Prayer Insights

Morning Blessings # 10: "The Good Foundation"

Rabbi Shaul J. Leiter

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 tenth blessing.

"Baruch ata …roka ha'aretz al hamayim."

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who spreads forth the earth above the waters

Now that we have potential and ability, purpose and courage (blessings 4-9), we could easily fall prey to the trap of complacency. In actuality, however, we have reached a crucial turning point; we must ask ourselves, does all of our growth and development really serve any purpose to Him, G-d, the Omnipotent?

Although we are immeasurably insignificant in comparison to G-d, we nevertheless possess the capability to serve Him. This, however, is only because, in His kindness, G-d has revealed Himself within this world and through the Torah indicating His desire to have a dwelling-place on this lowest of all planes. He designed the Creation to give us a place to put our feet, a stage from which to function. He has "spread the earth above the water."

Eretz (meaning "earth" in Hebrew) is related to the word ratz (meaning "run"); the Midrash teaches that the earth is so called because it ran to do G-d's will. In this context, "earth" is a metaphor for action that stems from choice. Water, on the other hand, flows from higher to lower levels and symbolizes the "top down" revelation of G-d-liness; this is related to doing G-d's will automatically, since in the face of revelation there is no possibility of non-compliance.

In the higher worlds "water", the unquestioning fulfillment of the divine will, is above "earth", i.e. the fulfillment of the divine will out of choice. In this world, however, "land" is above "water"; our sense of free choice is not overwhelmed by the illumination of constant revelation. When we awaken each morning we should reflect upon the great favor the Al-mighty has done for us by spreading the earth above the water, thereby allowing us to serve Him willingly, and not merely as a matter of course. For this reason King David proclaimed, "He spreads the earth above the waters, for His kindness is everlasting" (Psalms 136).

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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