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Can someone help me with this? The structure of the brocha is that we are thanking Hashem:

(1) who creates numerous living things with their deficiencies; (2) for all that Hashem has created (al kol shebarasa).

My problem is that it seems that (1) and (2) should be reversed. Surely Hashem created the world for the use in the appropriate way of all living things.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Leslie and thanks for this first question. Can I recommend you take the tour to get a sense of how the site works? Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jul 5 at 3:25
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This article explains that there are actually three parts, not two. Excerpts:

The Tur (OC 207) explains that this berakha consists of three distinct parts, almost like three separate blessings:

First, we acknowledge that HaShem provides the needs of all souls, of everything He created. “Who creates many souls and [fills] their deficiency”, that is, provides for their needs.

Second, we thank Him for everything He created in order to enliven us. This includes enjoyments which are not in the category of a need or lack, but rather are pleasures which enliven us. “For everything He created, in order to enliven all living things.”

Finally, we acknowledge that HaShem is the “life of the worlds”.

Indeed, according to the Yerushalmi (Berakhot 6:1), the body of this blessing says merely: “Who creates many souls in order to enliven the soul of every living thing.” Here it seems clear that the term “nefashot” or souls refers to the food we eat. According to the Yerushalmi’s wording, the blessing explicitly refers to the hidden spirituality present in all permissible pleasures of this world; and even the customary wording implicitly hints at this spirituality and soulfulness.

Secondly, the plain sense of the wording suggests that we are thanking God for our deficiencies! We interpreted this as thanks for filling deficiency. Yet the concepts are related, for we get a sense of satisfaction from eating only because we feel hunger. And on the spiritual level, we are able to assimilate and absorb the “souls” of the permitted food only because they correspond to a particular spiritual hunger, which we have exactly because of our “deficiency” – which is just another way of saying a potential for growth.

The second part of the berakha continues in the same vein, referring to the ability of God’s creation to enliven and invigorate us spiritually – to enliven the soul of all living things. Again, the emphasis is on the ability of material pleasures to provide spiritual sustenance. Rebbe Natan of Breslav explains that this is why we give precedence in blessings to foods we like better: our personal likes and dislikes testify to our spiritual needs.

The closing of the blessing refers to HaShem as “the life of the worlds”. In the mystic tradition, this particular appellation refers to that aspect of God’s providence that provides an interface between the material and the spiritual worlds. (See for example Zohar Chayei Sarah I:132a.) It is through this interface that the material world is enlivened, for without spiritual force from on high the world would wither instantly.

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