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It is fascinating to note that this is the only bracha of Shemone Esrei that begins with the word Barech--specifically seeking bracha at the outset.  Perhaps this is an allusion to the fact that while it may be easier to have Bitachon in other areas--Hashem will help me with Teshuva, Hashem will provide the Refuah, Hashem will provide the Geulah--it is more difficult to have a complete trust in areas of Parnassah.  After all, don’t I earn a living because of my expertise, my skill, my unique abilities, my training, in my profession or job?  So, at the outset, we clear and clean our minds--ridding ourselves of western thoughts and beliefs--as we aver that our Parnassah comes only because of Your Blessing--which we whole-heartedly ask for.  Moreover, when we recognize that our livelihood, our sustenance--every dollar and cent, every agorah, is from Hashem--then ipso facto our monies will be blessed because we will seek, earn, keep and possess only honest funds--as we recognize it all as emanating from Hashem.  We then follow with the word Aleinu to emphasize that we want the bracha of Barech to apply not only to us, but to all our people--so that no one is tempted by his Yetzer Hora to follow any inappropriate means of moving money into his pocket, and so that people who currently do not have enough to make ends meet can see and savor Hashem’s blessing of sustenance with joy .  Accordingly, we daven for those who are indigent, for all those currently in need, and for all of our brethren.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash notes that the Ikar of Parnassah comes not through Din, but through Rachamim, and so it is essential that we have the proper Kavannah in this bracha, imploring Hashem’s Rachamim upon us and upon all of K’lal Yisroel.--Barech Aleinu --let the words sink in--and flow out!


HaRav Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, asks why it is that we ask first in this Bracha that Hashem bless this year with prosperity, and only afterwards, in the next succeeding Brachos, do we daven for Hashem for the Geulah.  After all, shouldn’t we have our priorities in order?!  HaRav Rabanovitch writes, in truth, our Ikar Tefillah for the Geulah is for the Tza’ar HaShechina that is currently in Galus, and it is this Tza’ar that we must experience and feel [Hakhel Note:  Especially on a day like today] while we are davening for the Geulah.  However, if we are too troubled and bothered by our personal Tirdos and Tzaros, then we will be davening for the Geulah essentially so that we be relieved of all of our suffering.  We therefore daven now that Hashem bless us with sustenance and prosperity--so that our prayers for the Geulah can be more pristine--for the Shechinah to come back home, and for us to join Him!


HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, asks why we ask that Hashem give a Bracha to HaShanah HaZos--this year.  He explains that Shanah is related to Shinuy--meaning change, and over the course of a year there are changes (hot and cold, rain and drought etc.)  We accordingly ask that Hashem infuse his Bracha into each and every one of the changes that occur throughout the year.  It is for this reason that we begin the Bracha not simply with Bareich Aleinu Hashem, but with Bareich Aleinu Hashem Elokeinu--the word ‘Elokeinu’ is especially emphasizing Hashem’s Hashgacha Pratis over each and every aspect of our Birchas HaParnassah through the vicissitudes of the year.  We then quickly add “V’Es Kol Minei Sevuasah L’Tova--that all of the specifics, and all of the changes, turn out for our good.  We do not mean only our physical good, but our spiritual good as well--through our recognition that each and every Bracha came from Hashem and was not the product of Kochi V’Otzem Yadi--and through our utilization of the Brachos wisely--to meet our true purpose in this world (and not as an end in and of itself).  If we can elevate our Gashmiyus in this way, we will demonstrate that we are ready for the Brachos of Geulah, which are soon to follow (yes, the double entendre is intended)!


The bracha of Bareich Aleinu contains words which change depending upon the time of year--either VeSein Bracha or VeSein Tal U’Matar LiVracha.  This relates directly to the thought conveyed yesterday-- we ask that Hashem bless the year (Shanah) and all of its changes.  There are then two different nuscha’os, or texts, which follow--depending upon our custom, you recite either VeSabeinu Mituvecha or VeSabeinu MiTuvah--and the meaning changes depending upon your custom.  The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 117, seif katan 1) writes that it is the opinion of the Magen Avraham in the name of the Rosh, and the Maharshal, that we recite VeSabeinu MiTuvecha, while in the Siddur of the Arizal [as well as in the Ma’aseh Rav and in the Iyun Tefillah] the nusach is MiTuvah.  What is the difference between Mituvecha and MiTuvah?  The Rosh writes that MiTuvecha refers to Hashem, and not to the year, i.e., we are asking Hashem to satiate us from His goodness.  The Sefer Ya’aros Devash beautifully adds that by MiTuvecha we indicate that we want our sustenance to come from that which is good to Hashem--with not even a speck of gezel or in proprietary associated our livelihood or funds.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander brings a second interpretation of VeSabeinu MiTuvecha as well.  He writes in the name of the Sefer Avnei Eliyahu that we are asking Hashem that a little Gashmiyus in this world satiate us because it is MiTuvecha--because it emanates from Hashem, so that the spiritual overtakes the material.  As Rashi writes in Chumash (to Vayikra 26:5), one can eat even a little and still feel satiated inside.  The second nusach--VeSabeinu MiTuvah does not refer to Hashem or His goodness, but instead [according to the Gra and the Iyun Tefillah] refers to Eretz Yisroel, which is the Pnei Ha’adamah just referred to in the bracha.  We ask of Hashem that He give us from the good with which Eretz Yisroel was blessed, as the Eretz Zavas Chalav U’Devash!  Note:  HaRav Friedlander points out that there is only one nusach in the bracha of Mai’ain Shalosh (Al HaMichya)--according to all opinions it is VeSabeinu MiTuvah--referring to Eretz Yisroel and its goodness.


It is interesting to note that the bracha both begins with Barech and ends with Mevarech--indicating that sustenance is a particular area in which one must especially recognize its true Source (from beginning to end!).  In fact, in the Birkas Kohanim (Bamidbar 6:24 et. al.), the first word is also related--Yevorechecha. Rashi there brings Chazal that the Kavannah is Yisborchu Nechasecha--may your possessions be blessed!  We would think that the holy and limited words of the Birkas Kohanim would be involved with more ‘sublime’ matters.  However, the very fact that this is the only word of the Birkas Kohanim in which bracha is directly utilized--and this is pashut p’shat according to Rashi--teaches us how we have to especially recognize that bracha is only from Hashem in financial matters--and act and behave accordingly.  Three final notes from HaRav Schwab Z’tl (in the monumental Rav Schwab on Prayer--a must for EVERYONE’S home):  a.  WE had previously asked Hashem to bless Hashanah HaZos--this year.  In the last words of the bracha, we recite that Hashem blesses the years--in the plural--as an expression of our Emunah Sheleima that Hashem will bless future years as well.  b.  If a person has difficulties with Parnassah, he should add his own personal tefillah just before he closes the bracha with Baruch Atta Hashem.  c.  Even though a person’s Parnassah has been decided for the year on Rosh Hashanah, we ask that Hashem to increase the predetermined amount--in the merit of our expenditures for Shabbos and Yom Tov and for the support and promotion of Torah learning...if we use the money we have for the right reasons...the more Bracha one can expect in return!



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Since the First Bracha of Shemone Esrei, we have not began a Bracha with the term ‘Bareich’--bless us with.  Here, we will ask Hashem for the blessing of Parnassah and sustenance.  We note that the first word in Birkas Kohanim is ‘Yevarechecha--bless us, which Rashi (Bamidbar 6:24 ), quoting Chazal, writes refers to blessing one with prosperity.  With this word, then, we especially emphasize our absolute recognition that all of our monetary matters, all of our wealth and all of our possessions are a blessing from Hashem.  Indeed, the second word of the Bracha--‘Aleinu’--upon us is a direct request that Hashem bring these blessings down upon us.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that there are only three brachos in Shemone Esrei (after the First Bracha) that begin not only with the  one name of  Hashem’ or with ‘Atta’, but with ‘Hashem Elokeinu’--they are Bareich Aleinu Hashem Elokeinu, Shema Koleinu Hashem Elokeinu, and Retzei Hashem Elokeinu.  In his unique and unparalleled manner, HaRav Chaim explains that each reference is based on a specific Pasuk--Lema’an Yevarechecha Hashem Elokecha (Devarim 14:29 ); Hashem Elokim Shemah Tefillasi (Tehillim 84:9); and Hashem Elokecha Yirtzecha (Shmuel II 24:23)! 



The next phrase of the Bracha is Es HaShana HaZos--this year.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that every year one has a different gezeirah relating to Parnassah, and that one therefore does not as a matter of course remain wealthy, middle class or poor.  We see this in real life with those around us--and this is our opportunity to daven for success now.  Furthermore, we ask for V’Es Kol Minei Sevuasah--every single aspect of the Parnassah--to be LeTovah.  HaRav Chaim explains that even if there was r’l a gezeirah lera’ah, we ask Hashem for it now to be changed to Tovah.  The Sefer BeRumo Shel Olam adds that our Kavannos should include that our Parnassah be given to us BeNachas Velo Betza’ar--with calmness and serenity and not with pain, and additionally, that the indigent of K’lal Yisrael be taken out of their dire straits as well.  Thus, the term LeTovah has both a quantitative and qualitative meaning--and we should keep them both in mind! 




The next phrase of the Bracha is V’Sein Bracha Al P’nei HaAdamah.  The Eitz Yosef beautifully notes that with this phrase we pray that “Shelo Yihei Ein Briyah Tzarah B’Chaverta”--that all peacefully coexist in their attainment of Parnassah, without the trials and tribulations of undercutting another, looking good at the expense of another, unfair competition, etc.  The next two words of the Bracha are V’Sab’einu MiTuvah/MiTuvecha--there is a dispute among the authorities as to what the proper girsa is.  The G’ra rules that the proper word is MiTuvah--i.e., from the goodness of the Land, referring to Eretz Yisrael.  Indeed, the Eitz Yosef brings that the last letters of the words P’nei HaAdamah V’Sa'b’ei'nu MiTuvah constitute the letters of Yud-Key-Vav-Key--providing weight to this girsah.  The Rosh, however, teaches that we should recite the word MiTuvecha--i.e., asking Hashem that we be satiated from His Goodness.  In the Sefer Ya’aros Devash, HaRav Yonasan Eibishitz, Z’tl, adds an important insight towards the girsa of MiTuvecha:  “If c’v there is some taint of issur in one’s food--if it comes from any kind of gezel, if there is some prohibited matter within the food, or even if the meal is eaten together with the wrong company--then the Ruach HaKedushah that is in the food leaves it, and the Ruach HaTumah that replaces it is digested with the food, and leaves its negative mark on the character of the person who consumes it.”  If, instead, we are satiated MiTuvecha--from the bounty of Hashem, and in the permissible and appropriate way that Hashem would like us to eat, then we will actually imbibe holiness and purity from our food.  Accordingly, the Ya’aros Devash writes, one should daven ‘me’od b’kavannah’ when reciting the words V’Sab’einu MiTuvecha that the food he consumes come from and through the proper sources--so that one attains a purity from the food he consumes--“and if he does so, Hashem will listen to his Tefillos--and no sin will befall him when eating foods(!).”




The next phrase of the Bracha is U’Vareich Shenaseinu KaShanim HaTovos--and bless our years like the good years.  What do we mean by the ‘good years’?  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, writes in his Sefer Ta’amah D’ikra, that this refers to two specific years--years in which the fruits were never as plentiful in Eretz Yisrael as they were in those two years.  These two years were: (i) the year that Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael; and (ii) the year that Bnei Yisrael were exiled from Eretz Yisrael.  In the future, HaRav Chaim writes, all years will be like those years--and that is what we mean with the words U’Vareich Shenaseinu KaShanim HaTovos--that we will be zoche to the Geulah--i.e., that time when all our years will be like those two years!  The Siddur Siach Yitzchak interprets the phrase as referring even to our times--explaining that we are davening for goodness in gashmiyus from which will come not additional ta’avos or a yeridah of any kind (as in Vayishman Yeshurun VaYivat--as one waxes fat, he may rebel), but rather goodness in gashmiyus from which will come Hatzlacha in ruchniyus--i.e., the opportunity to grow in Torah and Yiras Shomayim without deterrents and disturbances, just as the past good years when we were blessed with gashmiyus and ruchniyus together!   




The next phrase of the Bracha is Baruch Atta Hashem Mevarech HaShanim--blessed are You Hashem, Who blesses the years.  HaRav Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll), provides us with the following insight at the conclusion of our Bracha:  If a person has difficulties with his Parnassah, he should add his own personal tefillah here just before Baruch Atta Hashem Mevarech HaShanim.…The Bracha concludes in the present tense, in expression of our Emunah Sheleima that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will fulfill His promise to bless the future years that are to come….    Additionally, although our livelihood for the present year has already been decided on Rosh Hashanah, nevertheless, we ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu here to increase the predetermined amount, in the merit of our extensive expenditures in the areas of Shabbos and Yom Tov, and for the support and promotion of Torah learning.  The more we expand our efforts for these objectives, and practice them on a large scale, the more we can expect the blessings of HaKadosh Baruch Hu in return--Im Hosif Mosifin Lo--if one adds on to the expenditures for these Mitzvah purposes, then Hashem will add to his income.  In a different vein, HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, notes that the word HaShanim (the years) is related to the word HaShinuyim (the changes).  In the broader world view, HaRav Friedlander writes, changes and variations may prove more harmful than helpful.  Indeed, some people may be heard to say “Hopefully the economy won’t be worse than it is now.”  People recognize that change brings with it the unknown.  We know that with Hashem’s protective embrace of us, His blessing--He will be Mevareich these Shinuyim, these changes--even if they are part of what others consider to be economic downturns or seasonal cycles….and we pray here that they will be for our good--as Hashem adds on to all the blessing He is already providing us with!”


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