Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
FOCUS ON TEFILLAH ARCHIVE
HaRav Yonasan Eibeshutz, Z’tl, writes that this
bracha especially reminds us that we must daven for our Tzaddikim.
As HaRav Eibeshutz writes “Vechol
Zeman SheTzaddikim BaOlam, Bracha VeTova BaOlam.”
In fact, we mention five different groupings of great people at the
outset of the Bracha--Tzaddikim, Chassidim, Zikeinim, Pleitas Sofreihem, and
Gerei HaTzeddek. One can
definitely think about or visualize the five different kinds of great people
who are encompassed by this bracha. For
instance, when reciting “VeAl Ziknei
Amecha Beis Yisroel,” we can think about our Zikeinim and that we are
davening to Hashem that He give them life and good health.
The Seder HaYom writes that
we are really moving up in ascending order through the five groupings, as
the Ger Tzeddek represents an epitome, having raised himself up from being
wholly unaffiliated with the Jewish people, to his current position.
HaRav Eibeshutz adds that when mentioning the term Gerei Tzeddek, we
should reflect upon our love for him/them and be Mekayeim the Mitzvah
DeOraysa of VeAhavtem Es HaGer! After
we mention this wonderful list--beginning with the Tzaddikim and ending with
the Gerei Tzeddek--we add ourselves--V’Aleinu
for Hashem’s consideration. What
a precious opportunity it is to be able to add ourselves to this great list!
The Kuntres Avodas
HaTefillah brings the Midrash (Tanchuma, Parashas Shmini 11) which
teaches “just as a bird cannot fly without wings--so too can K’lal
Yisroel not function without our Zekanim”.
We therefore ask that Hashem arouse His Mercy (Yehemu NaRachamecha)
upon them--for they are needed by us all.
We also ask that Hashem arouse His Mercy on the Pleitas
Sofreihem. Who are they? The
Kuntres explains that they are the remainder of the Talmidei Chachomim who
are Osek BaTorah and the Melamdei Tinokos--the teachers of school children
who deserve our special mention. Together
with these great group--we are allowed to add ourselves
with the word VeAleinu.
We demonstrate that we want to
be in the right company--and thus plead to be treated likewise.
What a powerful opportunity!
According to the Sefer BeRumo Shel Olam, there are 42 words in the bracha, corresponding to
the 42 letters in the Pasuk of VaAvarecha Mevorechecha (Bereishis 12:3).
The BeRumo Shel Olam
also brings the teaching of the Tur that this bracha contains every letter of the Aleph Bais.
We ask Hashem that he have complete mercy on us all.
We then plead with Hashem to give a “Sachar Tov L’chol HaBotchim
B’Shimcha B’Emes--a good reward for those who truly believe in You.”
The Steipler Gaon, Z’tl notes that every Mitzvah that one performs
will be rewarded in Olam Habah--why would the Mitzvah of Bitachon be any
different? What are we asking
for here? He answers that we are
not requesting reward in Olam Habah with these words.
Rather, as Dovid Hamelech teaches us in Tehillim (32:10),
“Haboteach BaHashem Chesed Yesovivenu--one who trusts in Hashem is
surrounded by kindness.” Likewise,
as the Navi (Yirmiyahu 17:7) writes, “Boruch Hagever…Vehaya Hashem
Mevtacho--blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his
security.” In these Pesukim,
both Dovid Hamelech and Yirmiyahu Hanavi are teaching us the greatness of
Bitachon--even if we do not merit, even if we are not otherwise worthy of,
Hashem’s Chesed or Security, He may in any event save us in the zechus of
our true Bitachon in Him! Let us appreciate the power of Bitachon--and the
importance of our plea!
bracha next continues with the words Vesim
Chelkeinu Imahem Leolam--and place our lot with them (the great
persons). HaRav Chaim
Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that with these words we make a deep and
profound request--that, just as with the Tzaddikim, the Chassidim, etc. true
spiritual values guide their life--so to should our lives not be guided by
the material and the mundane, but by the matters that are LeOlam--for
eternity. To bring the
point--and the importance of the plea--home to us clearly, the Anshei
Knesses HaGedola now add the words VeLo Naivosh Ki Vecha Votachnu--so we will not feel ashamed, because we
trust in you. HaRav
Friedlander writes that shame even in this world is one of the greatest
punishments and yissurin that a
person can experience--even if it is only temporary, and in front of someone
who you don’t know well. Imagine,
then, the unparalleled yissurin of shame in front of the
certainly in front of one’s Maker! By
putting ourselves together with the special people in this bracha, we
recognize and affirmatively assert that it is not only technical Mitzvah
performance that is important--but it
is the value, the aforethought, the kavannah, the care, the completeness of
the Mitzvah that we seek as well. We
don’t want there to be a difference between the way a ‘good person’
does a Mitzvah and the way we do! After
davening for this eternally great goal--we should try to put it into
practice when performing a Mitzvah. Try
to daven Shemone Esrei, Learn or do a Chesed or any of the 613 Mitzvos--like
you think Rav A, B or C would!
Bracha concludes with the words Baruch
Atta Hashem Mishan U’Mivtach LaTzaddikim.
What is the meaning, what is the difference between Mishan and Mivtach?
The outstanding Sefer Talilei Oros on Tefillah provides several beautiful explanations:
Yosef suggests that Mishan
refers to Hashem’s support of us in our Golus in Olam Hazeh, as the Pasuk
states ‘Yekadmuni VeYom Eidi VeYehi Hashem LeMishan Li--they
confronted me on the day of misfortune (i.e. Golus), and Hashem was a
support for me’ (Tehillim 18:19). Mivtach,
however, describes the future--the days of Moshiach and Olam Haba.
Yosef also suggests that Hashem is a Mishan--protecting
us from the Yetzer Hara when He sees that we are truly sincere, yet He is a Mivtach--He
gives one a full reward for defeating the Yetzer Hara--as if He had no part
Hashem gives to those who are Boteiach in Him a Mishan,
assistance to further strengthen them in their Bitachon.
This was evidenced, for instance, by the Bnei Yisroel who saw the Eser
Makkos while still in Mitzrayim--before they even left--in order to
bolster the Bitachon they had demonstrated by crying out to Hashem in the
first place. Similarly, with the
Nes of Purim, first Haman led Mordechai around on the royal horse before
the party in which Haman was brought down, in order to bolster the
people’s Bitachon as they prayed for Esther’s success at the party.
So too in the future, teaches Rabbeinu
Avrohom Ben HaGra, Hashem will show Nissim V’Niflaos before the
final Geulah --in order for our Bitachon to be ‘Meleah
V’Shaleim’ in Hashem. Please
daven at this point that this new demonstration of Mishan
should occur speedily and in our days!
SECOND SET --------------------------
We begin with the first
phrase of: “Al HaTzadikim VeAl HaChassidim VeAl Ziknei Amecha Bais Yisrael--on
the righteous, on the devout, and on the elders of Your people, the family
Sefer Avudraham notes a
special difference between Tzadikim and Chassidim.
He writes that the Tzadikim are Gedolim who have not tasted the taste of sin, having
consistently and continuously fulfilled all of the Mitzvos and laws as set
forth in Shulchan Aruch, whereas the Chassidim
are Ba’alei Teshuvah who, in order to avoid sins similar to those that
they have committed in the past, must take on special additional precautions
and fences. The difference
between a Tzadik and a Chassid can thus be compared to one who has not been
sick and thus has no restrictions on his diet, as compared to one who has
been ill and must be careful not to eat certain items.
The Eitz Yosef provides a second explanation of the difference between
Tzadikim and Chassidim--Tzadikim
are the Shomrei Mitzvos, while Chassidim
are those who do an abundant amount of Ma’asim Tovim--great Ba’alei
Chesed. The Zekeinim
are, of course, the Chachomim who lead us.
The reason, explains the Eitz
Yosef that the term Amecha Bais
Yisrael is appended to the description of the Zekeinim and not to
the Tzaddikim or the Chassidim is because through their Da’as Torah they
keep the Bais Yisrael--the family of
the words of Amecha Bais Yisrael
we remind ourselves to express our Hakaras HaTov by davening for them.
Hakhel Note: We should
certainly have specifically in mind the Gedolim of our generation when
reciting these words.
We continue with the
phrase: “VeAl Pleitas Sofreihem VeAl Geirei HaTzedek V’Aleinu Yehemu Rachamecha
Hashem Elokeinu--and for the remnant of the scholars, the righteous
converts, and on ourselves, may Your mercy be aroused, Hashem our G-d.”
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that the Talmidei Chachomim
are called Sofrim because they
count all of the words and letters in the Torah (Kiddushin 30A), and they
are the remnants of the original Talmidei Chachomim of prior years.
The Eitz Yosef explains that the term Sofrim here refers to those who
write Seforim. HaRav Chaim
Friedlander, Z’tl, points out that because we are the She’eiris
HaPleitah--the remnants of our people, we are blessed with the remnants of
the Talmidei Chachomim to lead us--every generation having scholars
befitting it (Dor Dor V’Dorshav). Then,
in addition to our pleading for the welfare of the Talmidei Chachomim, we
ask that Hashem have mercy on the Geirei
Tzedek, on the righteous converts
who come to Yiddishkeit on their own and with a Kavannah
Tehorah. The Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer gives as an example the sailors on the ship
of Yonah HaNavi--they converted because they saw with their own eyes
Hashem’s Hashgacha and strength, and for no other reason.
They and their like are true Geirei
Tzedek. We daven for them
because there is a special Mitzvah to love Geirim (the Sefer Ya’aros
Devash teaches that we fulfill the Mitzvah of VeAhavtem Es HaGer by having the Mitzvah in mind when davening for
them here!) We then go on to
ourselves--together with the Tzaddikim,
Chassidim, Zikeinim, Sofrim and
Geirei Tzedek--and even though we do not have the Ma’alos that they
have--we ask Hashem, as Hashem Elokeinu, to infuse and sweeten His Middas HaDin with
Rachamim upon all those listed within the Bracha, including ourselves.
We at least associate ourselves with the right people, demonstrating
that this is where our aspirations lie.
HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, provides a beautiful explanation of the
use of the word Yehemu (which we translated as ‘aroused’, based upon the
Artscroll Siddur), which he translates as ‘activated’:
“We know that HaKadosh Baruch Hu is Malei Rachamim, mercy per
se, but we do not always feel His mercy. The Rachamim of HaKadosh Baruch Hu,
like the air that we breathe, is always there--we could not live without it.
However, we feel the air only
when the wind blows. We ask
here that HaKadosh Baruch Hu make His mercy evident to all of the
Hakhel Note: Our
references of HaRav Schwab’s words cannot serve as a replacement for
studying his entire monumental Sefer on Tefillah Rav
Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll)--an absolutely essential work for every
We continue with the
phrase: “Visein Sachar Tov Lechol HaBotechim BeShimcha B’Emes--and give
good reward to all who truly believe in Your Name.”
HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, asks a pointed question--why do we
ask for reward--certainly we know that Hashem will reward those who deserve
it? Do we need to c’v remind Hashem about reward?! Rashi
teaches us more than once in Chumash: “Ani Hashem--Ne’eman
LeShaleim Sechar--Hashem tells us that He is trustworthy to give
everyone his just rewards.” It
is for this reason that the Sefer Iyun
Tefillah teaches that the ‘good reward’ here does not refer to
reward in the usual sense for those who do good, but rather it is a request
that those who demonstrate their belief in Hashem do not falter, so that all
can see that those who believe in Him succeed, and do not fall away,
embarrassed or ashamed. Thus,
our request here is that Hashem fulfill the hopes of those who believe in
Him, so that a Kiddush Hashem results--as all see that Hashem answers the
request of those who believe in Him. The
Dover Shalom explains in a
different vein that we are making a request of Hashem on behalf of those who
demonstrate their true bitachon in Him--that aside from listening to their
please, Hashem reward them simply for truly believing in Him!
The next phrase is:
“VeSim Chelkeinu Imahem
LeOlam VeLo Neivosh Ki Vecha Batachnu--put our lot with them forever,
and we will not feel ashamed for we trust in You.”
HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that by the word LeOlam,
forever, we ask Hashem to guide us so that we live spiritual lives--for
these are the values that last forever and do not change with
the times. If we lead this kind
of Ruchniyus-focused life, then we will never be embarrassed.
How does one primarily lead a spiritually focused life? This
answer is in our Bracha as well--by Ki
Vecha Batachnu--through his constant awareness of Hashem and his
unfettered trust and Deveikus in Him. The
Sefer Ya’aros Devash (brought in
the Eitz Yosef) poignantly
explains that when one is embarrassed merely in this world, it is before
another human being, and the embarrassment will only last for a certain
amount of time. Just as the
shadow passes, so too will the embarrassment. This
is not so for spiritual embarrassment--which will last in Olam Haba as well.
Not only will the Malachim stay away from the person who is
spiritually defiled, continues the Ya’aros Devash, but even the Neshamos of the relatives of that
person will stand from afar and exclaim:
“What have you done that you have brought such shame and disgrace
upon yourself for all eternity?!” This
is most certainly an embarrassment that we would all want to avoid--and we
can if we act properly in this world.
In our Bracha, we ask Hashem to help save us from this embarrassment
through strengthening our Bitachon in Him--so that we will be spiritually
We conclude the Bracha
with: “Baruch Atta Hashem Mishan U’Mivtach LaTzaddikim--…Mainstay and
Assurance of the righteous” (Artscroll translation).
What is the difference between Mishan
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points to the Malbim who explains the
difference in Yeshaya (50:10) on the Pasuk “Yivtach B’Sheim Hashem V’Yishan
B’Eilokav” (see there). In
another vein, the Eitz Yosef explains that the term Mishan refers to Hashem’s support of Tzaddikim in Olam Hazeh, and the term Mivtach
refers to Hashem’s trustworthiness to support the Tzaddikim in the times
of Moshiach and in Olam Habah. Alternatively,
Mishan refers to Hashem’s
support of us in our battles against the Yetzer Hara, while the term Mivtach assures us that in spite of all of Hashem’s assistance in
helping us fight the Yetzer Hara, He will reward us (if we take His
assistance) in full--as if we did it all on our own!
We suggest that according to either interpretation the meaning is
that Hashem not only acts as a Mishan,
as a cane for support--but also as a Mivtach--standing
those who are deserving up on their own in this world--and for eternity!
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