For some reason, I woke up hearing the words of many people’s prayers just prior to a meal, “Lord, bless this food that you have given to us…” It just won’t get out of my head. So, I thought I would just give some insight to this little phrase, and explain how this is sort of an oxymoron (and I’m not talking about myself on the ‘moron’ part!).
In Jewish thought, this is a foreign concept — and for good reason. Why? Well, let’s think about what we are saying. We are asking God to bless (in a sense “make better”) what He has already given us. When we ask the Lord to “bless” the food which He has given us, it’s almost a slap in the face.
Think of it this way… “Blessings are for kids, silly rabbit.” Yes, I’m playing off of the advertising slogan “Trix are for kids, silly rabbit.” But that’s the point. Blessings are for people, not for things. Blessings are to confer health, prosperity, longevity, etc. They are never to confer “edibility” or “nutritiousness.”
Yeshua sets this example when he breaks bread:
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.
Mark 6:41 (NIV)
In this case, the NIV has rendered this passage more accurately than other translations. The NASB renders it as follows: “And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves…” However, in the Greek the object of the blessing is missing. It simply states “He blessed.” It is assumed by the translators that the object of the blessing is the food, since this is our Western tradition. However, this would have been as foreign to Yeshua as bacon with his eggs. The object of blessing, especially in the case of food, is Hashem.
Paul agrees with this line of thinking and clearly states this when he says the following:
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
1 Timothy 4:4 & 5
- The food is to be received with thanksgiving — a prayer of thankfulness, which is the traditional Jewish bracha, which traditionally begins “Blessed are You, oh Lord, our God, King of the Universe…” — not “bless this food”
- because it is consecrated(set apart, designated, distinguished) by the word of God (Vayikra / Leviticus 11; Devarim / Deuteronomy 14)
- and prayer. Consecrated by prayer, not blessed. One cannot bless what God detests and calls an abomination.
Let’s remember to bless Hashem for his provision, and not try to tell Him that what He has given us is not good enough.
Blessed are You, oh Lord, our God, King of the Universe Who brings forth food from the earth.