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Thanking the rooster

    The first of the fifteen Birkot Hashachar (dawn blessings) that are said first thing in the morning thanks God for “giving the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night”. The wording is from Job 38:36 –“who gave understanding to the rooster [sechvi]”.

    When most people lived a rural life, the rooster’s cry defined the start of day. Rashi, however, cites another definition of sechvi: the heart, perhaps responding to Jewish urbanisation. In which case, the blessing would read, “Who gave the heart understanding to distinguish between night and day”. That is the preferred translation of the Mishnah Berurah.

    Thinking of the rooster’s cry (that I rarely hear), reminds me of being in sync with nature. On the other hand, a healthy inner biological clock that gets me up in the morning (sometimes even without an alarm) is also something to be thankful for.

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