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Blessing for giving the heart understanding

Giver of Wisdom -

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Hebrew blessing thanking God for Binah

The following blessing thanks the LORD for the gift of an understanding heart, and the ability to discern between things in experience:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
asher natan lasekhvi vina l’havchil
bein yom u’vein lailah.

Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, Master of the universe,
who gave the heart understanding to distinguish
between day and night.

Chokhmah (wisdom) is a response to the teaching (torah) of the personal God (YHVH), who is holy and just, and who expects those who know him to exhibit His character in the affairs of life. This view of wisdom is different than the speculative wisdom of the Greeks, who stressed that "knowledge was virtue" (e.g., if a person had perfect knowledge he would live the good life (Plato). Hebrew wisdom is not found in the head, but rather the heart and will, and was to be subject to divine commandments (mitzvot). Therefore, Hebrew wisdom is not theoretical and speculative, but practical and based on revealed principles of right and wrong, to be lived out in daily life. The one who does this is considered chakham - "wise".

According to more or less traditional practitioners of Chasidut:

  • חכמה -- (chokhmah, wisdom) is the ability of the mind to produce insights and form them into a new concepts.
  • בינה -- (binah, understanding) is the mind's ability to take a new insight, analyze its implications, and distill its meaning in more familiar language. Binah is the ability to understand one thing from within another, to discern, differentiate, and so on.
  • דעת -- (da’at, knowledge or reason) is the mind's ability to focus and hold its concentration, as well as to use memory.

Note: The name Chabad (חבד), of the Lubavitch Chasidim, is an acronym for Chokhmah, Binah, and Da’at.

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