Baruch Atah Hashem 2

We continue our new mini-series on Baruch Atah Hashem with our original segment on the subject, which initially appeared as Shemoneh Esrei 5.

Which three words do you say most often?

Over the course of your lifetime and even daily, which three words do you say most often? Men are obligated to recite at least 100 brachos daily (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, siman 46:3). Whether women share this obligation is subject to dispute. Even if they are not obligated, women also certainly recite many brachos daily. Therefore, the three words “Baruch Atah Hashem” are probably the three words that we utter most frequently, and they are arguably amongst the most important. We begin our Shemoneh Esrei with these words as well. If we focus our hearts and minds when saying these words (Men will make at least 35,400 brachos annually!), we possess the potential to infuse ourselves with emunah and yir’as Shamayim, to bring a constant flow of blessing to the entire world, to increase Hashem’s rachamim upon His people, and so much more – multiple times a day.


A) Hashem is the source of all brachahbrachah flows from Him to all. The word brachah comes from the words “breichas mayim” (a wellspring of water), where the water flows constantly without interruption. Just as a wellspring is the source of the constant flow of water, so too is Hashem the (exclusive) source of the constant flow of all brachah. (Rashba, Rabbeinu Bachya)

Hashem does not need our brachos. He wanted us to make brachos for our benefit. When we testify and internalize that He is the source of all brachos and recognize His hashgachah pratis (Divine providence), we merit to cause more brachah to flow to the world and to ourselves. “כל המברך מתברךKol ha’m’vareich misbareich” (Gemara Sotah 38). (Avudraham and other Rishonim)

B) Some Rishonim state that in fact reciting a brachah is (as if) for Hashem’s “benefit.” They point to a pasuk in Sh’mos where the word means to increase. Hashem wants to bring a constant flow of brachah onto the world. He designed the world to allow us the privilege to be the intermediaries to cause that flow to come down through our brachos and tefilos. This “allows” Hashem to fulfill His will of showering us with good. Thus, when we recite the word “Baruch,” we are asking that Hashem increase the flow of brachah to all the worlds and to our world, and fulfilling Hashem’s desire by facilitating His “ability” to flow brachah into the world.

Some offer a combined approach for “Baruch”: Hashem is the source of brachah, and it should be the will of Hashem that He increase His influence on the world so that He can be recognized to a greater extent.


While we have seen alternate meanings of the word “Baruch,” the word “Atah” is clear and unambiguous. It has only one meaning: Each and every one of us has the ability (and privilege) to turn directly to Hashem each time we say “Atah” (Chofetz Chaim, quoted in the sefer Tal’lei Oros). This word indicates an unusually high level of closeness since, although a rav must be spoken to in third person, we may address Hashem in second person.

Someone once approached HaRav Shmuel Auerbach shlita to ask him about the different meanings of “Baruch.” He was told that more important than which meaning we have in mind is to remember “Da lifnei mi atah omeid–Know before Whom you stand.” This is the most important kavanah in tefilah, the most important kavanah in brachos, and one of the most important principles by which to live our lives. In fact, in the Gemara in B’rachos 28b, when Rabbi Eliezer was ill, his students asked him to teach them the ways of life that would lead them to Olam HaBa. Knowing before Whom we stand was one of the three lessons Rabbi Eliezer taught them.


When Hashem’s name is in its form that we do not pronounce as written, the proper kavanah is [Hashem] “was, is, and always will be.” A deeper understanding is that He created something from nothing (was); He causes all to exist, since without Him nothing truly exists (is); and He is everlasting and eternal (will be). When Hashem’s name is spelled the way we pronounce it today, as it is in the words “Hashem s’fasai,” the proper kavanah is “Adon HaKol,” Master over all. (Shulchan Aruchsiman 5)

We have also seen the additional thought of “HaAdon sheli” – my Master (indicating a personal relationship with Hashem).

The Vilna Gaon, quoted by the Mishnah B’rurah (in siman 5) states that with the exception of Shema, even when Hashem’s name appears in written form, we may have only the kavanah of “Adon HaKol” in mind. For Shema, one is also required to have in mind “was, is, and always will be.”

May we be zocheh to succeed in our mission of bringing a constant, plentiful flow of blessing and compassion to the world, and to ourselves and loved ones, by focusing on knowing and feeling before beginning any brachah that we are standing before the source of all brachah, and may our brachos also succeed in becoming vehicles through which we come closer to Hashem with each heartfelt and focused brachah we recite.