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In Judaism, a b'rakhah (Hebrew ברכה; plural b'rakhot; related to the word baruch) is a blessing, usually recited at a specific moment during a ceremony or other activity.

"After instructing the crowds to sit down on the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes and, looking up toward heaven, made a blessing [b'rakhah]" (Matthew 14:19 Jewish New Testament).

"When he had said this, he took bread, said the blessing [b'rakhah] to God in front of everyone, broke it and began to eat" (Acts 27:35 Jewish New Testament).

Jesus made a b'rakhah, or said a blessing. Although the text does not say so specifically, it is reasonable to suppose that he recited the customary b'rakhah ("benediction") which Jews have said for more than two thousand years before meals that include bread: "Barukh attah, Adonai Eloheynu, Melekh-ha'olam, haMotzi lechem min ha'aretz" ("Praised be you, Adonai our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth").

Here are two points to note about Jewish blessings at meals:

  • First, the blessing before the meal is short. A longer "Grace" (Birkat-HaMzon) is said after the meal. This seems sensible: one thanks God for something received; moreover, on a full stomach one can relax and express appreciation at length; but on an empty stomach, if the prayers become verbose, one's mind easily descends from Heaven to the table.

  • Second, the object of the blessing is God, not the food. It is unnecessary to say, as many Christians do, "Lord, bless this food to our bodies"; since food is already God's blessing to (Genesis 1:29 and Genesis 9:3-4)! Rather, we thank Him for providing it.