Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. - Psalm 68:19
In Judaism, the blessings we say over food are very specific. For example, there is a blessing designated for fruit and an entirely different blessing for vegetables. There is a special blessing for grape products like juice or wine, and another for bread. Then, there is a separate blessing for cake, cookies, and other products made with flour other than bread. And finally, there is a blessing for everything else, which covers any food if one is not sure what blessing to say.
Why is the Jewish system of blessings so complicated? One might suggest that we should simply recite that final, all-inclusive blessing for all food and leave it at that. Why do we need so many variations of blessings for food?
The answer is because each kind of food contains different elements for which we can be grateful. When I am grateful for a sweet apple, it is a very different sensory experience than the experience that comes with praising God for a fresh slice of bread. Indulging in a slice of chocolate cake and biting into a carrot are both experiences to be thankful for, but they are very different. Giving gratitude is a practice of the senses and a reminder that we need to be sensitive to all the different ways that God has blessed us.
With that background, let's look at verse 19 of Psalm 68. It reads: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." However, to appreciate the Jewish teaching on this verse, we need to look at the literal translation of this verse: "Blessed is the Lord, day by day. He provides for us, the God Who delivers us, always."
The Jewish sages explain this verse teaches us that today's gratitude must be different from yesterday's. Tomorrow's praise must be different than today's. Just as each kind of food has its own special element for which we are grateful, so, too, every day has something unique for which to be thankful. We need to bless God "day by day" because every day brings a new blessing.
In Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) we read, "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." What a beautiful thought! God showers us with new blessings every morning, and so we must be thankful anew every single day.
No matter how good or how bad your life might seem right now, there is always something to be grateful for. God is giving you a gift every day; you just need to look for it. Once you've discovered it, rejoice and praise God for it!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President