Prayer Insights

Morning Blessings # 8: "Wearing Soul Garments"

Rabbi Shaul J. Leiter

Once the spiritual energy has been drawn down by the previous blessings sufficiently enough to enable the possibility of active expression, a process described in the seventh blessing, "straightening the bent", the next step in a person's waking, both physically and spiritually, is getting dressed.

The eighth blessing indicates our desire to be dressed again, spiritually as well as physically.

"Boruch atah … malbish arumim"

"Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who clothes the naked"

All human activity is expressed in one of the following three modes: thought, speech and deed. These faculties are known as the "garments" of the soul. Each day we encompass ourselves divine garments by thinking, speaking and acting in accordance with G-d's will. When we sleep, however, the soul and its garments depart, leaving the body, the soul's vehicle for good acts, in a state of spiritual nakedness. The recitation of this blessing indicates our desire to be dressed again spiritually as well as physically.

On a deeper level, the state of nakedness represents the lack of positive purpose. After Adam and Eve lost their only mitzva by failing to refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they saw themselves as "arum" (literally "naked" in Hebrew), lacking clothes. In the following verse (Gen. 3:1) the archetypal serpent is described as "sly" by the very same word, arum.

Therefore, the blessing "...who clothes the naked" also refers to our daily rediscovery of our ability to rouse ourselves for worthwhile purposes.

Through its recitation we thank G-d daily for enclothing us with the potential to do mitzvot, i.e. the ability to utilize the garments of the divine soul in a constructive and Jewish way. Each day we weave a finer and more exquisite garment of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, each person according to his capacity. When the soul leaves this world to reunite with its Source, it "wears" a garment woven from all of the positive thought, speech and action a person engaged in while alive.

This blessing verbalizes our commitment to transform our mundane actions into a stepping-stone to our Creator by choosing to clothe ourselves in the garments of our Divine soul. Thus, "…who clothes the naked" can also be rendered: "…He that gives purpose to the purposeless," and by saying this blessing, we thank G-d for investing our lives with meaning and direction.

Rabbi Shaul Leiter is the executive director of Ascent-of-Safed.

This series is translated and adapted from Meah Shearim and other sources

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