emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The first brocha of the Birchas HaShachar that we say every morning blesses Hashem Who gave the heart(rooster) understanding to distinguish between day and night.

The simple translation of the words and the fact that it is recited at the beginning of a new day shouldn't divert our attention from this brocha's true essence and the reason that it precedes the remaining fourteen brochas of the Birchas HaShachar.

The act of distinguishing between day and night is a template for all things that must be distinguished one from the other.  It's the act of discernment.  And as Rabbi Tuvia Lieff tells us, discernment is the key factor in human behavior.

All of life is about choosing.  It's about tip toeing through an infinite minefield of possible failings courtesy of your Yetzer Hora, and the only GPS that will take us safely through it is the power of discernment that Hashem planted within us.

There are those, like the Rosh, who hold that discernment doesn't come pre-installed, but rather is a by product of the sechel that Hashem has given us.  The sechel is wired to be able to distinguish between the Yetzer Hora and the Yetzer Tov in that it has the ability to think things through so as to clearly see the wiles of the Yetzer Hora for the spiritual three card Monti game that it actually is, but how we use our sechel is up to us.

Therefore, the first brocha we make is to thank Hashem for this ability (either naturally or through sechel) to make a determination in life as to good and bad and right and wrong.

It's certainly the greatest challenge in life and maybe the only one because everything else may well be derivative from it.

But before we can cut through the confusion with which life presents us, we first have to know that we have been given the ability to do so.

And for this we thank Hashem every morning in the very first brocha of the Birchas Hashachar.