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Thought for the Day: Praising the Creator for His Investment in Me

Then there are three brachos we are required to make every day.  Even an onein who is patur from brachos until after an afternoon k'vura, would still make these brachos.  The three required brachos are: "she'lo asani goy", "she'lo asini eved", and either "she'lo asani isha" or "she'asini kirtzono" (depending on that flavor Jew  you are).  (O.Ch. 46:4)  The Mishna Brura says to be careful not to say "she'asani yisrael" (which is mistakenly printed in some siddurim, apparently) because then there are those who say that you can no longer make the brachos of  "she'lo asani goy" and "she'lo asini eved".  (s.k. 15)   But if "sh'asani yisrael" works b'di'avad, why isn't that the l'chatchila format of the bracha?  Another question: since chazal apparently didn't mind making a different brach for women than men, why don't women say "shelo asani goya" and "shelo asani shifcha"?  (Yes, I know there is at least one siddur that has that nusach.  I know of no source for those, and so am dismissing them from the discussion.  If you can find a reliable source, I would love to see it.)

I think the first order of business is to understand why we don't simply say "sh'asani yisrael" and be done with it.  Suppose someone gave you $1,00,000.00 start up money; you can do a lot with a cool million, even now a days.  Then, after about a few months you have have gone through his entire investment and have essentially nothing to show for it.  Just how excited are you going to be to remind him about his investment in you when you see him?  More than that, is he going to be excited about you running around telling everyone that he had so much faith in you that he actually invested a million dollars with you?  They are more like to think "sucker" or "easy mark", than "ba'al tzedaka".

Some of you may recall that I once worked out that you are getting more than $10,000 in goods and services from HaShem every single day.  (See "Cost of Living"; which predates "Thought for the Day" and was written Elul Z'man 5767 or so.)  Now think... what do you have to show for it.  Right.  Which means that getting up and declaring "Baruch atah HaShem, Elokeinu Melech haOlam, she'asani yisrael" (which b'di'avad works) is at least embarrassing and at worst insulting.  (I winced just writing it.)

So, instead we praise and thank HaShem for the opportunities He gives us by recognizing what distinguishes us.  We are not goyim -- we are attached to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and are partners in creation.  We are not slaves -- we are free to work on our avodas HaShem according to our own discretion, and not by hiding behind a human master.  As Jews, men and women have been put into partnership.  The women setting the direction and providing potential, the man carrying out the mission.  At this point, therefore, it is finally appropriate to have gender specific brachos.  A man, continuing the pattern says, "shelo asini isha" -- who did not give me the job of a (free, Jewish) woman.  The woman's bracha, reflecting her more passive role as an enabler, says, "she'asini kirtzono" -- who made me to enable His Will to be realized.


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