In the morning blessings, we thank G-d for various things. We thank Him for "opening the eyes" (poke'ach ivrim), "releasing the bound" (matir asurim), "straightening the bent" (zokef k'fufim), etc.
However, the first of these blessings doesn't really match the rest:
ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, הנותן (נ''א אשר נתן) לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who gives (also: "who gave") the rooster understanding to differientiate between day and night.
Why do we thank G-d for this? It doesn't matter to me whether the rooster knows the difference or not. I have an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. People haven't used roosters to wake them up for many, many years.
But yet this blessing can't be obsolete. I have often wondered if there was a deeper meaning to this blessing.
I learned that שכוי (sechvi) can mean "heart" (from the ArtScroll Siddur).1 If you translate "day" and "night" metaphorically to mean good and evil (day is light; night is dark), then the blessing gets way more meaningful (to me):
Blessed are You... who gives the heart understanding to differientiate between light and dark (good and evil).
Is this a proper understanding of this blessing? I'd like to know what real Torah sources think about this.
1. It's not strange that a word meaning "rooster" can also relate to mankind. גבר (g'var) means both "man" and "rooster".