This series has focused on the connection between the morning blessings
and the individual's daily renewal of spiritual energy and purpose. This installment
discusses the fourteenth blessing.
ata …otair yisrael b'tiforah."
"Blessed are You,
L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who crowns Israel with glory."
blessing "Who crowns Israel with glory" refers on the individual level
to the Jewish head-covering. This blessing and the previous one are the only two
that mention the word "Israel". Both belts and hats are not garments
as basic as shoes, yet each has importance for Jews (men, particularly) at times
The head-covering is a symbol of our submissiveness to Higher
Authority. This is the antidote to the arrogance and illusions of superiority
that might have resulted from achieving mastery over the environment and ourselves.
The blessing "Who crowns" in conjunction with covering the head helps
us to avoid the trap of relying totally on our own intellect and will. It reminds
us of our spiritual crown, our belief in G-d, helping us to be humble by fostering
consciousness of the constant presence of the One above.
always symbolizes a higher level of reality. It also represents the source of
all spiritual energy. Only by reaching beyond our apparently self-sufficient dimension
can we draw on the higher power. While the world sees a head piece as a symbol
of independence and bareheadedness is a sign of submission, the Jew proudly covers
his head to show his submission to G-d.
of Blessings 12-14
Each morning, with the entrance of the divine soul
into our bodies, we have to activate it within us. Each step in this process is
facilitated by its own blessing. And yet, these three blessings can be considered
collectively as a separate sub-unit. Together they convey that G-d protects us
from negative influences which would have us misuse the divine energy. This is
similar to the way a teacher must watch over his advanced students, not so much
directing each move as supervising that the knowledge he imparted to them is utilized
correctly. Even though we already made a blessing (#8)
"Who clothes the naked," which presumably encompasses everything we
wear, shoes, belts, and head-coverings have additional importance for all Jews
(women and men). (#12) Providing shoes to protect our
feet ("He guards the feet of His pious ones") is also a metaphor for
the divine protection of our active processes. (#13)
Belting our middles indicates protection of our emotional processes, for "body"
in Kabbalah is always equated with the six primary emotions. (#14) His crowning
of our heads emphasizes His protection of our highest faculty, our intellectual
processes. G-d encompasses our bodies with divine surrounding energy to protect
the divine inner energy that we have, upon arising, drawn from the source.
Shaul Leiter is the executive
director of Ascent-of-Safed.
This series is translated and adapted from Meah Shearim
and other sources