An element of tragedy in the human condition is that we often do not appreciate Hashem’s blessings until the gifts are suddenly absent from our lives. Our great sages recognized this shortcoming and instituted the recital of numerous brochos to help us recognize and appreciate Hashem’s benevolence when it is present, and not only in hindsight, after it has passed. Unfortunately, the brochos are often recited by rote, with little thought and reflection.
One bracha that we recite numerous times throughout the day, is Asher Yahtzar. Each time we relieve ourselves, we recite the brocho so that we may marvel at our ability to pass waste through intricate and complex channels inside our human body. A blockage or fissure in these channels would be fatal, if not quickly corrected. Typically, we zoom through the brocho without a moment’s thought, but when illness strikes, one suddenly realizes the blessings of human functionality that we overlooked for years and failed to appreciate.
Bina Stern Blumenfrucht and her husband Marvin were active members of our shul until they moved to Manhattan a few years ago. Bina was recently diagnosed with a serious illness, and in a very moving paragraph below, Bina inspires us to think about the meaning and purpose of the brocha of Asher Yahtzar.
I hope that we will take Bina’s words to heart. This will be a great zechus for בינה בת פריידה(Binah bas Fraida), may she have a refuah shelaima, a complete recovery, biezras Hashem Yisbarach (with the assistance of the Almighty, may He be blessed).
Here are Bina’s inspiring words:
When my mother died 16 years ago, I found a small daily siddur on her night table with a sticky note inside. I opened the siddur and it was on the page of Asher Yahtzar.
I read the Tefilla for the first time in my life with the understanding it deserved.
I realized that for so many years I took for granted the greatness of Hashem and understood how grateful we must be every day for the human machine that Hashem created.
Now that I face my own challenges, I was inspired to make myself part of an army of people who will properly say this Bracha at least once a day with true meaning.
We must thank Hashem that our bodies work correctly and we must understand that one thing that goes wrong can make this human machine cease.
We are in Hashem’s hands every day and we must be grateful.
I devote this Tefilla once a day for my refuah and for the refuah of all those who need refuah in Klal Yisroel.
Bina Stern Blumenfrucht.