Why This Formula?


As I began to consider creating a new kind of blessing formula, for new kinds of situations, I knew that I wanted to keep some of the feel and intention of the original (it’s worked so long for a reason!), modifying the kinds of words used but keeping the word magic in place — the right words, said in the right order, with the right intention, can and do create certain outcomes. This is built into Jewish tradition, and certainly makes sense to me as a kinda-wiccan-kinda-pagan-definitely-feminist-kinda-agnostic-definitely-no “daddy god in the sky”-kinda-Jew.

So I knew I wanted to keep these aspects of the original blessing formula, to make the new feel familiar and keep the wisdom:

1. the blessing should open with making the blessing (Blessed Is)
2. the blessing should name the holy name, which is the source of the blessing
3. the blessing should invoke and name the source of its legitimacy/power (our god, king of the world in the original)
4. there should be a switch from in the grammatical person, from second to third in the original
5. the blessing should have a statement of action, such as “who commands us” or “who raises the dead”

[if you want to know more about these, see: Notes for the Halachically Hardcore]

After many different rewrites, I evolved a four line blessing that meets these requirements, using this formula:

1. blessing opens by declaring the holy name/holy mystery is blessed,and by saying so make it so
2. the blessing contains a statement that shows its the legitimacy of its power –here, the power comes from the power of the communal “we” choosing to make blessing and therefore to try to create holiness in the world
3. it continues with a statement of what “we who are blessing” are or will be doing, with a strong verb and strong action, which has a sense of weighty, serious movement, and which is more than a statement of emotion
4. the blessing ends with a statement of the change or effect we intend for the blessing of the action to have in the world

Each blessing is created to address a certain need, a moment which cries out for words of thanks, praise, reassurance, remembrance, or anger. Judaism has lists of traditional blessings — what to say before we eat,
before we eat bread, when we see a rainbow, when we study, etc etc, but much of women’s experience, and of my own experience, is not part of the map of the world the tradition creates. I started this project by
listing my own moments that need words of praise, gratitude, or some kind of magic to help transform an impossible situation into one I have tools to make known and navigable.

I very much welcome suggestions for other things or events or moments that need blessings. Ultimately, if they are to work as actual blessings, they need to be the right words to have an emotional effect on us when we speak them — what we are doing or thinking should feel different, more invested with meaning, after the formula of transformation has been spoken. In addition to commenting on the blessings you find here, please add your own blessings, or your requests for situations that need blessing.

To see the blessings that I’ve developed so far for many different occasions and needs, click here: Occasional Blessings

I will be editing and updating as often as I can. If you’d like to get email updates, enter your address into the RSS option box on the home page of this blog.

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