Take the power of speech, for instance.
Our Sages say — and this is referred to in the Zohar — that speech shapes reality. Words that are given expression do not evaporate. They hover in the world’s atmosphere and bestow certain influences. To paraphrase Our Sages: Our lips seal the deal. We are warned, therefore: Man’s mouth should never give Satan an opening. Speech forms reality and we must be careful not to verbalize negative things with our mouth. Positive speech, on the other hand — prayer, words of Torah and blessings — have a positive impact on the world.
Current research supports this and demonstrate the enormous power that speech has on everything in the universe — even on things like air and on water. A positive phrase creates radiates outwards from our mouth and positively impacts its surroundings, whereas negative speech — such as profanity and curses — creates negative influences that spread through the atmosphere and cause harm.
Several researchers have each told me, separately, about a self-imposed experiment that they held. The outcome was similar to all. After relating their experience in public, people in the audience went home and tried repeating the experiment. They then sent us the photos with proof of their results, excited at the resemblance.
What was the experiment?
Researchers placed pairs of saucers side by side with a handful of beans in each, cocooned in a wad of cotton-wool. They flushed one dish with regular tap water, but first infused the water in the other dish with spiritual power. They either recited the blessing over water, or said a few chapters of Psalms next to the glass, before pouring it over the cotton-covered beans in the second dish. Apart from this spiritual modification, there was no difference between the dishes. Neither the water source, nor their quantity, or the temperature of the air was any different. After a while, the beans sprouted.
The contrast was startling. The beans that had been watered with “blessed” water, or water that had been exposed to Tehillim (Psalms), sprouted faster and taller, by tens of percentiles, than their “standard water” counterparts. Essentially, the water had been enhanced by the spiritual words, making it healthier, stronger and more effective.
If a blessing can make a difference to water or plants, it will obviously impact the man who drinks it. But that is only a side-benefit.
We don’t recite a blessing because it has power. We recite our blessings because it is the truth. As the Talmud states (Berachot 35a): “Man is forbidden to enjoy anything of this world without a blessing, and he who partakes of this world without a blessing — is stealing.” The Talmud continues to present an ostensible contradiction between two verses. One verse states: “The entire universe and everything in it belongs to Hashem.” And yet, another verse states: “Earth was given to Mankind.” Whom does earth belong to? The Talmud settles the question by saying: The first applies before we make a blessing; the latter is valid after the blessing. While it is true that all our food belongs to our Creator and we are forbidden to just take it… Hashem Himself has granted mankind permission to make use of all this goodness once we recite the appropriate blessing.
In Kabbalistic thought, the acts of blessing and eating possess a deeper layer of significance. Just as there are souls who reincarnate as different peoples, or even animals, there are souls who are reborn into plants.
When a person picks up a fruit and makes a blessing over it, if there is a soul inhabiting that fruit he is doing a great act of kindness with that soul. Instead of the soul having to undergo a long, arduous process of rectification, a blessing said with the right intent can effect a rapid tikkun — the rectification needed by this particular soul.
As we know, this is the world of action. A small deed down here has the power to jump-start complex chains of consequences high in the Upper Worlds.
Adapted from ‘Man and His Universe’ by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Coming to you soon in English