Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Why Jew do not bless before some commandments. An investigation.

In fact, there are two kinds of set statements that can be said before doing Mitzvot.

  1. A declaration to help us focus, pay attention
  2. A formal Blessing to sanctify our action.


There are traditional statements about kavana, focus and intention, before many Commandments: saying Hallel, taking the Palm bundle, entering the Booth on Tabernacles, counting the Omer, etc.

Some rabbis plead against saying things to extra focus on Commandments that are done through speech, like counting the Omer, making Kiddush or Havdalah, or saying the Blessings after a bread meal. If we say a declaration on the automatic pilot, what we’ll have gained? Just do it.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested adding a declaration before our morning prayers, because of the times we’re in. That we take upon ourselves the very important Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

These statements don’t have the form of a formal Blessing. Therefore it’s not so pressing to know if we can say them. While a redundant formal Blessing may be a violation on one of the Ten Commandments, not to use G^d’s Name in vain.


We make a Blessing before eating, before saying Hallel (Ashkenazics even before Half Hallel), before taking up the Palm bundle, before entering the booth to eat a regular meal, before eating Matzot and bitter herbs on Passover Night, before putting on Phylacteries, even before putting on a Prayer shawl (there is no obligation to wear four-sided clothing but if we do, we should attach fringes to them and then make a Blessing), before listening to the Shofar, before learning and before reading Torah, before counting the Omer, before checking for chameitz, etc.

But, we do not make a blessing before giving charity, before returning a loan, before having proper sexual relations, before saying our daily prayers, before returning a lost object, before honoring our parents, before teaching our (grand)child, etc.

Why? Many learned detailed ideas have been suggested. I’m certainly not the first to wonder about this. One reason I heard often is that one doesn’t know if the poor would accept your gift (he might suddenly die), if the relations will lead to a child (but enjoying sex is a Commandment in itself), if our prayers will be heard and answered (they will be heard but answered by: Not yet), if the child will understand any of the learning, etc. I find that to reason this way sometimes sounds a bit farfetched (but it’s better than nothing). Let me suggest something else. Maybe I’m not the first to say so.


One reason I can think of is that these Commandments happen in vis-à-vis another. Don’t let the other (in prayer: the Other) wait because you want to sanctify. Proper interaction with others is consecration enough already.

This even more so when the interaction with the other is commanded and urgent: to save a life, stop a would-be murderer. But before you properly slaughter an animal, you do make a blessing because the animal will only profit, from you being calm and having a few seconds more to live.

Also a newborn baby won’t mind if it takes a few seconds more before he’ll encounter the knife of the circumciser.

How about the Blessing on getting married? Well, maybe that comes to teach the groom to go slow on his wife. And though the bride is not like an animal about to be slaughtered, she just profits from a few more seconds as a free girl. (Besides, most brides are too busy crying/praying to notice.)

But when you make Kiddush Friday night or Havadalah Saturday night, others wait for you to finish the Blessing. Not really. You say it for them.

We acknowledge specifically being Divinely commanded before doing a Commandment but not at the expense of someone (someOne) else.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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