Searching through prayerbooks of other religions, nowhere could I find a blessing for a rooster. But in the Hebrew prayerbook, it is the very first blessing that a religious Jew recites upon beginning the morning devotions.
“Baruch ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech ha olam asher natan la sechvi bina l’havchin bain yom u’vain laila”…. Blessed are You our God, King of the universe, who has given wisdom to the rooster to distinguish between day and night.
What kind of a blessing is this for a rooster? Who makes a prayer on behalf of a rooster? A religious Jew does.
In the days before alarm clocks were invented, observant Jews needed a wake-up call at a specific time to begin their morning prayers. The rooster was the caller. “Rise up, o Jew, and bless your God”.
When a Jew arises and opens his eyes after a good night’s sleep he recites the “Modeh ani”… “I thank you, my God, for restoring my soul unto my body”. Thus in these few words, the Jew thanks God for another day of life before he commences with the formal shacharit (morning) prayers.
After the initial blessing for the rooster, the prayer continues with a series of blessings expressing our gratitude to God for having chosen us to be His special people.
One need not be a religiously observant person to mutter a brief prayer of thanks for a new day and for renewed life. Our religious texts instruct us to consider each day as if it were our last day. This provides us with an opportunity to do all the things and say all the words which our heart directs us. We need to remember our loved ones by telling them that we love them, that they are important in our lives, that we are grateful for all that they do and share . The words are not holy but the intention and the thought is.
How wonderful it feels, after the rooster (alarm clock) has awakened us to begin the new day with expressions of love and gratitude.
While driving down residential streets made attractive by the beds of flowers surrounding them, I offer a prayer of thanks to God for having created such beauty, for giving my eyes the pleasure to behold them. “Thank you, o my God, for creating such beauty in your world for Your children to enjoy”.
How strange people are! We rise up in the morning preparing to go to work or to school. We look out from the window and we see the sun shining brightly in the heavens and we say nothing.
On other days we rise up preparing to go to work or to school and we again look out from the window. We see that it is raining heavily, strong winds caused branches to fall to the ground, the temperature is extremely cold and we say “What a rotten day. Do I have to go to school today? Can I go into work later when the weather improves and the heavy rains diminish? I hate this weather”.
We curse the darkness but we fail to bless the light. And we forget the words from a Hebrew psalm, “Zeh hayom asa Hashem, nagila v’nismecha bo”…. “This is the day which God has created, let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
God made the sun to shine and the rain to fall. We do not praise one but we curse the other.
The rooster’s call, like the blasts of the shofar, is a call to us to awaken from our slumber, to give thanks for life and love, to appreciate the blessings which God and family have bestowed upon us.
We can thank the rooster but he does not hear nor understand. We can thank God who hears and who blesses.