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From a reader on proper pronunciation of two words in the bracha:
Ki lo chaLU Rachamecha
Ki lo SAmu
To mispronounce as
CHAlu makes it into a ches and means exactly the opposite, that His rachamim
is not chal, c”v.
Ki lo chaLU with a chaf
means that His Rachamim has not finished!
The Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 101, seif katan 3)
brings that according to some Poskim the Kavannah in Peirush HaMilos of this
Bracha is so essential, that if one has not done so --it is me’akev--just
as in the Bracha of Avos! Review
the bracha--is there any word that you do not understand--and if not--is
there any reason why you cannot dedicate yourself to thanking Hashem with
every single word of the bracha?
fact, HaRav Yonasan Eibeschutz, Zt’l, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash
teaches: “ In this bracha one
should give personal shevach to
Hashem for the wonders that Hashem provides on
his behalf daily. One
must realize that the Ba’al HaNess does not always appreciate the Nissim
that occur to him, and that each and every one of us is the recipient of
many nissim nistarim daily. Additionally,
based upon the Zohar, HaRav Eibeschutz writes
that one must be especially dedicated to giving hoda’ah daily on the
return of his soul to his body the previous night.
This may be the basis for the special thanks in the bracha for “VeAhl
Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Loch”. The gift of our Neshamos returning
daily--something never, ever to forget as evidenced by the bracha of Elokai
Neshama--and the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah help us tremendously by giving us
the reminder--and even the Nusach--to especially thank Hashem for this in the bracha of Hoda’ah
three times a day!
From a reader, as taught by Rabbi Pinches Friedman, Shlita:
“It may be difficult to have Kavannah for all 100 brachos a day. Perhaps
we can take solace from the words of the Da’as
Zekainim MiBa’alei HaTosfos (Parshas Eikev), who teach that the
Chachomim established saying Modim three times a day, to correspond with the
100 Brachos, and by saying Modim,
which has the numerical value of 100, with proper concentration, it is
considered as if we said all 100 Brachos with proper concentration.”
Hakhel Note: Let us be
guided by the words of the Da’as
As noted last week, the Bracha of Retzei
is the Bracha of Avodah--our great desire to return to the complete service
of the Bais HaMikdash. After we
conclude this Bracha, we immediately bow down to the words of Modim Anachnu Lach. HaRav
Yosef B. Soloveitchik, Z’tl, (Boston; RIETS) explains that our bowing down
as we begin Modim is an immediate
reaction to our heightened awareness of the Avodah of the Bais HaMikdash
that we seek--as we now sense ourselves awed and as if in the Bais HaMikdash--concomitantly
humbled and spiritually elevated by the moment! Hakhel Note:
Feel the sublimity each and every time--and it will be much easier
when the actual moment arrives!
C. It is
extremely important to note that the first thing that we thank Hashem for in
Modim--even before thanking Him
for our life every moment (i.e., “Al
Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadcha”) is Sho’atah
Hu Hashem (Yud-Key-Vuv-Key--the
Name of Mercy), Elokeinu
(our G-d--Who watches over us with Hashgacha Pratis),
Avoseinu (our relationship goes back thousands of years--through
Avrohom Avinu!), LeOlam VaEd (not only has this been the case for thousands of years,
and is the case now--but it will be so forever and ever).
No one else can come
anywhere near making these claims--this is a tremendous amount to be
thankful for--and we should not let these precious diamond-studded
words pass us by without appreciating their monumental meaning!
The Sefer Seder HaYom
beautifully points out that not only does Hashem save us from Tzara
V’Tzukah, and not only does He provide Nissim
V’Nefla’os on our behalf (the multitude of which we do not even know
about)--but all of this is done within the context of the Galus that we are in--surrounded
by enemies of all shapes and sizes--who or which may even be in the diverse
forms of friendly world leaders on the one hand, and technological
advancements aimed at our youth on the other.
Yet, we miraculously continue to thrive as Torah Jews, because Hashem
saves us from their schemes, plans and designs.
The Seder HaYom writes that
this in fact is why the Bracha of Hoda’ah
is placed immediately after the Bracha of Avodah--for
although we were deserving of the Mikdash to be destroyed and for us to be
driven into this exile--Hashem has not forsaken us or been repulsed by
us--but rather His Chesed continues to be with us, and He longs for the day
when He can fulfill His Bris with us--and have full Nachas from His
It is certainly no coincidence (as it never is) that the only two
critical Brachos in which we bow to Hashem are Avos
and Hoda’ah, at the beginning
and end of the Bracha.
One should consult with his Rav as to how the manner of one’s
bowing when reciting Modim Anachnu
Lach at the beginning of the Bracha differs from the bowing at Baruch
Attah Hashem at the end of the Bracha. The
Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah writes
that our bowing is meant to indicate our humility at the realization that we
are unworthy of all the gifts that Hashem gives us, and that in truth we can
never ever thank Him enough. As
one bows, one should accept upon himself Hashem’s Mastery and Kingship, as
a subject bows before his king. See
the Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah
for further detail.
Bracha continues with the words Nodeh
Lecha U’Nesaper Tehillasecha--we thank You and we relate Your praises.
We should recognize that there are instances in which we may not go
into detail when thanking Hashem--but there are other instances in which our
thanks and appreciation should be expressed in detail (Nesaper--like
a story). With the words of Nodeh and Nesaper, we
recognize that we must think about and express our Hoda’ah to Hashem both
quantitatively and qualitatively!
We especially thank Hashem for “Ahl
Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadecha.”
We should think as we recite these words that we are not only
thanking Hashem for granting us life minute after minute, but also for every aspect of our bodies and souls within us.
We can quickly think up from the bottom of our feet to the top of our
head--and recognize how much is working--that we must admit would not be functioning--but for Hashem’s empowerment and
graciousness--oh we have so much to be thankful for.
We note that the entire Bracha is in the plural form (as is the rest
of Shemone Esrei). We do not
only thank Hashem for ourselves personally, but also
for our immediate family, broader family, friends, community, and all of
refers to the Niflaos HaBorei which we experience as’teva’--the
sun shines, the car starts, gravity is keeping things (including me) on the
ground, I can speak to (and even simultaneously see) someone 6,000 miles
away by pressing a few buttons on a small object. You can think and thank
for different niflaos all the time!
D. There are two opinions as
to what the term “Erev VaVoker
VeTzaharaim” applies to--some say that it refers to the different kind
of miracles, wonders, and goodnesses that happen at different times of the
day--evening, morning and afternoon.. Others
learn that the phrase refers to the times that we praise Hashem--i.e., our
three Tefillos. If you are
unsure--you can certainly have both of the marvelous Kavannos!
As a reader pointed out, one of the descriptions of Hashem in the
Bracha is HaTov.
With this, we express that everything Hashem does is absolute good.
Hakhel Note: We actually
use the term HaTov again at the end of the Bracha itself--HaTov
We continue in the Bracha, by reciting that because we recognize all
the goodness and wonders that Hashem performs on our behalf, we will bless
and uplift His name Tomid and LeOlam
indicates constancy, throughout the day.
With LeOlam VaEd, we
exclaim that not only do we thank you daily now--but that these daily thanks
will continue forever and ever!
We then exclaim that we will praise Hashem’s name B’Emes.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that B’Emes mean
B’Kavannah. If we are going to
express our thanks, it must be with meaning, thought, and feeling--otherwise
it is simply not thanks.
Towards the end of the Bracha, we recite--
Yeshuaseinu Ve’Ezraseinu Selah. We
note that the terms Yeshua and Ezra mirror the terms in the first Bracha of
Shemone Esrei--Ozer U’Moshia. The
difference between Yeshua and Ezra
is that by Yeshua we mean that Hashem saves us from c’v a Tzara.
By Ezra we mean that Hashem
helps us in anything and everything that we do.
The word Selah teaches that Hashem is our Savior and Helper every
moment and forever.
Finally, we conclude the Bracha with the phrase U’Lecha
Na’eh LeHodos. We are not
expressing our thanks simply because we have to, or because it is right--as
one would have to say thank you to his host or benefactor--but because it
really feels nice and beautiful to do so.
It gives us Hana’ah--we feel good about--expressing our thanks and
recognition of the gifts, kindnesses, and eternity that Hashem bestows upon
SECOND SET --------------------------------------------------------------
Hoda’ah is such an
important bracha that the Mishna Berurah writes that if one did not have
proper Kavannah in the bracha of Avos, then there are Poskim who rules that
having Kavannah in this bracha of Hoda’ah
satisfies the minimum Kavannah requirement.
The Steipeler Gaon, Z’tl (Brachos 27) brings from the Sefer Rokeach
that Kavannah is me’akeiv either
in the Bracha of Avos or in the Bracha of Hoda’ah, and so if one did not
have Kavannah in the Bracha of Avos, he should be sure to have Kavannah in
the Bracha of Hoda’ah in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefillah.
The Sifsei Chaim explains
why the Bracha of Modim is so crucial that it could be equated with the
Bracha Avos in this sense--‘for the ikar
of Tefillah is a feeling of our sheer dependency on and subservience to
HaKadosh Baruch Hu--to know and feel that everything comes from Hashem--and
this is exactly what we express in the Bracha of Hoda’ah’.
The word “Modim”,
explains the Sifsei Chaim, bears
two meanings: (a) to be Modeh
Al HaEmes--to admit to the truth, and (b) to express Todah or thanks and HaKaras
HaTov to Hashem.
Of course, the two thoughts are related--once we recognize that
Hashem directs everything, we express our thanks for all that He does for
us. The first thing we
recognize/thank Hashem for is that he is “Hashem
Elokeinu”. As we have
noted in the past, the term Hashem
Elokeinu refers to Hashem’s Rachamim towards us, and His Hashgacha
Pratis over us in all matters. We
may accordingly suggest that the first words of the Bracha express the theme
Anachnu Lach”--we thank Hashem that we are His!
The next phrase is “Sho’attah
Hu Hashem Elokeinu V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed--that You are our
G-d and the G-d of our forefathers forever.”
HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, first points out that Atta
Hu puts together the second and third ‘person’, which is similar to
all of our brachos, in which we say: “Atta Hashem”--noting our unique relationship to Hashem both in the
second and third ‘person’. We
then continue stating that Hashem is our Elokeinu,
before mentioning that he is Elokei
Avoseinu. Our relationship
with Hashem is primarily based on our own closeness to Hashem, but the basis
of this ability is definitely Hashem’s bond with the Avos.
[This concept is similar to the words of the Shira where the Pasuk
says “Zeh Keili V’Anveihu Elokei
Avi VeAromemenu”--in which we first express our personal
relationship with Hashem, before ‘going back’ to describe our
forefathers’ connection with Him.] HaRav
Friedlander points out that Elokeinu
V’Elokei Avoseinu LeOlam Va’ed
describes our closeness to Hashem in three time periods, the
present--Elokeinu, the past--Elokei Avoseinu, and the future--LeOlam Va’ed. We then
continue with two further descriptions of our relationship with Hashem--Tzur
Chayeinu and Magen Yisheinu--the Rock of our life and the Shield of our
salvation. By the ‘Rock’ of
our life, we mean that our living breaths have a source in Him, He is the
Rock from which our lives or hewn, and also that He is a Rock upon Whom we
lean and support ourselves, as the Pasuk (Devarim 32:37) expressly states
“Tzur Chasayu Vo--the Rock Whom all of our trust is in.”
By the term “Magen Yisheinu--the Shield of our salvation” we recognize that
Hashem shields us from tzaros even
before they come (Magen), and even
if they do come, He saves us from the tzara
We have only begun the Bracha--and we see how packed it is with
precious and priceless meaning!
The next phrase is “Atta
Hu--You are”. This is the second
time within the first several words of the Bracha that we recite the
phrase Atta Hu--representing our unique
relationship to Hashem in the second and third ‘person’ is mentioned
within the Bracha. The next
phrase is “L’Dor VaDor--from
generation to generation”. The
Iyun Tefillah presents two possibilities as to the meaning of this
phrase within the Bracha. The
first is that it concludes the previous words of Tzur
Chayeinu Magen Yisheinu Atta Hu--L’Dor VaDor.
In other words, we thank Hashem for being the Rock of our life (as
described yesterday) and the Shield of our salvation (as described
yesterday) from generation to generation--for, as we describe in the
Haggadah, “Bechol Dor VaDor…in
each and every generation they stand up to destroy us.”
A second p’shat in L’Dor VaDor , writes the
Iyun Tefillah, is that it is the
introduction to the next phrase of Nodeh
Lecha U’Nesaper Tehillasecha--meaning that in each generation we thank
You for the unique gifts and Hashgacha that You give to that generation.
Indeed, the Chasdei Hashem change in accordance with the needs of the
time and the needs of the place. The
difference between the terms Nodeh
and Nesaper is that Nodeh
refers to our thanks personally as expressed directly to Hashem, while Nesaper
means that we relate to others and publicize that which Hashem has done for
us (as in the popular song taken from the Pasuk in Tehillim (107:8) “Yodu
Lashem Chasdo VeNifliosav Livnei Adam”).
While it may be inappropriate to sing the words of Modim--we can
certainly feel the joy while expressing our thanks!
we noted the difference between Nodeh
Lecha and U’Nesaper Tehillasecha.
Now, the Bracha lists specific categories of what we thank Hashem
Chayeinu HaMesurim BeYadecha”--for our lives that are in Your hands--i.e.,
that we live and breathe! Hashem’s
Chesed is so great that we continue to live even during the time that we
speak Lashon Hara, as we walk in late to shul, as we disturb someone’s
learning, as we pain someone physically or with words.
Moreover, with every moment of life He grants us here, He gives us
the opportunities we need to be zoche
to more and more life--in this world, and the eternal life of Olam Haba.
Nishmoseinu HaPekudos Lach”--and for our souls that are deposited with
You every evening, which are returned refreshed in the morning. Even if we
owe Hashem huge apologies for what we did the day before, He still
graciously renews us for another day, hopefully of betterment.
We very well understand why before going to sleep, we recite the
Pasuk “BeYadecha Afkid Ruchi Padisa
Osi Hashem Kel Emes”, and when we arise why we recite “Modeh
Nisecha Shebechol Yom Imanu”--and for the miracles that are with us
every day. This means to include
not the major miracles, but the more private, hidden miracles that keep the
person going every day…the continuous miracles of the human body, one’s
physical and mental health, one’s Parnassah….
Nifliosecha VeTovosecha She’bechol Eis, Erev, Vavoker, VeTzaharayim”--and
for the wonders of life and for the goodness that we see bestowed upon
us--at all times, evening, morning and afternoon.
Some learn that the phrase Erev,
Vavoker, VeTzaharayim refers back to when we thank Hashem--at all times,
morning, evening and during the day. Others
learn that it refers to when He showers His wonders and goodness upon
us--every day, throughout the day. Both
are certainly true!
We note that one should definitely put his thought
into the four concepts above, personalizing them to one’s own life,
especially thinking of particular examples as he recites the words (and they
certainly can be different examples daily--Boruch Hashem!)
The next phrases of the Bracha are:
Ki Lo Chalu Rachamecha VeHaMerachem Ki Lo Samu Chasadecha…--Hashem is
the Good One Whose mercies are never exhausted and the Merciful One Whose
kindnesses never end.” The
commentaries explain that Hashem has Rachmanus
on us and spares us punishments that we may otherwise deserve, and then,
beyond not punishing us--He showers His unending Chesed
“VeAl Kulam Yisborach
VeYisromam Shimcha Malkeinu--and for all of these may Your Name be
blessed and exalted our King continuously and forever.”
Here, in recognition ‘of all the above’ all of the Chasdei Hashem
which we have mentioned until this point, we ask that Hashem allow
the entire world to recognize that Hashem is Baruch--the
source of all blessing and Romeim--exalted
above all. With the term Shimcha
we express that we really cannot fathom Hashem, but just that we know Him by
how He conducts Himself in this world--which is His ‘Name’ so to speak.
This sought after time of Yisborach
V’Yisromam will also be a time of “VeChol
HaChaim Yoducha Selah VeYehalelu Es Shimcha BeEmes…-- when everyone
alive will thank You forever and truly recognize and praise You.”
3. The Bracha concludes:
“Baruch Atta Hashem HaTov
Shimcha U’lecha Na’eh LeHodos--Whose Name is Good and to Whom it is
pleasant to give thanks.” Here,
we recognize that all of Hashem’s actions in this world emanate from His
Good, and we make it clear that we are thanking Hashem not only because it
is the right thing to do as HaKaras HaTov, but--because we feel true
pleasure in doing so!
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