"There is a well-known scene in the musical Fiddler on The Roof, when Tevye and the other men of the village are discussing the czar of Russia. Someone suggests that a blessing be said on behalf of the czar. Another asks inquisitively, 'Is there a blessing for the czar?' The town's rabbi responds, 'In Judaism there is a blessing for everything.' He continues, 'May the Lord bless and keep the czar . . . far away from us.' " Although no such blessing actually exists, the rabbi in the musical is correct: there is a blessing for almost everything in Judaism. There is a blessing for getting up in the morning, for going to sleep, for eating, for seeing wondrous things, for experiencing new things, for the occurrence of good things, for the unfortunate occurrence of bad things, for hearing the news of someone's death, for seeing someone you have not seen in a long time, for going to the bathroom, for studying Torah, for going on a journey, for fulfilling almost any religious commandment, and for just about everything else in life.
"In the Talmud, one Rabbi instructs us to recite one hundred blessings throughout the day. His teaching is seen as a way for us to develop a posture of gratitude. Jewish tradition encourages a daily practice of reciting blessings of thanksgiving to God for the goodness in our lives each day.
"There are two basic types of blessings: those that respond to awe, and those that seek to stimulate awe within us. Blessings that respond to awe are those said when we see or experience something awe-inspiring, such as the birth of a child. Barukh ata Adonai Elohenu Melekh ha-olam, ha-tov v'hameitiv, Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who is good, and does good. Blessings that seek to stimulate awe within us are those said over routine things, such as the blessing before eating bread: Barukh ata Adonai Elohenu Melekh ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. The blessings over routine acts keep us mindful of God's role in the everyday aspects of life; otherwise we might be dulled into forgetting about God's part in things as basic as the food we routinely eat. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel tells us that blessings help us 'to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all being.' ”