Search
Exact matches only
//  Main  //  Menu

 
☰︎ Menu | 🔍︎ Search  //  Main  //   🖖︎ Prayers & Praxes   //   🍞︎ Birkat haMazon & Other Prayers Over Food 🥦︎   //   Blessings After Eating

A New Birkat haMazon/Blessing After the Meal, by Rabbi Brant Rosen (2021)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=43401 A New Birkat haMazon/Blessing After the Meal, by Rabbi Brant Rosen (2021) 2022-03-24 21:59:39 "A New Birkat haMazon/Blessing After the Meal" was first published by Rabbi Brant Rosen via his liturgy blog, <a href="https://ynefesh.com/2021/08/03/a-new-birkat-hamazon-blessing-after-the-meal/">Yedid Nefesh</a> (8 March 2021). He writes, "In composing this new Birkat Hamazon/Blessing After the Meal, I maintained the essential structure of the traditional prayer, which consists of four basic spiritual themes or categories. As with the other new liturgies that I’ve written, I seek here to compose Jewish prayers that express a Diasporist ethic; that is to say, liturgy that views the entire world as our “homeland” and resists the influence of modern political Zionism, which has become so thoroughly enmeshed in contemporary Jewish liturgy." Text the Open Siddur Project Brant Rosen Brant Rosen https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Brant Rosen https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Blessings After Eating 21st century C.E. 58th century A.M. English vernacular prayer doikayt diaspora ברכת המזון birkat hamazon
In composing this new Birkat haMazon/Blessing After the Meal, I maintained the essential structure of the traditional prayer, which consists of four basic spiritual themes or categories. As with the other new liturgies that I’ve written, I seek here to compose Jewish prayers that express a Diasporist ethic; that is to say, liturgy that views the entire world as our “homeland” and resists the influence of modern political Zionism, which has become so thoroughly enmeshed in contemporary Jewish liturgy.

Contribute a translation Source (English)

Ḥaverai nevarekh
Friends, let us offer blessings…[1] This is a simple, shortened version of the zimun – an invitation to prayer – when 10 or more people have just shared a meal. 

…for the food we have shared.
 
We give thanks for the earth and its goodness,
created to feed and sustain all that lives.
As we rejoice in the ever-giving blessings of creation,
let us commit to spreading your abundance
to all who dwell upon the earth.
May we forever work to create a world
in which hunger is no more,
as it is written, “there shall be no needy among you.” (Deuteronomy 15:4)
Barukh atah adonai, hazan et hakol
Blessed are you, who feeds us all.
Amen.[2] The first blessing offers gratitude to God for providing the food that sustains all creation. In this section, I chose to make explicit the fact that although the earth contains enough abundance to feed all of humanity, we nonetheless live in a world of rampant hunger. Thus, the moral imperative: “Let us …work to create a world in which hunger is no more.” For this reason, I chose to substitute the traditional Biblical verse, Deuteronomy 8:10 (“When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which God has given you”), with Deuteronomy 15:4: (“There shall be no needy among you.”) 

…for the lands upon which we dwell.
 
May the inhabitants of every land live in safety and security.
Let us all strive to be caretakers of the land,
that it may yield its abundance to future generations,
as it is written, “the land will give forth its fruits
and you will eat to fullness and dwell in security upon it.” (Leviticus 25:19)
We acknowledge that too many are sustained by the bounty of lands
that have been colonized and stolen from their original inhabitants.
May we work to bring the day
when all who have been exiled and dispossessed
know restoration and reparation.
Barukh atah adonai, al ha’arets v’al hamazon
Blessed are you, for the land and its sustenance.
Amen.[3] The second blessing traditionally gives thanks for Eretz Yisrael – the land of Israel. In keeping with a centering of the Jewish diaspora over one particular piece of land, I chose to render this wording “for the lands” rather than “for the land (al ha’aretz.) In other words, we give thanks for the many lands upon which the Jewish people have made – and continue to make – their homes.

Although the traditional version was written well before the era of Zionism, many contemporary versions of the Birkat Hamazon use this section to offer thanksgiving for the establishment of the state of Israel. (The Reconstructionist version of this prayer for instance, includes the words, “for the culture, faith and hope of our people alive once more in Eretz Yisrael.”) Some versions also include a prayer for Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israeli Independence Day as well.

The traditional version of this section also invokes the Exodus from Egypt (“you redeemed us from the House of Bondage.”) Here, I chose to universalize this message and render it as a prayerful land acknowledgment. This recognizes the undeniable fact that many who say this prayer for the land will be invoking it on land that was literally colonized and stolen from others. Finally, to recognize the threat of global climate change to the lands upon which we live, I’ve also highlighted the importance of safeguarding God’s abundance for future generations. For a Biblical verse, I chose Leviticus 25:19, which references living upon the land “in security.” 

…for the vision of a world complete.
 
May this dream become reality soon in our own day,
that every land may be a Zion,
every city a Jerusalem,
every home a sanctuary offering welcome to all.
May your world be rebuilt
upon a foundation of compassion, equity and justice,
as it is written, “compassion and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss.” (Psalms 85:10)
Barukh atah adonai, boneh ha’olam b’tsedeq v’raḥamim
Blessed are you, who rebuilds the world in justice and compassion.
Amen.[4] The traditional version of the section thanks God for the city of Jerusalem, expressing the messianic yearning for God to re-establish the city and to rebuild the Temple. In composing this section, I transvalued the messianic ideal into a vision of the world “as it should be” – embodied by an era of universal ” compassion, equity and justice.” As the Hebrew word for Jerusalem, Yerushalayim – contains the root שלם (Sh”LM), which means “wholeness,” I chose the image of a “world complete.”

I also chose to idealize Jerusalem to represent the mythic “city of peace” in which which we all yearn to live. In this regard, I was particularly inspired by the classic rabbinic notion of “Yerushalayim Shel Mala” or “Jerusalem of the Heavens.” (I personally find this much more powerful than a quasi-idolatrous attachment to an earthly piece of land which, tragically, has rarely known a moment of peace.) For the Biblical verse, I chose Psalms 85:10, which evokes a vision of this universal future with incredible poetic beauty. 

…for your abundant goodness.
 
Teach how to walk in your ways:
the ways of kindness and decency,
graciousness and understanding,
now and always.
Just as you nourish us unconditionally,
so may we learn how to take care of one another
with openness and love.
For it is written, “you open your hand
and nourish the desire of all life.” (Psalms 145:16)
Barukh atah adonai, ha’tov ve’hameitiv
Blessed are you, who is good and who bestows goodness upon us all.
Amen.[5] This final section was added to the Birkat Hamazon in the aftermath of the disastrous Bar Kokhba revolt in the second century CE, reflecting a sense of healing and optimism – and faith in God’s goodness – even in the wake of a cataclysmic collective tragedy. In my rendering, I chose to highlight not only God’s goodness, but the moral imperative to mirror that goodness in our own relationships with one another. For the Biblical verse, I retained the traditional line from Psalms 145:16: “You open your hand…”

I ended this section – and the Birkat Hamazon as a whole – with the traditional blessing, “Barukh atah adonai, ha’tov ve’hameitiv” (“Blessed are you who is good and who bestows good upon us all”). This blessing is traditionally recited at times “which bring pleasure to an entire community” – an eminently appropriate way to end a blessing following a communal meal. 


“A New Birkat haMazon/Blessing After the Meal” was first published by Rabbi Brant Rosen via his liturgy blog, Yedid Nefesh (8 March 2021).

 

Notes

Notes
1 This is a simple, shortened version of the zimun – an invitation to prayer – when 10 or more people have just shared a meal.
2 The first blessing offers gratitude to God for providing the food that sustains all creation. In this section, I chose to make explicit the fact that although the earth contains enough abundance to feed all of humanity, we nonetheless live in a world of rampant hunger. Thus, the moral imperative: “Let us …work to create a world in which hunger is no more.” For this reason, I chose to substitute the traditional Biblical verse, Deuteronomy 8:10 (“When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which God has given you”), with Deuteronomy 15:4: (“There shall be no needy among you.”)
3 The second blessing traditionally gives thanks for Eretz Yisrael – the land of Israel. In keeping with a centering of the Jewish diaspora over one particular piece of land, I chose to render this wording “for the lands” rather than “for the land (al ha’aretz.) In other words, we give thanks for the many lands upon which the Jewish people have made – and continue to make – their homes.

Although the traditional version was written well before the era of Zionism, many contemporary versions of the Birkat Hamazon use this section to offer thanksgiving for the establishment of the state of Israel. (The Reconstructionist version of this prayer for instance, includes the words, “for the culture, faith and hope of our people alive once more in Eretz Yisrael.”) Some versions also include a prayer for Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israeli Independence Day as well.

The traditional version of this section also invokes the Exodus from Egypt (“you redeemed us from the House of Bondage.”) Here, I chose to universalize this message and render it as a prayerful land acknowledgment. This recognizes the undeniable fact that many who say this prayer for the land will be invoking it on land that was literally colonized and stolen from others. Finally, to recognize the threat of global climate change to the lands upon which we live, I’ve also highlighted the importance of safeguarding God’s abundance for future generations. For a Biblical verse, I chose Leviticus 25:19, which references living upon the land “in security.”

4 The traditional version of the section thanks God for the city of Jerusalem, expressing the messianic yearning for God to re-establish the city and to rebuild the Temple. In composing this section, I transvalued the messianic ideal into a vision of the world “as it should be” – embodied by an era of universal ” compassion, equity and justice.” As the Hebrew word for Jerusalem, Yerushalayim – contains the root שלם (Sh”LM), which means “wholeness,” I chose the image of a “world complete.”

I also chose to idealize Jerusalem to represent the mythic “city of peace” in which which we all yearn to live. In this regard, I was particularly inspired by the classic rabbinic notion of “Yerushalayim Shel Mala” or “Jerusalem of the Heavens.” (I personally find this much more powerful than a quasi-idolatrous attachment to an earthly piece of land which, tragically, has rarely known a moment of peace.) For the Biblical verse, I chose Psalms 85:10, which evokes a vision of this universal future with incredible poetic beauty.

5 This final section was added to the Birkat Hamazon in the aftermath of the disastrous Bar Kokhba revolt in the second century CE, reflecting a sense of healing and optimism – and faith in God’s goodness – even in the wake of a cataclysmic collective tragedy. In my rendering, I chose to highlight not only God’s goodness, but the moral imperative to mirror that goodness in our own relationships with one another. For the Biblical verse, I retained the traditional line from Psalms 145:16: “You open your hand…”

I ended this section – and the Birkat Hamazon as a whole – with the traditional blessing, “Barukh atah adonai, ha’tov ve’hameitiv” (“Blessed are you who is good and who bestows good upon us all”). This blessing is traditionally recited at times “which bring pleasure to an entire community” – an eminently appropriate way to end a blessing following a communal meal.

 PDF (or Print)

 
 
 

 

Comments, Corrections, and Queries