One Hundred Blessings a Day

One Hundred Blessings A Day From where do we get the idea that a Jew should recite 100 blessings a day?  This comes from a verse in Parasha Ekev, "What does G-d ask of you? Only to fear G-d your Lord…and to love Him."  Our sages teach, “Do not read Mah (dn),”What”, rather insert an Alef and read Me'ah, 'One hundred'. This yields the meaning,  “One hundred does G-d ask of you-this will lead you to fear G-d…and to love Him.” Is it really possible to recite 100 blessings a day in our age of cell phones, 200 cable channels, and other distractions in our lives?  Let’s count!  Jews pray three times a day – shacharit, mincha, and ma’ariv. Each “amidah” in each of these prayer-times has nineteen blessings.  So, we start out with 19×3 or 57 blessings.  Add to that the 15 blessings we recite when we wake up in the morning, known as the “Berachot HaShachar”.  These were once said immediately upon awakening each morning, but are now recited in the synagogue.  That makes 72 blessings – we are almost ¾ of the way there!  In the morning prayers there are 2 blessings before the Shema and one afterward.  In the evening prayers there are 2 blessings before the Shema and 2 afterward.  Those 7 bring us to 79 total.  We’re getting there! We also eat 3 meals a day.  If there is a meal with bread served with it, we recite 2 blessings, the first upon washing our hands, and the second the “motzi”.  If we eat a meal with no bread, we recite only one blessing before it.  Let’s say we eat one meal a day with bread, and two without bread.  That would add 4 blessings, for a total of 83.  Now there are the blessings after a meal:  Four blessings after a meal with bread, one for a meal without bread.  That is another 6 blessings and we are up to 89.  So close that I can feel it!! Let’s add one, “Yishtabach” that all of our bar and bat mitzvah students learn for Shabbat morning, and which also appears on weekday morning services.  We are now up to ninety blessings, without trying at all. OK. Clearly, I need to eat another meal with bread in it every day.  Take away the 2 blessings I said for my non-bread meal, and add the 6 I say for a meal with bread, and I am up to 94 blessings a day!!  Only six more to go.  One for putting on the Tallit in the morning … five more. Two more for putting on tefillin. That leaves THREE BLESSINGS to reach ONE HUNDRED.   Now, if one can find 97 blessings, one can surely find 3more. 

So that is the teaching from our tradition.  Ninety seven blessings, prescribed for us, without having to think much about it.  Three blessings that we need to discover for ourselves, each and every day.
Rabbi Marc D. Rudolph