I was davening the other day, really trying to focus on every word, and I noticed the incredibly appropriate “blessing for the years” in the Amida. I had never dwelled on that particular bracha before, as so many others (gratitude, peace, strength) have taken the spotlight. The blessing reads “Bless this year for us, Hashem our G-d and [bless] all kinds of produce for the good. And give (dew and rain[in winter]) as a blessing over the earth, and satiate us with it’s goodness. And bless our year like the good years. Blessed are you
Hashem, who blesses the years.”
Living disconnected from agriculture and the importance of rain for our crops and our very lives can easily leave this blessing to be overlooked. But suddenly, the whole idea of a “year” being blessed feels very relevant. We have a pandemic caused by a virus named Covid-19, after the year 2019, the year it was discovered. And then the year 2020 followed and all of our lives were affected by the pandemic. A lot of hope and celebration was in the air when the secular new year began about a month ago, that 2021 is going to be better. One month in, I still believe that to be true. But the opposite is also possible.
Farmers today, and all of our ancestors, were very aware of the year cycle and could probably remember certain years based on the crop supply. When they thought about “good years” (and the not so good years), they had concrete memories of certain years because their livelihood was dependent on the weather. For many of us today, however, trying to remember what year something happened — even something important — can be difficult. And despite increasing hurricanes, tornados, floods, and wildfires, many of us can’t remember the particular year that these weather events occurred because most of our jobs and salaries were not impacted by them. I live in South Florida so I am well aware that many people DO have devastation and loss of life and property from severe weather, but that is a little different than each year’s weather affecting us so directly that we naturally pray about it.
Farmers today and our ancestors who were dependent on agriculture for their lives prayed for the harvest each year and hoped that the year would be one of the “good ones.” This week when I prayed for the “year,” I wasn’t praying about only the crops;
I started praying as well that this year will turn away from dystopia and be remembered as one of “the good ones.”
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