"The Jewish mystical path is sometimes called The Blessing Way because it is through blessing that we weave light, love, and godliness into this God-woven universe. Blessing is the luminous thread in this giant web that sustains and nourishes us, and we are spider-partners with God knitting spiritual life into our world.

"Avram Davis, in his book The Way of Flame, beautifully describes the meaning and need for blessing in our everyday life: 'What does it mean to bless and to be blessed? It means, first of all, to be aware of each act that we do. To our awareness of each act, we add joy. As we bring joy to our mind and actions, we break through to the awareness that every bit of God's creation is blessed and that when we partake of it we are also blessed. So we make a blessing on even our simplest acts or objects — an item of food or drink or apparel — in order to strengthen our awareness of universal blessing. We begin to see how simple things such as eating or drinking, helping a friend, providing hospitality, visiting a scholar, or forgiving an enemy are, in turn, blessed by God. And so our consciousness is elevated so that we ourselves feel blessed by joy, wonder, splendor, and peace. And to feel blessed is to be perpetually reborn.'

"Blessing is a celebration of joy; we all too often wallow in our own sadness, in our misery and misfortune, and feel victims to all visible and invisible perpetrators who are denying us the blessing that naturally flows from existence. Although these moments offer valuable insight into our own errors and negative patterns, we should never lose ourselves off to blessing, to celebrating the bounty of God in all its forms, both good and bad. Blessing is taking time to appreciate who we are, what we do, and what each moment gives us — it is a return to innocence and a golden peace of heart. Blessing is restoring the gift of light that is granted to us every minute. If we return to the image of wholeness, a continuous vibrating circle between us and God, then blessing is the current that electrifies and brings the circle alive. When we are sad and feel wounded, let us bless that state, and the pain will be transformed into a lesson that returns us to wholeness. When we are joyful, again let us bless that state and transform our own abundance into generosity for others. If every day we were able to feel blessed for three or four things that had happened to us, our entire lives would be transformed. Doing this, of course, is no easy thing. We must be patient with ourselves — we must bless ourselves as well. Learning the art of blessing is a little like learning to walk. When a child is learning to walk, and falls down, we don't go over to the child and kick her, saying" 'Walk more quickly!' No, we help her to her feet, give her a kiss, and encourage her to take another step. So is the way with us. We need patience and good humor.

"Blessing also means to hear, to restore, to return fragmentation to wholeness. Healing is an important path of mystical Judaism and is called tikkum olam — healing the world. The world is just like us, a constant flux, a constant ebbing and flowing that we sail upon to the best of our abilities. Blessing helps us sail with the current and find our route to the ocean of infinity. Avram Davis discusses the spiritual role of healing and blessing in this way: 'This is where the soul of humanity comes in. It is our duty to make this repair, which is best accomplished by the quality of mercy and Chesed [loving-kindness or compassion] that we give back to creation. We bless the world around us in order to heal it.' Our ability to heal must be taken seriously! Not to heal, not to bless, is not to return that which we take for our own benefit. When we don't return what we take, we feel deprived because the circle of giving and receiving is not complete. The whole of creation works within the circle, forever returning; our poverty of spirit is owed to the fact that we have arrogantly stepped out of creation, but our souls will be restored by entering it again.

"Because Judaism honors God so profoundly in all its mundane manifestations, there exists a long tradition of blessing that pays respect to the ordinary and everyday. We bless a cup of tea, a handshake, a meal, the night when we go to bed, and the mourning when we get up. The Talmud recommends that we perform one hundred blessings a day (Menahot 43b). In the past, ritual blessings were largely part of the obligatory liturgy of prayers that were enacted three times a day. Today, many Orthodox Jews continue to go to the synagogue daily, but for many individuals and families this schedule is impractical, and yet they, too, feel a need for a daily moment of silence and respect. The choice of blessings included here attempts to present a variety of options, from the most simple to be used on our own to the more complex to be performed with others in the family and community. As you begin practicing blessing, you will gradually notice that he quality of your day alters, as though you had been sleeping in the darkness of night and suddenly woke up to see the glory of dawn, soft hues coloring the sky, cool breezes blowing, and watched a powerful transformation of your world. Lawrence Kushner stimulates us into feeling the beauty of blessing in his book The Book of Words: 'With each blessing uttered we extend the boundaries of the sacred and ritualize our love of life. One hundred times a day. Everywhere we turn, everything we touch, everyone we see. The blessing can be whispered. No one even needs to hear. No one but the Holy One. 'Holy One of Blessing, your Presence fills the universe. Your Presence fills me.' "