בסיעתא דשמיא

שבע ברכות | The Seven Blessings over a Wedding (translated by Aharon Varady)

"Rainbow Lorikeets in the Cemetery (credit: dicktay2000, license: CC BY 2.0)

Rainbow Lorikeets in the Cemetery (credit: dicktay2000, license: CC BY 2.0)


א בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן׃
1 Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty, who shapes the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

ב בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁהַכֹּל בָּרָא לִכְבוֹדוֹ׃
2 Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty, who creates everything as thy glorious signifier!

ג בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃
3 Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty, who fashions our cosmic potential!

ד בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ
בְּצֶֽלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ
וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּֽנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃
4 Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty, for fashioning each person in your likeness. You have planted within us your creative potential and given us the means that we may perpetually flourish. Bless you, YHVH Eloheinu, fashioner of our cosmic potential!

ה שׂוֹשׂ תָּשִׂישׂ וְתָגֵל הָעֲקָרָה בְּקִבּוּץ בָּנֶֽיהָ לְתוֹכָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה
‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ צִיּוֹן בְּבָנֶֽיהָ׃
5 May she who was left bereft of her children, now delight as they gather together in joy. Blessed are you,YHVH Eloheinu, who delights in Tziyon with her children!

ו שַׂמֵּֽחַ תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים הָאֲהוּבִים כְּשַׂמֵּחֲךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵֽדֶן מִקֶּֽדֶם
‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה׃‏
6 Let these loving friends taste of the bliss you gave to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden in our earliest memory. Blessed are you, Adonai (hashem YHVH), who delights with bridegroom and bride!

ז בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה חָתָן וְכַלָּה
גִּילָה רִנָּה דִּיצָה וְחֶדְוָה
אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת
מְהֵרָה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ יִשָּׁמַע בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחֻצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ
קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה
קוֹל מִצְהֲלוֹת חֲתָנִים מֵחֻפָּתָם וּנְעָרִים מִמִּשְׁתֵּה נְגִינָתָם
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן עִם הַכַּלָּה׃
7 Blessed are You, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty, who illuminates the world with happiness and contentment, love and companionship, peace and friendship, bridegroom and bride. Speedily, Adonai (hashem YHVH) Eloheinu, let it be heard in all the intentional Jewish communities, and in the gates of the City of Peace, cries of joy, song, merriment, and delight — the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from their canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed are you, Adonai (hashem YHVH), who delights in bridegroom and bride together!

I am pleased to share this translation of Sheva Brachot in honor of my friend’s wedding. I first worked on this at the request of Stacey Bhaerman and Adam Shapiro, and more recently was asked by Rachel Katz and Nati Passow. The translation was adapted from Rabbi Simeon Singer’s translation of the Sheva Brachot, “The Seven Benedictions” in The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the British Empire (1895), and inspired by Rabbi Gilah Langner’s translation of the Sheva Brachot (that is also shared with a CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported license). This translation is shared for your joy to adopt, adapt, and redistribute, so long as you include this license and correct attribution.

cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” The shoresh ברא means “create, shape, form.” In the context of growing things, I believe that the blessing is more meaningfully understood in how divine nature shapes living things, שעשני בעצמו and שעשני כרצונו. The “fruit of the Vine” is a reference to the mythical fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Ill.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast created all things to thy glory.” In this blessing, I wanted to help unpack some of the mystery surrounding the word “kavod” (glory, honor) which in the Jewish imagination is something less abstract and more something that is a witnessed and experienced phenomena inseparable from perceiving the reality of the physical world as it truly is, without taking it for granted, suffused with divine wonder.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of man.” In this blessing I want to make certain that by invoking “the Adam”, the blessing is making a reference to Adam Kadmon as initially realized and before, through naïve transgression, was diminished. In the Jewish imagination, Adam Kadmon signifies our cosmic potential, containing worlds, and a mirror of divine likeness.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast made man in thine image, after thy likeness, and hast prepared unto him, out of his very self, a perpetual fabric. Blessed art thou, O Lord, Creator of man.” In this blessing, I want to affirm the amazing power and responsibility invested in our agency, that follows from our appreciation of ourselves as the children of the Adam Kadmon, inheritors of creative consciousness and sentience, and in the first mitzvah of the Torah, tasked with cultivating and protecting the Earth, l’ovdah u’lshomrah: וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “May she who was barren (Zion) be exceeding glad and exult, when her children are gathered within her in joy. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest Zion joyful through her children.” In this blessing, I wanted to invoke the idea that the Divine Presence is exiled from us when we are made to feel alienated from her. With joy and with consensual commitment to each other’s welfare we create a unification that heals and redeems shattered worlds.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “O make these loved companions greatly to rejoice, even as of old thou didst gladden thy creature in the garden of Eden. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest bridegroom and bride to rejoice.” With this blessing, the challenge I felt was in translating “kedem” (ancient, primoridal) a sense of mythic memory that is preciously romantic.
cf. Rabbi Simeon Singer (1895), “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love, brotherhood, peace and fellowship. Soon may there be heard in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from their canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who makest the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride.” In this blessing, I took a liberty in translating “Judaean cities” as “intentional Jewish communities” striving to represent and express the peaceful and loving vision of our prophets. I’ve also translated Jerusalem as the City of Peace, may it truly be so in our days.

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