Hiddur (Beautify) Your Mitzvah
Hiddur (Beautify) Your Mitzvah
Projects & Crafts
Tags: Ritual , Art Education 

Project by: Rae Antonoff, raeandesigns.com

- Introduce the concept of hiddur mitzvah
- Expose students to the mitzvah of brachah/blessing
- Discuss ways to make our brachot beautiful

Objectives: By the end of the lesson, students should be able to…
- Define hiddur mitzvah
- Explain how blessings and beauty can be connected
- Illustrate a blessing and explain why they chose their images


  • “Blessable” items (foods such as bread, fruit, root vegetables; scented items such as spices, fragrant oils or candles; other objects such as a tallit, a pair of tied shoes, a picture of a rainbow, photo of a storm, etc.)

  • Large printout of Deuteronomy 8:10 

  • Basic Blessing Sheets, edited down to the ones you intend to use for the Brachah Book (not just the ones represented by the “blessable” items you have)

  • Hat, bowl, cup, or something to draw the blessing names out of

  • Blank paper cut into 5” squares 

  • Pencils, pens; markers, colored pencils, etc. (OR) construction paper, glue sticks

Choose whether to do the illustrations through drawing or torn-paper illustration – or you can offer both options. Pare down the Basic Blessing Sheets  to the blessings you plan on including in the Brachah Book. Go through the Brachah Book Template, remove the same ones as on the Blessing Sheet, and determine which (approximately half) of the blessings should be illustrated, as opposed to given a calligram. I assigned them semi-randomly, but sometimes based on which blessing subject seemed to lend itself better to one of the other. Feel free to switch them up, just keep the ratio even. (It also doesn’t matter which goes on what side of the fold. It’s a template you can rearrange as you see fit.) Cut apart the blessings on one copy of the Basic Blessing Sheets, taking out those that will be illustrated and setting the rest aside for Session. 
Set up “blessable” items around the room. Have copies of the Basic Blessing Sheets in a few places around the room for students to take when they’re ready.
Write brachah/bracha on the board, as well as mitzvah/ (Leave enough room in front of it to add hiddurlater.).

SET INDUCTION (2 minutes)
Address students:

  • Stand by the thing that you think is the most awesome, that fills you with the most awe – the one that whoever created it is the most awesome person ever. 

ORIENTATION (20 minutes)
Each of these things has a blessing in the Jewish tradition. Everyone standing at each object, work together. Can you find the proper blessing for yours on one of the Blessing Sheets?
Go around the room, asking each group to read their blessing.

  • Why do we bless these things? (They’re special, make life better, etc.)

  • Why do we bless anything at all? (To show gratitude/appreciation, because we’re commanded to…)

  • The Hebrew for a commandment is one of the words on the board. Does anyone know what it is? (Mitzvah)

  • The Torah gives us 613 commandments. One of those is in Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 10: “uveirachta et Adonai Elohecha –You shall bless Adonai your God.” (Post the printout of Deuteronomy 8:10 somewhere easily visible in the room.) Now, when we see, use, or otherwise enjoy the things here, it’s a mitzvah to say a brachah, a blessing, over it. (Point to “brachah” on the board.) 

  • The whole point of this mitzvah is to recognize the beauty around us, all the wonderful things in Creation. So should we just quickly mutter the blessing, rushing through it? Why not? (Doing so would be okay… as a bare minimum. But it’s not very pleasant.)

  • When we make a mitzvah beautiful, it’s called hiddur mitzvah. (Add hiddur/ ??????? to the board.) The rabbis wrote in the Talmud that when we perform a mitzvah with beauty, God is glorified and smiles on the People of Israel. So if we’re blessing things to thank God for creating those awesome things, how can we make sure we observe the mitzvah with all the beauty it deserves? (Take all ideas, and write them on the board – help them brainstorm!)

  • To be able to say the blessings at the right time, it can be nice to have a guide to which blessing to say for what. It’s a bit much to memorize all those options, right? But we also run into these things all throughout the day – we eat bread multiple times a day, who knows when we’ll pass by a nice-smelling tree, and we certainly can’t plan when we’ll see a rainbow next! So why don’t we create a way for us to see the blessing options wherever we go? We’ll make a Brachah Book, a Blessing Book, that can fit into your pocket… or it can go on a smartphone like an app! 

  • Once we have a Brachah Book, we’ll be presenting it to other classes with a tour of the brachot they might say around the school. That’s later in the year, though. Today you’ll be doing an illustration of what it looks like do hiddur mitzvah with a brachah, to offer a beautiful blessing, for one of these things we can bless. This illustration will be part of the Brachah Book!

Pass out the small blank papers and either drawing utensils or construction paper and glue. Go around the room asking students to draw a blessing from the “hat” (or cup, bowl, etc.). It’s then their job to find the beauty in the subject of that blessing, and create a beautiful illustration for it!
Continue circulating around the room, encouraging students to explain how their illustrations portray hiddur mitzvah as you come by:

  • Tell me about the colors you chose. 

  • Why did you choose that picture to represent your blessing?

  • What do you think will be the most beautiful part of your illustration when it’s done?

  • What do you want your illustration inspire someone to think, feel, or do? Do you think it does that? If not, how could you add to it to make it more beautiful and inspiring?

  • How does your picture show or create hiddur mitzvah?

Make sure students put their name and the subject of their blessing on the back of their illustration.

WRAP-UP (2 minutes)
Ask everyone to point out the part of their illustrations that shows the most beauty for the blessing, and say one word of how they want someone seeing it to feel. (Grateful, awed, appreciative, thankful, honored, respectful, etc. – encourage deeper words than “good”!)