Everybody Poops

March 30, 2011 | By

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There’s a Jewish practice of saying a blessing before eating any food–a spiritual equivalent of saying thank you to the “chef.” But did you know that there’s also a blessing for food that’s on its way out?

The blessing for going to the bathroom is known as “asher yatzar” (which translates simply as “The Creator“). Its words don’t focus on the act itself, but on the miracle that our bodies are designed precisely, with remarkable systems inside them. The ancient rabbis didn’t know the details of how our bodies functioned, but they were aware of how complicated it must be: “If one of those organs would be blocked where it’s normally open, or open where it’s normally closed, it would be impossible to survive for even a moment,” says the prayer.

The prayer was first mentioned in the Talmud (Berakhot 60b). According to the famed Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, saying it regularly and with devotion will bring a person good health and a long life. More directly, it’s a way of reminding ourselves that we can find greater meaning in every single aspect of our lives–even, well, poop.

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