When Good Habits Backfire | Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Notes

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(This post is part of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Notes series.)

Chapter/Siman 6

In this chapter, we learn about something which I’ve already written about: the value of reciting a bracha — a blessing. While the importance seems to be understood in the text (you can read my past article on it learn about the benefit of incorporating the recitation of blessings in your daily life), this text tells how to recite a bracha.

  • Know which blessing you are about to recite so you don’t say God’s Name in vain.
  • Take time to understand and savor the meaning of what you’re saying.
  • Don’t recite the blessing solely out of habit and without thought.
  • Don’t multitask while reciting a blessing.
  • If someone makes a blessing around you that you agree with, say “amen” to it as well.
  • Etc.

The source texts used to substantiate the claim that you shouldn’t recite a blessing thoughtlessly comes from the prophet Isaiah 29:13:

“My Lord said: Because that people has approached [Me] with its mouth And honored Me with its lips, But has kept its heart far from Me, And its worship of Me has been A commandment of men, learned by rote—”

All too often, it’s easier to make poor decisions than choices that are good for us at the moment. Developing positive habits help to remove the friction of making great choices.

While we can afford to allow most habits to be mindless (drinking more water, exercising, etc.), there are instances where it’s worthwhile to “wake up” and be present. Spending time with loved ones, consuming useful content, and prayer — these are instances where only the cue to perform these activities should be habitual. While eating something can be a cue that you need to make a blessing, the blessing itself should not be a mindless utterance.

It’s important to remember which habits can afford to be mindless and which habits require mindless cues that lead to true mindfulness. Other positive habits can also be connected to others.

To try:

Cues

  • Eating can be a cue to make a blessing.
  • Putting your kids to bed can be a cue to exercise.
  • Etc.

Batching

  • Making coffee can be batched with practicing meditation.
  • Feeding the cat can be batched with going morning prayer.
  • Etc.

While I’d like to say that habit cues and habit batching were my ideas, I can’t take credit. I read about them in James Clear’s Atomic Habits which I recommend to everyone.


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Ken Lane

Intentional Living & Pragmatic Spirituality writer by night and early morning. Marketing writer by day. Musician. Family man. Jew. Okie. Meat popsicle.
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