our God, King of the universe who created man with many openings…if one of them were to be ruptured or blocked it would be impossible to survive).
Here’s one of mine:
Thank you God, the Universe, and Mother Nature, for the water I drink, the food I eat, the bed I sleep in, and the puppies who make me laugh every single day.
I love this💓
I like your blessing at the end and had no idea that there was a Hebrew blessing for being able to go to the bathroom! Of course, I’m not Jewish, so why would I. I think it is wonderful to be thankful and thoughtful about all of the blessings we experience every day. I think trying to reach 100 everyday would be burdensome though – how would you keep track?
I could start out by counting fingers and toes, and paws and dew claws, but then I’m stumped.
I love your expression of thanks! and your pups!
I love your blessing, Rachel. Substitute cats for dogs and I am golden.
It works however you change it.
I’m afraid that keeping track would tick me off enough to negate the benefits of the blessings. Good for you for giving this a shot!
Ha! I can totally understand that.
How wonderful! I do know that gratitude can really change your outlook and I do enjoy the blog post “in celebration of small things”
I’m going to give this a try now.
I think this is great. I try to say “thank you” to God everyday. Sometimes it’s for the same things, but I know I’m blessed.
What a great post, Rachel. Yes, remembering to say thank you for individual blessings opens us for more, keeps us in a positive attitude, and helps us when things are tough. It also reminds us that however bad we think things are, it could be worse. God’s blessings on you!
I get and appreciate the idea, but just for clarification, is blessing the same thing as giving thanks for blessings? In Catholic terminology, the faith in which I was raised, blessing has a different meaning.
perfect. and such sweet faces those are
Puppies certainly make me laugh every day. I can’t imagine a life without them.
That’s a lot of blessings. I give thanks every day for my life and what it entails.
Absolute beautiful Rachel ❣
Thank you so much!
I know I am blessed every day and although I realised it, it was ‘Humphrey’ perhaps that made me really appreciate it. That little sucker is history now, but I am thankful for so many things and so many people that I would never have known had he not paid me a call.
I’m so glad!
🙂 Thanks Rachel. Hugs and treats to Cricket and Butterfly. XX
Amen, Rachel! So much to give thanks for! Pip
Very well said! Gezuntheit!
What a beautiful thing to do, to remind ourselves of the many blessings in our lives.
Thank you for your fidelity to blogging once a week. I look forward to seeing them every Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Thank you so much!
A lovely piece.We have so much to be thankful for. Thanks for sharing.
Rachel it’s a lovely idea but yes keeping track up to 100 could be difficult. These days we have sp much to keep track of we are lucky not to forget our names. Buddhists and Hindus use malas to keep track of chanting mantras. They have 108 beads and in some every 10th bead is a different color to help. Maybe it would be practical as well as ecumenical to use one and the extra eight beads could count as “extra credit”. Thank you God for Rachel’s wonderful blog!
Thank you so much! I love your idea. Maybe I could start with a bracelet so i won’t get overwhelmed. Now someone needs to invent beads that change color when you count them.
Do you remember pop-it beads? They would be just what you want. Start with a few and as you get better you could go from a bracelet to a necklace.
I understand it is also good to give thanks for those people in the parking lot though it’s not quite as easy sometimes. Thankful for chocolate 🐾👏
I am nowhere near that advanced. Nope.
We like your blessing Rachel. Give thanks is all He ask and that we make Him number 1 and the rest all comes into place.
What a wonderful blessing.
Isn’t it easy to be thankful for the puppies that make you (me) smile! I’m glad we both have them! God knew who they needed to live with 🙂
100 blessings- I love this concept but I don’t know if I could sign up for all that pressure. Do they make a Fitbit type of device tha could keep track for you like counting steps? That would help. I know very little about the Jewish faith but have learned a few things from your blog and they all seem beautiful and prayerfull so thank you and blessings for that. Hey does that count as one? If so I’m well on my way to 100; ok well it’s a start…. and I like youf yours am so grateful for the blessings of my dogs who seem to have no problem getting too 100 blessings an hour as they look up to meet my eyes I see love and gratitude each time.
Dogs are so much better at this than humans. Maybe they have innate fitbits?
The attitude of gratitude turns a frown upside down 🙂 I had to laugh to myself when I read why you are thankful for crossword puzzles….yes my dear. Thank God for such things to keep our minds off of he who shall not be named. My dog smiles when she hears the word chicken too lol! Love that! We don’t do 100 blessings here officially but do have a mental gratitude list we try to remember to pull out when things seem very grim. No matter what it is a blessing to have awoken on the green side today! Much love to you, your Mom and fur kids Rachel.
A lot also depends on how you start each day: Once your feet are out of bed and on the floor, a simple “Good morning Lord, thank you for this new day” starts the day off in with the right attitude. Walking with our dogs is something to be thankful for because we have the physical ability to be able to do this – and wasn’t that a lovely sunrise this morning. I don’t know about 100 but I think an adequate count is very possible.
You made me laugh . . . again. I thank God for everything every day. I like to say that there’s nothing NOT to thank Him for. I never run out blessings. Thank you for sharing this, Rachel.
I thank God for the precious little dog who rescued me!
We take so much for granted it is good to pause and give thanks. Thanks for posting this.
I love this post! Who was it who said we should cultivate ‘an attitude of gratitude?’ Not sure, but the phrase has stuck with me. My, can you imagine how happy we could be if instead of the negative thoughts we cultivate, we instead thanked God for all the blessings in our life, great and small?
Rachel, I count your blog among my bearings!
That was supposed to be “blessings!”
I don’t think I could come up with 100 blessings each day, but I am grateful each day. Sometimes the gratitude is repetitive as I am grateful for some of the same things each and every day. For sure, I try not to let negative thoughts enter in.
This is wonderful! Gratitude is a wonderful habit to have.
That’s a really beautiful perspective
I’m not sure about 100, but I find myself muttering blessings in my mind throughout the day. It’s grounding, exhilarating and gives me a positive outlook, which is always a good thing!
I wish that’s what I found myself muttering during the day.
And thank you for your wonderful post that made me smile today!
I don’t know if I have the attention span to keep my focus for a hundred blessings…but I do know that I am thankful for anything that keeps me from thinking about Donald Trump for ten whole minutes, be it a crossword puzzle or something else!
Exactly how I see it. I sit at the end of the day and go over what I’ve seen and done and experienced and all the things are blessings I’ve had.
I like your blessing at the end. But don’t get to the end of the day, realise you’re 89 short and try to make it up before sleep.
Thank you! And I will try not to mumble my way through the last eleven, if the situation arises.
Sounds like a good way to get people focused on the positive things in their life.
I have one blessing per day that has to cover everything. Thank you God for the gift of this day – before I go to sleep. That will just have to do for now.
Sounds good to me!
HaHa. Blessings on this jelly bean and also on the restroom – very important for an old man like me. Thanks for the laughs.
That’s another good one – blessings on laughing!
Reblogged this on Coffee Shop Rabbi and commented:
I’ve recommended her blog before. Rachel Mankowitz has a wonderful gift for words and two adorable dogs. This week she offers her thoughts on the tradition of “100 blessings a day” – how could I resist reblogging it?
I’m glad you reblogged this, rabbiadar. What a lovely way to begin my day. Is there a blessing for coffee?
The 100 blessings tradition is a distant childhood memory, that my father z”l certainly aspired to.
I have a relative who is a traditional Rebbitzen, who probably gets to 1000 or more blessings a day. Almost every other phrase she speaks is “Baruch Hashem” (Bless G-d). And the sweet thing is, she means it!
Now, I’m not about to imitate her. My spirit and my life are in a different place than hers. However, I love the idea of finding one’s own words and phrases of blessing in the minutiae of daily life. Won’t obsess on the count – any number greater than zero is a blessing!
Thank you so much!
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Here was one of my blessings today…….reading your post 🙂
Thank you so much!
I thank God all day long. It might total 100. As long as we can say thank you for some of the same things every day. I would have a running list and then be able to add and change as necessary. 🙂
A puppy blessing. Now I could say that 110 times a day. Amen