Sunday, March 03, 2013

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words?

by @azigra

This photo was shared around Facebook last week, juxtaposing the first blessing of Grace After Meals with a few starving children somewhere in Africa. This photo could really have been taken anywhere in the world, as poor and hungry children and adults and even animals can be found everywhere. 

Starving children do not have to be an argument against the existence of God for you (thought it is often cited as proof that God is either evil or doesn't exist) but it may be an argument against the claims made in this blessing. The Talmud suggests this blessing was composed by Moshe our Rabbi. Let's assume this is correct, or even argue that it was written in the Talmudic era, it is fair to assume that pre-twitter, internet, newspapers, etc. it was easy to believe that the whole world was similar to how you saw it. 

But can we say this blessing nowadays and mean it? Are the claims made true? Aren't there children in your own neighborhood who go to sleep hungry?  Can you go on saying that God "gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting." when you know it isn't true? Should this blessing me changed or removed from Grace After Meals?

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who, in His goodness, provides sustenance for the entire world with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives food to all flesh, for His kindness is everlasting. Through His great goodness to us continuously we do not lack [food], and may we never lack food, for the sake of His great Name. For He, benevolent G-d, provides nourishment and sustenance for all, does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures whom He has created, as it is said: You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Blessed are You, L-rd, who provides food for all.

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