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PRAYER PINGS #10

By instituting the morning beracha of מלביש ערומים (God Who clothes the naked) in Birkot HaShachar, Chazal cultivate an awareness of God's Presence in the most basic, seemingly mundane acts of life. In these two words, מלביש ערומים, which we see codified in Masechet Berachot 60b, we not only express gratitude to God for giving us the ability to clothe ourselves, but we also thank Him for being the One to clothe us. Why is the beracha framed this way, where God is מלביש, the One dressing us?

The answer is connected to the first time we see God clothe human beings. Immediately following their sin, God clothes Adam and Chava in Gan Eden, וילבשם (Bereshit 3:21). God provides clothing to alleviate the embarrassment Adam and Chava feel upon realizing their nakedness. With this historical Divine dressing in mind, we realize that the words מלביש ערומים are meant to remind us-- and even prompt us-- to relive and repair this story. Each day, we feel Adam and Chava's initial embarrassment in the face of nakedness. But we also feel the dignity God gave them-- dignity which He continues to give us.

Being God's holy people means that each of us is called to walk in His ways, which includes being מלביש ערומים. It is therefore our responsibility to imitate Him by clothing those who are naked, whether that means physically donating clothing to those in need or providing emotional dignity to those who are embarrassed or ashamed.  

In practical halacha, how we put on our clothes is also a personal opportunity for us to internalize this call to embody Divinely-gifted dignity. The Shulchan Aruch codifies the order in which we get dressed, first by putting on our tunic and then by stepping into our shoes (right then left). Throughout the details of getting dressed, Chazal emphasize tzniyut, since everything we do is seen by God and should been treated as such. This means that the details, including how we put on our shoes, impact the dignity that we create in God's world.

Tomorrow morning when you say מלביש ערומים, I encourage you to express gratitude for that which is basic, mundane, and normally taken for granted. And dare to ask yourself, 'How can I imitate God today by providing dignity to those who are embarrassed?'

--Rabbanit Alissa

Mon, August 19 2019 18 Av 5779