Shlomo Ezagui

Which one? A prayer or a blessing?

Sixteen Miles

“Never take the blessing of a simpleton lightly.” You never know the power that resides in the soul of another. Besides, at any moment, it may happen that an angel is listening and will lend his support to the blessing by responding, “Amen.”

In times of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, a very simple fellow, earned his money by digging wells. Throughout the day, he would review the five books of Moses and the entire book of Psalms, which was all he was familiar with and which he knew by heart. The Baal Shem Tov said regarding this man, “Up in heaven, they take the blessings of this simpleton seriously.”

Just before he passed away, the patriarch Jacob blessed his children, “each one according to their fate” in the future. In other words, he did not create anything new for them. Through his blessing, he merely helped bring about what was already theirs; by blessing his children, Jacob ensured that the good would come to them more quickly and conspicuously.

This is the essential difference between a blessing and a prayer.

In Hebrew, the word for “blessing” (bracha) is derived from the same root as the word to “draw down” (LeHavrich) the branches, which refers explicitly to the branches of a vine tree that have already grown and are “pulled down” to the ground so they can form their own roots.

A person may have earned merit and positive deposits in his spiritual bank in heaven through wise choices; however, these positive energies may have difficulty coming down to the person, possibly due to other not-so-wise decisions the person has made. A blessing is a spiritual force generated by the person giving the blessing to push the good that already exists within reach of the person it was meant for.

In prayer, we ask, “May it be your will, God, to cure the sick and provide for the poor.” It is possible that these individuals do not have it in store for them to be cured or abundance. Their fate may be sickness, so it may strengthen their faith and their family member’s faith, or allow others to do good by helping the sick person.

The power of prayer, especially when it comes from the heart and is preceded by charity, is such that it can change an individual’s fate, even if they were not born to be healthy or wealthy. Prayer can create a new will on God’s part to change His plan in favor of the one praying.

This is all there is to it regarding blessings and prayers within the system God established. 

The reach of any human being, however great he may be, is always finite. There is only so much he can accomplish in any realm, whether through prayer or blessing. When God blesses, however, since God is infinite and the source of everything, His blessing is “an increase much greater than the root of a human blessing.”

How does one earn blessings from God?

The Bible says, “I (God) will bless all those who bless you (Abraham).” When someone blesses Abraham and the extension of Abraham, which includes all his children, they are guaranteed a blessing from God Himself.

Someone once asked Rabbi M. M. Schneerson for a blessing. The Rabbi responded, “When you will bless another, this is the surest way for you to receive God’s blessings because the Bible (the word of God) already tells us, ‘I will bless all those who bless you.'”

Bless another from your heart. Feel it and mean it; this is the surest way to draw goodness and blessings from the Almighty God into your life.

Chapter 34

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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