KJ Hannah Greenberg

Engaging in Blessings

This past year, a dear friend underwent surgery. Baruch Hashem, the operation was successful. Her recovery, however, was excruciating. The worst element of her regaining her well-being was that she felt inadequate to assist the various populations which she ordinarily supported.

My pal was more than frustrated. She finds solace in being “a giver.”

Accordingly, during a bikur cholim call, I suggested that she could still elevate communities by bestowing blessings on them. Whereas her temporary disability meant that she could not, for a finite span, provide meals or rides, she could feed as well as locomote their souls. After all, one way in which all of us are vested to cull supernal goodness is to bless others.

No mater our relative wealth, health, or intellect, we are able to grant sanctification on groups and on individuals. “The ability to bestow blessings is integral to the very essence of the Jewish people. The very first Divine communication to Avraham, our father, established his mission to become a ‘blesser’” (Siegelman). In turn, we, his descendants, have inherited this duty.

Even when we feel ineffective, it remains true that Hashem, and only Hashem, determines the outcomes of our goings-on. Nevertheless, not only do we have choices about our acts in Olam HaZeh, but we have choices about any goodness in which we engage, which, consequently, brings down advantages from Heaven. In “100 Blessings,” David Balto reminds us that “taking the time to acknowledge, speak with, greet, thank[,] and bless another helps [them] recognize their own humanness and the vital nature of their tasks.”

The impact of blessings comes from their connection to The Aibishter. Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein teaches, in “The Power of Jewish Blessings,” that “[b]lessings are a portal to the Infinite. They are the utterances and sentiments shared by us and our ancestors for thousands of years. In the Torah, blessings are seen as a conduit for spiritual and physical potential.” Blessing other people means we link G-d and man.

More exactly, by channeling heavenly beneficence, we add to the world’s good. “The Hebrew word “barukh is not a verb describing what we do to G-d; it is an adjective describing G-d as the source of all blessings. When we recite a berakhah, we are not blessing G-d; we are expressing wonder at how blessed G-d is” (“Jewish Prayers”). Likewise, we are extending that wonder to the object(s) of our blessings.

Consider that the word for blessing, “berakah,” shares a root with the word for knees, “berakim.” In praying ,we bend our knees, literally or figuratively. We genuflect, we show reverence for Hashem. In blessing other folks, we “facilitate our service of G-d” (Avruch), and, in doing so, bring ourselves in alignment with the derech eretz, while, simultaneously, abetting our fellows so that they, too, are further allied with worshipful conduct. Rabbi Yissocher Frand instructs, in “Blessings Are “Between Man and His Fellowman,” that

When we pray, it is strictly a dialogue “between man and G-d.” A blessing, however, is “between man and his fellow.” A blessing only works if the recipient has the faith that the person who is giving him the beracha has the power and  [sic] will and desire to give that blessing. Ultimately, the one who blesses is not the One who is dispensing the beracha. He is only a conduit.

Remarkably, “the one who offers a blessing is blessed as well. When we bless, we recognize the blessings we have received” (Balto). As a result, when my friend reached out to increase others’ lives, she increased her own (healing) as well. To boot, she progressively felt less debilitated.

“Blessings are other-worldly things, resorted to when some drastic intervention is needed in our lives” (Tauber). My pal might have thought her endeavor was entirely externally aimed, yet, each round of blessing other persons bettered her health.

“The truth [about blessing other people]is much simpler and much more profound. Everyone needs blessing, each and every moment of his or her life. And [sic] everyone can bestow a blessing” (Tauber). My friend gave many people hizach, got healthier, experienced increased self-worth, and augmented  this reality’s virtuousness.


Aderet, Rabbi Mordechai. “Direct Blessing from Hashem.” Torah 18 Aug. 2008. Accessed 28 Jan. 2024.

Avruch, Rabbi Pinchas. “The Blessing of Blessings.” 11 Nov. 2004. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

Balto, David. “100 Blessings.” MedStar Health. 31 Aug. 2018., Accessed 28 Jan. 2024.

Frand, Rabbi Yissocher. “Blessings Are “Between Man and His Fellowman.” 4 Jan. 2007. Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.


“Jewish Prayers: Prayers and Blessings.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed 28 Jan. 2024.

Rothstein, Rabbi Isaiah. “The Power of Jewish Blessings.” My Jewish  Accessed 1 Feb 2024.

Siegelbaum, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha. “Why is Blessing so Important in Judaism?” Women on the Land. 18 Dec. 2018.  Accessed 28 Jan. 2024.

Tauber, Rabbi Yanki. “Bless You!” Accessed 28 Jan. 2024.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.
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