For the past few months, I have thought considerably about many of the blessings recited at the start of morning prayers, as found in a traditional Jewish prayerbook.
In particular, I have wondered what precisely we hope to be thankful for in the blessing to God, “who gives sight to the blind.” This is seemingly in recognition of a process through which God continues a tradition from the very start of Genesis, of exposing the brightness of light from the darkest darkness of night.
Practically speaking, how frequently do blind people regain eyesight?
The Talmud in Berakhot 60b explains that this blessing of “Pokeach Ivrim” (lit. who gives sight to the blind) is to be recited upon waking in appreciation for having been able to open our eyes in the morning, reflecting on the time of our daily transition from the world of blindness to the world of sight.
On a deeper level, however, I believe that this blessing can offer not only a recognition of a miracle already fulfilled, but also can serve as a personal request to enlighten the activities throughout the remainder of the day. We ask for the strength, the ability, and most importantly the opportunity for us to open our eyes, and we ask that those aspects of our lives that had previously been darkened and hidden, be revealed to allow a glimpse into the light of clarity, now and forever.
Menachem Butler is the co–editor of the Seforim blog, devoted to Jewish bibliography and literature. www.seforim.blogspot.com