the hunger before me

In the second blessing of Birkath HaMazon, we thank God על הארץ ועל המזון - for the land and for the food. The word that means land also can be understood to mean desire, (from the root רצון) in this sense we can actually understand the second blessing as thanking God for first providing us the appetite--the hunger--for the food, and then for providing us with the means (the food) to fulfill this need.

At face value, it might seem silly that we would thank HaShem for creating us with a lack or a need, and then for fulfilling that need. But that is surely all of creation. Everything we know in life stems from fulfilling initial needs.

In fact, the first act of creation, namely tzimtzum, was to create a vaccuum, a place seemingly devoid of Godliness, in which creation could take place. [Mishnat Hasidim] The reality is that this vaccuum, this apparent lack is actually a revellation of a different kind of Godliness, the revellation of God's Gevurah, or might. This is the attribute that creates boundaries and limitations, the attribute that is able to create a need for something, or a lack of something. The second act of creation, God pouring his light into the aforementioned vaccuum, that is a different kind of revellation of Godliness, the revellation of the attribute of God's mercy or kindness. The attribute of kindness embodies providing for those in need, filling in the lack.

[This is why the midrash says, (and means literally that) God started to build the world with מידת הדין (judgement) and then added to that מידת הרחמים (mercy)]

In the second blessing of the Birkath Hamazon we are praising not only the obvious revellation of Godliness, HaShem's Hesed or kindness, but also we are praising the revellation of God's Gevurah, his might, in creating us with the need to eat.

In this way, we actually touch on something we noted before, that Godliness pervades everything, but the revellation of that Godliness is our job. A job we fulfill through saying Birkath HaMazon after we are satiated.

[As it says, ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את ה' אלוקיך the fact that we draw out or bless the combined names of Havayah and Adnut after we eat and are satiated, hints at this acknowledgement of both the attributes of judgement and mercy in the eating process.]

[There's actually a much deeper way of reading this entire second berachah that acknowledges everything that has and will transpire in one's life. Word for word, sequentially, if you look for it. (Starting with your father's desire to conceive you.)]


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