When you ask a religious Jew how he or she is doing, the answer is likely to be “Baruch HaShem” — blessed be God. Good news often has “Baruch HaShem” added to it as well, as in, “my children are all well, Baruch HaShem.”
Baruch HaShem appears three times in the Bible. What may surprise you is that all three times it is spoken by non-Jews: by Noah in Genesis 9:26; by Abraham’s servant Eliezer in Gen. 24:27; and by Moses’ father-in-law Jethro in Exodus 18:10. This cannot be coincidence, and it points to a beautiful lesson.
Not only is God sovereign over all, Jew and non-Jew alike, but God’s blessings are to all. When a Jew hears the music of Bach or the Beatles, sees the artistry of Titian or Picasso, reads the works of Tolstoy or David Foster Wallace or perhaps sees the acrobatics of Roger Federer or LeBron James, it is also appropriate to thank God. As the Psalmist tells us [145:9], God’s blessings are over all God’s work. We live in a world filled with wonders from all of God’s people, Baruch HaShem.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).