The Blessing of a Commoner

תניא א”ר ישמעאל בן אלישע פעם אחת נכנסתי להקטיר קטורת לפני ולפנים וראיתי אכתריאל יה ה’ צבאות שהוא יושב על כסא רם ונשא ואמר לי ישמעאל בני ברכני אמרתי לו יה”ר מלפניך שיכבשו רחמיך את כעסך ויגולו רחמיך על מדותיך ותתנהג עם בניך במדת הרחמים ותכנס להם לפנים משורת הדין ונענע לי בראשו וקמ”ל שלא תהא ברכת הדיוט קלה בעיניך: -ברכות ז.

ואמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא לעולם אל תהי ברכת הדיוט קלה בעיניך שהרי שני גדולי הדור ברכום שני הדיוטות ונתקיימה בהן ואלו הן דוד ודניאל דוד דברכיה ארונה דכתיב (שמואל ב כד) ויאמר ארונה אל המלך וגו’ דניאל דברכיה דריוש דכתיב (דניאל ו) אלהך די אנת פלח ליה בתדירא הוא ישיזבינך -מגילה טו.

It was repeated [in a Beraisa]: Rav Yishma’el ben Alisha [the Kohein Gadol] said, “One time I entered to bring the Qetores before Hashem and inside the Holy of Holies [on Yom Kippur]. I saw the Enthrowned G-d, Master of all forces, as though He were sitting on a high and exalted throne.
“He said to me ‘Yishma’el My son, bless me.’
“I said to Him, ‘May it be the Will before You that Your Mercy should conquer Your Anger, and Your Mercy will be revealed over all Your Attributes, and May You conduct with your children in the attribute of Mercy, and bring them in beyond the limits of the law.’
“He nodded to me with his head. From this we can learn that the blessing of a commoner should not be trivial in your eyes.”

– Berakhos 7a

Rabbi Eliezer also said in the name of Rabbi Chanina, “Always make sure that the blessing of a commoner not be trivial in your eyes. For two greats of their respective generations were blessed by two commoners, and they were fulfilled. They were David and Daniel.
David, who was blessed by Arvenah, as it says “… and Arvenah said to the king, [‘May Hashem your G-d accept you.’]” (Shmuel II 24:23)
Daniel, who was blessed by Darius, as it says “[Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and threw him into the den of lions. The king declared and said to Daniel,] ‘Your G-d, Whom you continually serve, May He deliver you.’ (Daniel 6:17)”

-Megillah 15a

Sidenote: The word hedyot comes to Aramaic from the Greek. “Iδιώτης, idiōtēs (“person lacking professional skill,” “a private citizen,” “individual”), from ἴδιος, idios (“private,” “one’s own”). Similarly in Latin, an idiota is a private person, a layman. Someone in an Athenian democracy who didn’t involve themselves in public affairs were looked down upon, particularly by the sort of people whose writings were preserved for the ages. From that derogatory connotation evolved the English word “idiot”. However, the Aramaic usage is more literal.

Usually we take this saying “do not let a common person’s blessing be trivial in your eyes” as a statement about how we should treasure getting a blessing from anyone. If G-d could beg a human being for a blessing, or Avrenah or the gentile king Darius could save a David or Daniel with their blessings, who knows what the words of someone you pass on the street might do for you?

The thought crossed my mind that it also has a second implication: We must be more free in wishing good upon others! No one can say, “What difference does it make? Who am I, that my blessing should matter?”

You are a child of the Infinite Creator, made in His Image. Even the lowliest person carries tremendous power.

The Baal Shem Tov notes that Hashem created the world through speech. (See this essay on the various models used for understanding creation for more on this topic.) It is not that Hashem said “Let there be light!” and POOF! there was light. Rather, the very words “let there be light” as Hashem utters them, are what we call light. Dibbur, speech, and davar, object are different perceptions of the same thing. This is also why the”Breath” that the Creator breathed into man is called by the Targum “ru’ach memalela a speaking spirit.”

This gives us an idea of the incredible potential of words. We often discuss this fact when exhorting people to watch what they say for lashon hara, slander and gossip.

However, the potential can also not be neglected when considering the importance of speaking positively.

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