Prayer Insights

Morning Blessings # 14: "Crown of Glory"

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 fourteenth blessing.


"Baruch ata …otair yisrael b'tiforah."

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


The 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 of prayer.

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.

"Crown" 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.


Summary 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.

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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