Honorable Mensch-ion

The Full Cup

A pious man had the custom of putting coins in a few different tzedakah boxes before Shabbat each week. He would then pray. For the orphanage, “May God grant that my children and grandchildren never have to be placed there.” Putting in a few coins for the hospital, he would say, “May God help that I should never go to a hospital.” The last box was for the synagogue. He would exclaim, “May the Almighty be compassionate with me and spare me from having to go there.” While it may seem that a synagogue is a place where only giving takes place, we must also be able to focus on what we receive.

As we conclude the Torah Monday evening, beginning the holiday of Simchat Torah, we read vzot habracha, “This is the blessing.” There is a custom before one recites Birkat Hamazon, grace after meals, to fill a kos shel bracha, a cup of blessing. The cup must be completely filled and given to others within the household. Finally, the cup must be taken with both hands. While many understand this act a symbol to give abundant blessings to others, Rabbi Bernard Berzon sees it in the exact opposite way. When a blessing is presented before us, we are obligated to receive it. The one who holds this cup of blessings should feel as if his life is full. Ben Zoma asked, “Who is rich? The one who is happy with his lot.” As we commence the Torah once again, may we continue to bestow blessings upon others, as we continue to refill that cup, day after day.

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