Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Twenty Seconds of Gratitude

The medium seems modest: a cheerful poster with whimsical illustrations and the text of a brachah most know by heart. But its reach — outside millions of restrooms in households, institutions, and buildings worldwide — has revolutionized our attitude toward a daily activity that might be considered mundane. Who’s behind those ubiquitous “asher yatzar” signs around the globe?

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

shiur

MULTILINGUAL The posters have been translated into ten languages, including Hebrew, English, Yiddish, French, Persian, Russian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. “Somebody once asked if I could do it in Turkish, so I said, ‘Why not?’”

Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Shimshon Halperin of Monsey, New York, witnessed something troubling at the haneitz minyan he attended. 

“I noticed a man exiting the restroom. He’s a renowned talmid chacham and maggid shiur, someone well-respected who davens Shemoneh Esreh for so long, he often misses chazaras hashatz,” remembers Mr. Halperin, who works in real estate. 

“He was holding his phone and dialing as he was saying asher yatzar. Imagine! Just to save the five seconds of dialing he would do after finishing the brachah. Here was a learned person, an oved Hashem, who didn’t realize the importance of the brachah of asher yatzar. It hurt me to see that, and I knew I had to do something.” 

That “something” culminated in a global campaign that has prompted Jews of all ages and sectors to stop and verbalize their appreciation for every crevice and vessel and cell of the most complex machine ever created — the human body. 

BUOYED BY THE FORCE of his own appreciation for the brachah — as well as the troubling sight he’d seen at shul — Mr. Halperin dreamed up the idea to hang up illustrated posters outside restrooms that would prompt people to say the asher yatzar brachah properly. With the help of his sister-in-law, he contacted a graphic designer to create the posters. A local friend was the illustrator. “The illustrations are the most important part of this project,” Mr. Halperin says. “I had him draw a stop sign smack in the middle of the poster and placed right before the brachah, to remind you what you need to do before saying asher yatzar: Stop. Think. Take time.” 

The sign was also designed with an arrow at the upper right-hand corner, directing you how to read it: left to right, as one reads Hebrew. The graphics include a depiction of the five senses of the human body and a comics-style illustration of the progression of the life cycle, from childhood to old age. Most prominent is the picture of a human heart with a tiny blockage, followed by a man suffering a cardiac arrest. 

The illustrations, while charming, aren’t meant to be humorous. Mr. Halperin planned them as a wake-up call. 

“The miracles of the human body are impossible to fathom,” he says, “but the brachah makes it clear. If one closure opens, or if one opening closes, it would be impossible to stay alive. Just saying those words slowly and then thinking of their importance changes anyone’s day.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Behind the Scenes, Pesach Mega-Issue 5777)

Related Stories

Shabbos Crown

C. Rosenberg

For chassidim around the world, it’s a non-negotiable part of their Shabbos wardrobe. But ask any ex...

Making the Grade

Dovid Sussman

With a computerized phone system, automatic bank transfers, and a team of administrators, you’d thin...

Everybody’s Wall

Esther Teichtal

For the multitudes who approach the Kosel each year, the experience is all about connection. People ...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?