A Book Review by Breindy Reiss
Expressing gratitude to Hashem for all the bounty He provides us is a Biblical mitzvah that is incumbent upon men and women when they finish a meal. We call this “bentching,” most commonly known as “Grace after Meals.” Unfortunately, for many of us it has turned into the ‘Race after Meals.’ Why have we become so insensitive in our gratitude to Hashem? Perhaps, the reason is because this mitzvah is done so frequently. Perhaps it is because we know the bentching by heart or perhaps it is because bentchers aren’t always nearby. Still, to say the least, this precious mitzvah is being neglected.
Boruch Hashem, a new sefer has been released which has the ability to reawaken within everyone and lead us to the proper fulfillment of showing gratitude to Hashem though our bentching. Power Bentching, written by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, Shlit”a, Rav of Agudas Yisroel of Staten Island, is a guide for how to do this mitzvah properly and enjoyably. Power Bentching reveals the blessings and benefits bestowed upon those who bentch slowly, and reading audibly these precious words found within the bentching. Rav Weiss also uncovers many meanings of the sacred words and opens for us the possibility to tap into the incredible powers of blessings that bentching releases. Indeed, each word is explained, many with myriads of explanations from sources in Tanach, Talmud, Medrashim, as well as commentaries by sages of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Chassidic traditions. Tales from our rich past, halachic disputes, down to earth examples and fascinating parables, surprising gematriyos and hidden roshei teivos (commentary based on numerical or letter representations) abound. Also, there are many nuances of meanings as well as subtle variations in the dikduk (grammar) that are explained in a clear and concise manner. Indeed, there is something for everyone - scholars, yeshiva students and Bais Yaakov girls, Rebbeim and m’chanchos, fathers, mothers, and even young readers will all gain new insights. Whether by learning a few pages daily or making this sefer part of your Shabbos and Yom Tov table, Power Bentching is bound to be a family favorite. Power Bentching can be the source material of mini-lessons or part of subject matter taught in Yeshivas, Bais Yaakovs, Day Schools and summer camps. It can be learned privately or in a group setting. It is no surprise that Power Bentching has won the approval and praise of Torah Umesorah.
Rabbi Weiss’s writing style is very pleasant and inviting. Sources are given for all the commentaries. Translations of words and phrases in Hebrew have been rendered into English with great precision. Each page is designed in such a way that you can concentrate on the word being discussed and at the same time not lose track of its place within the bentching. This is accomplished in part through multi-color print and the incredible graphic talent of Sonnshine Design.
Rabbi Weiss also deals with deep and difficult topics in an exciting way. What is the history behind each blessing? How can a human being “bless” (so to speak) Hashem? What are some deeper meanings of the four-letter Name of Hashem? How does that Name of Hashem differ from the Name Elokim? What are some of the reasons the martyrs of Beitar are mentioned each time we bentch? How does bentching impact important matters such as emunah, bitachon, or parnasah? Importantly, Power Bentching, by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, has rabbinical haskomos (approbations) from leading Gedolei Yisroel. They have blessed the author that his sefer find its way into the hearts of all Jews to bring them closer to our Father in Heaven. They have expressed the idea that bentching is a mitzvah that needs to be elevated and kept in an honored manner by all. Indeed, the author of one of these haskomos states that he read the entire sefer and that his own bentching has been elevated.
May it be Hashem’s will that Power Bentching be widely accepted and distributed to all, and empower our bentching to become the mitzvah it was meant to be.
The book is available by contacting Rav Weiss at 718-916-3100 or emailing him at Rmmwsi@aol.com.