Prayer Insights

Morning Blessings # 13: "Divine Separations"

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 thirteenth blessing.


"Baruch ata …ozair yisrael b'gevurah."

"Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe,
who girds Israel with might."


The blessing "Who girds Israel with might" refers on the individual level to putting on a belt (or sash, or any "tightener"). By separating between our upper and lower parts, we remind ourselves of higher goals. "Like the girdle clings to the loins, so the Jewish people will cling to me" [Jer. 13:11].

During prayer, men are obliged to make this separation between the lower, more sensual half of the body and the upper half with its spiritual centers. But if G-d created our bodies, why should this separation be necessary? The answer is that just as shoes represent our dominance over the external, physical plane, so "dividers" remind us that we can take charge of our less refined desires. The belt, that for other peoples is a carrier of tools and weapons, is itself for the Jew a "weapon" or vehicle to gain self-mastery.

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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