On Sunday, my wife and I finally made it to the kosher deli on Main Street in downtown Metuchen called The Orchid. We were one of three groups partaking in the wonderful delectable’s they had to offer. On one side sat a completely secular couple while on the other was an observant husband and wife debating with a secular guest who, once the food arrived (in the middle of their conversation), got up from the table, washed their hands , and recited the bracha "Netilat Yadayim".
I noticed their act of devotion to G-d but it didn’t fully register until after the meal. As they sat quietly and said Birkat HaMazon to themselves, I felt my painful lack of gratefulness for the gifts from G-d that I still take for granted. I was confronted with my biggest challenges in my striving to become more observant: my lack of knowledge and awareness!
It is not simply a matter of learning the blessings; I can begin by reading and learn when and how to say them. My daily consciousness has to be shifted to see and acknowledge the presence of G-d in everything I see, everything I do, and every gift that is given to me. It is not just a matter of the blessings surrounding meals; it is a matter of thanking Hashem for another day, for another Shabbat, for life, for health, for the beautiful things in life, for Torah, for all the gifts that I am granted and all the opportunities G-d provides.
It is going to be a long process and a difficult transition to make but, no matter how many times the old habits breach the surface, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn, to be closer to G-d, to enjoy life. Sometimes, all I can say is, “Baruch Hashem!”