God created this world for us to enjoy it. We are charged to go out into the world, find the beauty in it and realize that this beauty is an expression of God’s awesomeness. It is an inherently Jewish concept to appreciate the beauty and awesomeness in the world, not regard it as evil and block it out as some other religions do. We are told countless times throughout the Torah about the wonders of God’s creations and how a Jew should look at these as an opportunity to connect with God. For example, “מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, יְהוָה– כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ;מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, קִנְיָנֶךָ – How awesome are your creations, God? You made all of them with wisdom! The entire world is filled with your awesome creations” (Psalms 104:24). This line shows us the importance, as Jews, of opening up our eyes and seeing the world around us as an expression of God’s awesomeness. The following story illustrates this concept well:
Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, told his students that he was planning to travel to Switzerland. It surprised them: Switzerland was an unusual destination for a German rabbi; what could he possibly want in Switzerland? He told them that when he died, he would come before God, and God would ask how he spent his life. He knew that he could recount all of his learning and all of his praying and all of his good deeds, but what would he say when God asked him, “But Shimshon, did you ever see My Alps?”
This story shows us exactly how Judaism looks at the beauty of the world around us, it is there for us to enjoy and appreciate! That is exactly why the Sages and Prophets wrote blessings specifically for use in situations when we encounter God’s amazing world. There are blessings for all types of situations, maybe I will spend some time going over a few of them, but today we are talking about the beach…
Today’s Jewish mission is to go to the beach and, for a few minutes, instead of trying to pick up girls/guys, show off your surfing skills, or get a tan, take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness that is the ocean and the beach. Take a look at the beach from a Jewish perspective and be humbled, for a moment, by its awesomeness and in turn, realize how amazing and awesome God is for giving us such a beautiful and awesome world. Now you can say the blessing over seeing the ocean, and add in any other stuff you want to say to God about how amazing the world he gave us is…see the text of the blessing below:
Just one note: If you have seen the ocean in the last 30 days, do not use God’s names in making the blessing.