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Thought for the Day: Eating Without Making a Bracha is Killing a Kiddush HaShem In the Prime of Its Life

This year I got my flu shot and made an appointment for my annual physical (four years late...) and scheduled a colonoscopy (eight years late... sigh....).  After all that I got the flu; relatively severe case.  After that (three days into the flu when I was starting to feel better and my fever had gone down) my fever went back up; turns out I got a superinfection (not "super" as in superman, just super as in "on top of").  When I called my (ultra orthodox) physician to get antibiotics, I complained a bit and noted that for five years I had ignored good sense and not had regularly scheduled visits, but now that I was trying to be "good" and d, I got sick on top of sick!  He just laughed at with me and replied that is sounded as though HaShem was saying to me, "Oh!  You want השתדלות, do you?  Fine; I'll give you השתדלות!"  (Interestingly, Google's first translation of השתדלות is "intercession", not "effort". )

Ok, that's neither here nor there; I just thought it was a cute story.  Well; ok, it is hear and there.  Everything that was created was intended for one purpose and one purpose alone: to express כבוד שמים/the Glory of Heaven.  Man, as the pinnacle of Creation, is expected to use each and every moment as an opportunity to make a קידוש השם (no, Google translate, not to martyr oneself, but to sanctify HaShem's name).  Using a fever to contemplate and discuss where the level of one's  השתדלות should reach transforms the event into a קידוש השם.  To not do that does more than miss an opportunity, it murders the time wasted.

Let's go back to brachos.  Chazal tell us that anyone who benefits from this world without making a bracha has embezzled consecrated property (מעילה).  What exactly does that mean and how does making a bracha fix things?  It seems a bit lame to say that everything in the world belongs to HaShem, but when I make a bracha he says, "good boy!" and throws me a cookie (ie, permission to eat whatever I muttered the incantation over).  Note: as lame as that sounds, that's how I understood that Chazal for years... so embarrassed.  Much more is going on here!

Take an apple.  R' Avigdor Miller, ztz"l, has a famous vort on the כבוד שמים inherent in the apple: it's beautiful color on the outside, the wrapping that keeps it fresh in the inside, the cup of juice and delightful crunch of the fruit itself, and coupons for more apples at the middle of each.  (Google it... you'll find recordings and videos of it.)  If a person grabs the apple and simply eats it, he has just silenced that symphony of כבוד שמים.  But if he first makes a bracha -- a human being, the pinnacle of creation, uses that apple to express his thanks and praise his Creator, to even declare His sovereignty.  There can be no greater קידוש השם that could be expressed by that apple.  Making a bracha isn't an incantation at all, it is bringing that apple to it's intended purpose.  There is only one thing left at that point, to eat the apple.  The apple has thus fulfilled the purpose for which it was created.

Eating without making a bracha is embezzlement of consecrated property; eating with a bracha is bringing that property to it's intended purpose.  Permission to eat it not a reward for making the bracha, it is it's culmination.

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