Melech + Ruach: Word Choices for Blessings

Written by: OneTable Team

Melech + Ruach: Word Choices for Blessings

At Shabbat dinners, you might hear different versions in the beginning of the blessings over candle lighting, wine, hand washing, and challah:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam or Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Ruach ha’olam.

What’s the meaning behind the words melech and ruach?

Ruach means “spirit, breath, or wind,” and melech means “king.” Some interpret melech as a metaphor for surrendering to a power that is higher than the ego. For others, this image just doesn’t resonate, and they choose to replace melech with the word ruach, which evokes the idea of the divine as an invisible life force that flows through all beings. In Hebrew, the word ruach is unique because it can take either or masculine or feminine verb–pretty cool! The ruach version is popular with those involved in the Jewish Renewal Movement.

The choice is yours, whichever feels like the best fit for you — and you can use whichever one you’re feeling that week!