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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!



The 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 Heavenly Court --and 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!



The 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:


a.  The Eitz 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. 


b.  The Eitz 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 in it! 


c.  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!


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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 of Israel ”.  The 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 Israel --going.  With 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 include ‘Aleinu’, 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 aforementioned!  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 home.



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 successful forever!



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 and Mivtach?  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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