Off the Pulpit

A Hundred Times a Day

Jewish tradition bids us to offer a hundred blessings a day. This is not about the numbers; there is nothing magical about one hundred. The one who recited ninety-nine blessings is not spiritually derelict. The secret is not in the numbers, but in the underlying ideology of blessing.

The mishna exhorts us to pray when we see lightning, mountains, deserts, the ocean, a long lost friend and myriad other things as well. Each category has its own formulated blessing, reminding us of the Author of all. This is not the enterprise of accumulating blessings; it is training in cultivating appreciation.

If you bless one hundred things a day you recognize that in each day there are one hundred marvels (at least) spread before us as a banquet of beauty in God’s world. Religion at its best takes on the task of combating the ennui that life brings; it is a struggle against believing in the ordinary. Every sunset is the sky on fire, every rainbow a promise. A blessing turns our hearts heavenward, and for a moment, our daily lives are renewed by wonder. A hundred times a day.