My children's life experience is 200 percent different than mine was at their age in every way possible. Yet, it's amazing how certain things from my childhood can sneak into their lives without their knowing it.
For example, somewhere in the beginning of my marriage, I used the term I heard from Rush Limbaugh, "With talent on loan from G-d." I don't know, it's a funny line. A true one, as well. It seems that my wife, who was raised in a very liberal house, also found the line funny, even while hating the source, and she started using it more than I. And now, my kids started using it, without having any clue what the source is.
This morning, we had another case. My wife realized that the baby had a dirty diaper, so my six-year-old son used the same line she would use on me, which she learned from me, which I learned from Star Trek. He cried out, with a big smile on his face, "Abba to the bridge!" Of course, he has no idea what that means, but it's something she sometimes says to me when she needs my help (with something gross). And now, my child who can't speak a full sentence in English without some Hebrew in it, is calling out commands from Star Trek.
Do I feel pride or feel bad for them?
I started learning the laws of davening this week, after nearly two years on a previous subject. It's a bit long, but a bit easier, and still very interesting and relevant.
On my first day, I ran into something interesting. Every morning, we start off with a list of brachos, in which we thank Hashem for all the different types of chesed that He gives us every day. Each bracha is in the present tense: "Who spreads out the land over the waters, Who girds Israel with strength, etc."
However, there is one, and possibly a second, bracha that is in the past tense. The first, is "Who provided me with all my needs." Several commentators also have the text, "Who prepared the steps of man," rather than what we have "Who prepares the steps of man."
So, the big question is, why are all these important brachos in the present while one, and according to some, two, brachos are in the past?
Many of the commentators explain that the reason the brachos are in the present is because these are things that Hashem is constantly doing--every day, every moment. In fact, Hashem is constantly "recreating the world." Therefore, we keep the brachos in the present tense.
So, what's different about "Who provided me with all my needs" and according to some, "Who prepared the steps of man"?
I'll offer my own never-to-be humble opinion, and if I'm wrong … well … sorry. But, if not, I claim all the glory!
(Please note: Most of today's siddurim have only one bracha in the past "Who provided me with all my needs. However, some, including, I saw, the Frankfurt Siddur, has also "Who prepared the steps of man" in the past. I'll attempt to answer both, since they are related to each other.)
As mentioned, all of the brachos that we say in this section, are giving thanks to Hashem for different goods that He gives us every day. However, these two could be looked at in a different light. They are a bit more general, and represent not specific goods, but rather represent how we look at the day ahead. How so?
The first: Who prepared for all my needs. When we begin the day, instead of worrying about how we are going to feed ourselves or afford our mortgage or rent, or this or that, we need to understand that Hashem has already taken care of that. What will be will be. Whatever physical actions we take to attain those goods are only "a show." While we do our work, we know that in the end, we only receive what He gives. Therefore, we need to look at our income as "already taken care of" as we begin each day. No need to worry about what is or will be, since it's already been taken care of.
The second bracha, which according to some is: "Who prepared the steps of man" is looked at in a similar way. We don't necessarily control all that happens in life. Many times, Hashem has a plan and has already planned out your day for you. He wants you at a certain place to experience something, and you WILL end up there. He has ALREADY prepared it. While we don't always have free choice on what occurs to us, we DO have free choice on how we handle it (which is itself a source of growth). Therefore, according to those who have this bracha in the past, we are acknowledging that Hashem has already planned out our day, and sometimes we have to "go with the flow," see where He takes us, and learn and grow from the experience.
So, perhaps, this might explain why at least one bracha is in the past tense. Not to say that Hashem created the world and left it at that, but perhaps to teach us that sometimes we need to accept that we are not always in the driver's seat and Hashem has already taken care of whatever physical and spiritual needs that we need.
Have a great Shabbos!