One of the daily joys living at the New Jersey shore is experiencing the crack of dawn as the sun seemingly rises out of the Atlantic Ocean to shine forth brightly. It is a bit difficult to drive due east during sunrise as your car visor cannot block the sun, but nevertheless it is likened to the commencement of Creation. Sunset at the shore is equally inspiring, with the rich artist’s palette full of hues of red, orange and yellow. I miss seeing that every day.
As I left my home Wednesday morning for minyan (morning worship), I saw a magnificent, magenta sunrise across what seemed like the entire eastern sky. I immediately intoned the bracha(blessing) to thank God for this beauty – Oseh Ma-aseh V’resheet – the Source of Creation. Having said that bracha nearly every day that I viewed the Atlantic sunrise, it was indeed a delight to do so again. I am especially grateful that I am able to say the bracha. But the story did not end here.
At the breakfast table after services had concluded, a fellow worshipper asked me if I saw the magnificent sunrise, and we spoke of the breathtaking beauty. He asked me what was the proper bracha, and then someone across the table joined the conversation also inquiring about the proper bracha. This magnificent sunrise became an opportunity to study and learn together. It also served as a reminder that we should take nothing for granted, and that we must give thanks to God for the beauty that surrounds us every day. Rabbinic tradition created a standard that one should recite one hundred brachot each day. Just the words of the morning Amida moves you nineteen percent closer to that goal. However, I think that the secret of the one hundred goal is to absorb the magnificence of our surroundings, not take it for granted, and express appreciation for all that surrounds us. A sensitivity to our environment leads to us being respectful of our environment, and one would hope good stewards of the planet that God entrusted to us. That is not necessarily the case, as pollution and its effects upon the planet demonstrate.
There is much to be thankful for each and every day. Just waking is deserving of gratitude! Developing more of an attitude of gratitude will go a long way towards a more fulfilling and enriching life. You might not be able to complete the one hundred. Perhaps consider starting with one. Let me know how you fare.