Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
FOCUS ON TEFILLAH ARCHIVE
Hayom writes that this bracha is the first bracha after our requests
have been concluded, and in it we ask that Hashem find favor in our service
of Him. In fact, in the time of
the Bais Hamikdash--may it speedily be rebuilt--the specific request was
that the Avodah in the Bais Hamikdash
should find favor in Hashem in Hashem's eyes--and that Avodah included the Ishei
Yisroel--the fire offerings, the karbanos of K'lal Yisroel.
At this time, we daven that our Tefillos be accepted in
place of the Avodas Bais Hamikdash, which is the Avodah
Sheleima --and that we once again see
with our own eyes (VeSechezena
Aineinu) the original Avodah. This
essential bracha thus contains a great dual purpose and character--asking
that our Avodah now give nachas ruach
to Hashem--and demonstrating our yearning for the Avodah Sheleima of the
Bais Hamikdash. Oh--how we
should utter the words Vesechezena
Aineinu with longing--our very
own eyes should be zoche to see the fulfillment of the greatest dream of
all mankind and of all time!
Many ask why this bracha is grouped together with
the last two brachos under the title of Hoda’ah, as opposed to
being grouped together with the other brachos of Bakasha.
After all, even the first word--Retzeih--is a plea to Hashem to be pleased and look favorably towards us,
with the bracha continuing with the
plea for Hashem to restore the Avodah to the Bais Hamikdash.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, answers that all of the prior brachos
of Bakasha can refer to an individual’s needs as well.
From Retzeih and on we are not asking for individual needs--but only for
communal needs--and we thank Hashem
because it is only He who can respond to the needs of the millions and of
the entire world. HaRav
Kanievsky also explains (based upon the Yerushalmi) that when we ask that
the Avodah be returned LiDvir Beisecha, the
word Dvir refers to the Kodesh
HeKedoshim because it is from there that Hashem is ‘Medaber’--communicates to His people in this world.
Finally, HaRav Kanievsky was asked why we ask Hashem in this Tefillah
to again accept our Tefillos (U’Sefillasam BeAhava Sekebel B’Ratzon)--after all, didn’t we
just ask Hashem to accept our Tefillos in Shema
Koleinu?! He answers that
here we are asking for an elevated level of acceptance--an acceptance not
only B’Rachamim or even B’Ratzon--but B’Ahava--showing
His love for us! Remember to
have Kavannah when reciting the word B’Ahava--as we ask for Hashem’s loving acceptance!
The Sefer BeRumo
Shel Olam brings in the name of the Shelah HaKadosh that in this bracha
one should plead with Hashem, Beshivron
Lev, that his Tefillos be accepted in the place of a Karbon, until the
day that our Karbanos come back--which we also pray for with the words VeHashev Es HaAvoda LiDvir Baisecha.” The Ya’avetz incredibly
writes that if one does not answer Amein to this bracha in Chazaras Hashatz
he could be “MeAkev Bias HaMoshiach
chas veshalom”. This is an
especially important remark to those who hastily answer Modim without first
answering Amein to our bracha of Retzei.
Instead, one should clearly enunciate Amein, stop for a moment, and
then begin his recitation of Modim D’Rabanan.
We now come to perhaps the most well-known phrase in the bracha--VeIshei
Yisroel U’Tefillasam BeAhava Sekabel B’Ratzon--may the Karbanos
which we will bring, and our Tefillos at
all times, be accepted because of the love You have for us.
The Midrash teaches that the term Ishei
Yisroel applies even in today’s day, as the Malach Michoel offers the
Neshamos of Tzaddikim on the Heavenly Mizbe’ach.
(Although, beyond our understanding, what we can understand at a
minimum is that much is happening on our behalf in the Heavens above).
The Shulchan Aruch HaRav adds that the Tzaddikim in this world, by
their pure and holy actions, are our Ishei
Yisroel in the here and now--as their Tefillos, their words and actions
have a purifying effect on us all.
Our note yesterday was on VeIshei
Yisroel U’Sefillasam, and our next point of discussion for today would
have been the punctuation of this phrase.
A reader ‘did our work for us’ by beautifully explaining as
follows: “The G’ra avoids
the problem saying that Bizman
She’ein Bais Hamikdash Kayam, the punctuation should be moved, so that
the period is after Ve’Ishei Yisroel and before U’Sefillasam
. So that the bracha reads:
Es Ha’avodah Lid’vir Baisecha
... And restore:
(a) the service to the Devir of Your
(b) and the fires of Israel.
And may You accept their prayers willingly...
If we say the phrase is “ VeIshei
Yisroel U’Sefillasam BeAhava Sekabel” together , or even that this
was the phrase originally when the Kohanim said the bracha in the Bais
Hamikdash (Tamid 5:1), the question remains: What did Anshei Keneses
HaGedolah mean by Vehasheiv Es
Baisecha -- this was being said during
Perhaps we can say that “Devir Baisecha” refers to the Kodesh HaKedoshim
only when it contains the Aron. Thus,
the Kohanim are asking not for the Avodah in general, but the Avodas Kohein
Gadol as it was done on Yom Kippur in Bayis
Rishon. They were asking
HaKadosh Baruch Hu to return the Aron to Bayis Sheini, so that it too may
have a Devir, and thus we can return to having an Avodah in it!”
b. In the
bracha of Retzei, the Shoresh of
‘Ratzoh’ represented in Retzai
and Ratzon is mentioned three times in this one bracha.
With this we clearly indicate that we desperately need Hashem’s
Ritzui--His appeasement, His desire and His willingness to bring us back to
the Avodah in the Bais HaMikdash. If
we are pleading Hashem for His
Ratzon (whether or not we may
deserve it)--all the more so must we demonstrate our
Ratzon when reciting the bracha!
Sefer Avudraham writes that the
last three brachos of Shemone Esrei are distinguished in that they are
focused on Kavod Shomayim.
Our bracha of Avodah, for instance, pleads for the final return of our Avodas
Hashem to its optimum state in the Bais HaMikdash.
We conclude the bracha with the words V’Sechezenah
Aineinu BeShuvcha L’Tzion BeRachamim--may our eyes see Hashem’s
The Chofetz Chaim notes that our abilities to see, hear and speak are
not based in our Guf, in our body--but
are really empowered by our Nefesh.
What we see, hear, and speak in this world will then be translated
into what these abilities accomplished for, or against, the Nefesh in this
world. We therefore plead here
for our very eyes see the Shechina return to Yerushalayim--thereby
fulfilling their true purpose and goal.
The Sefer Baruch SheAmar
further explains that the reason that we specifically ask for our eyes to
see the return (as opposed to the experience by our other senses) is based
on [the deeper meaning of] the Pasuk (Yeshaya 52:8-see there) Ki
Ayin BeAyin Yiru BeShuv Hashem Tzion. We
then add that the return should be BeRachamim,
also based on the Pasuk (Tehillim 102:17)--Atta
Takum TeRachem Tzion. The
reason that we conclude our request with the word BeRachamim
is because the Chevlei Moshiach could c’v bring extreme distress.
As the Gemara (Sanhedrin 98B) records “May it come, but I not see
it”--therefore we ask that the Moshiach come (and all of the brachos
listed at the top of this Bulletin on his arrival be recited) not out of or
in a state of Yesurim and pain--but B’Nachas U’Vehashket--so
that we will want to and can see it with our very own eyes!
May our tefillos in this bracha be sincere and fulfilled!
SECOND SET --------------------------------------------------------------
teaches that the Bracha of Retzei
corresponds to the bracha that the Malochim recited when the Shechina
descended upon the Mishkan. Chazal
teach that the reason this Bracha is placed here, after Shomei’ah
Tefillah (and not before, as one of the Brachos relating to the Geulah),
is because the ultimate Makom of
Tefillah is the Beis HaMikdash which is known as Beis
Tefillasi. Regarding this
Bracha, the Sefer Ya’aros Devash
Me’od LaHashem Sheyachzir HaAvodah Limkomo--one should daven with
great sincerity that Hashem return our Service to its proper place.”
The Ya’avetz in the name
of the Shelah HaKadosh also emphasizes that the bracha also applies to our
times--for we are to pray here with a broken heart that Hashem should accept
our Tefillos in the place of a Karbon. The
Ya’avetz further notes that this
Bracha is so important that if one does not answer Amen to it in Chazaras
HaShatz, he is, c’v, me’akeiv
(withholds) the Bi’as HaMoshiach!
Let us begin our study of the Bracha itself.
The Bracha commences with the words:
“Retzei Hashem Elokeinu BeAmecha Yisrael U’V’Sefilasam--Hashem be
appeased by Your people Yisrael and their prayers.”
As we have noted previously, the combination of the two Names Hashem
Elokeinu is a specific appeal to Hashem’s endless mercy, as evidenced
by these two Names of mercy. Following
Hashem Elokeinu, we refer to ourselves as Amecha Yisrael. You may
recall that non-coincidentally (as it never is), the Bracha of Shema Koleinu
just concluded with the very same phrase Amecha
Yisrael as well. Last week,
we provided four explanations of the term Amecha
Yisrael there, which are equally applicable here.
Finally, the term Retzei itself is closely related to the term Rotzeh--which we used to conclude the Bracha of HaRotzeh
BeSeshuvah--we ask Hashem to take-in and accept our Tefillos, as if we
had expressed them with all of the proper Kavannos, and with all of the
proper meanings. At least when
we express the request--let us have the proper Kavannah--so that our
sincerity is clear, pure and meaningful!
Friedlander, Z’tl, points out that in the Bracha of Retzei we reference the terms Retzei,
BeRatzon and LeRatzon. The emphasis
on Ratzon is based upon our pleading to turn the moment into an Eis
Ratzon--a time when our Tefillos are more acceptable to and accepted by
Hashem. With the emphasis on Retzei and Ratzon, we
additionally emphasize our absolute belief that everything in our life is
based upon Hashem’s Will, and His Hashgacha Pratis over us.
Indeed, living itself is marked by Chaim BeRetzono (Tehillim 30:4).
There is one other point. Just
as a good son wants to please his father, in this Tefillah we express our
desire that our Tefillos and our actions appease and please Hashem, as our
Father in Heaven, as well. We
continue now with the next phrase in the Bracha of: “Vehasheiv
Es HaAvodah LiDvir Beisecha--and restore the Avodah to the Kodesh
HaKodashim.” The Sifsei
Chaim explains that after having just asked Hashem to be pleased with us
and our prayers, we immediately recognize that we are in a tekufah,
a period, of galus--a time of sorely felt Hester
Panim. The light of
Hashem’s Shechina will shine upon us only when the Beis HaMikdash is
rebuilt, and the great Kedusha that reigns there, and in the services
performed there, will draw us so much closer to Him.
The reason the Kodesh HaKodashim is referred to as the Dvir
of the Bayis is because it is from
the Kodesh HaKodashim only that the Dibur
of Hashem comes forth towards His people, as the Pasuk (Shemos 25:22)
teaches: “ViDibarti Itecha Mai’al
HaKapores Mibein Shenei HaKeruvim.”
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 94:1, Mishna Berurah seif katan 7)
rules that when davening Shemone Esrei we should view ourselves as standing
before this very Kapores. This is the one time that we refer to the Holy of
Holies in the Shemone Esrei and our longing for it--let us make it count!
The Bracha continues:
“V’ishei Yisrael U’Sefillasam B’Ahava Sekabel BeRatzon--the
fire offerings of Yisrael and their Tefillos accept with love and favor.”
There are different approaches to the term V’ishei
Yisrael, and whether it is connected to the earlier part of the Bracha,
or whether it is connected to U’Sefillasam
(as we have presented it here). The
Avudraham in fact brings both opinions.
Importantly, the G’ra accepts the first opinion--putting a period
after V’ishei Yisrael--connecting
the fire offerings to the service in the Beis HaMikdash (Dvir
Beisecha). The other possibility
is that the term Ishei Yisrael refers
to the Neshamos of the Tzaddikim in Shomayim (see Tosfos to Menachos 110A)
or perhaps even to the people of Israel (the term Ish
is similar to man), in which case it can be combined with the next phrase of
U’Sefillasam B’Ahava Sekabel
B’Ratzon. At this point,
we not only ask that our Avodah is accepted B’Ratzon,
but also B’Ahava--love.
When one demonstrates love, he does something above and beyond what
is otherwise expected, and what is otherwise deserved.
We are asking Hashem to demonstrate this love to us--by accepting us
and our prayers. The previous
time we had used the term B’Ahava in Shemone Esrei was back in the first
Bracha where we stated: “U’Meivi
Go’el Livnei Veneihem LeMa’an Shemo B’Ahava.”
It is clear that the Anshei Knesses HaGedolah, with their Ruach HaKodesh, very
judiciously utilize the term B’Ahava--and
so we should very much appreciate and emphasize its meaning--as we recite it
We continue with the
phrase: “U’sehi LeRatzon Tomid Avodas Yisrael Amecha--and may the service
of Your people always be favorable to You.”
HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, points out that by the word Tomid--always,
we ask that Hashem revitalize and renew our finding of favor in His eyes.
It is interesting to note that in the last Bracha of Shema Koleinu
and earlier in this Bracha we referred to ourselves as Amecha
Yisrael, and we now refer to ourselves as Yisrael
Amecha--putting Yisrael first
We may suggest that with this we emphasize that even if we ourselves
are not worthy, we ask Hashem to recall the zechus of Yisrael, who is otherwise known as the Bechir She’beAvos--the chosen one of the Avos, from whom the
twelve Shevatim came forth. [We
found that the Kuntres Avodas
HaTefillah gives a different explanation to the juxtaposition of Yisrael and Amecha, see
there.] The Bracha now
Eineinu BeShuvecha L’Tzion B’Rachamim--may our eyes see Your
merciful return to Tzion.” Here,
we make one of our most powerful requests in all of Shemone Esrei:
We ask not only that our own eyes witness the return of Hashem to
Tzion, but that the return occur B’Rachamim--without the devastation and destruction that could
otherwise accompany the Chevlei Moshiach or the war of Gog U’Magog--but
through Mercy, in peace. If
it is difficult for us to shed a meaningful tear at this point, at the very
least the two great requests contained in this phrase should be made with
true supplication and real meaning and feeling.
One should feel it in the here and now!
We conclude the bracha
with the words: “Baruch Atta Hashem
HaMachazir Shechinaso L’Tzion--Who restores His Shechina to Tzion.” The
Pasuk in Eicha (1:6) writes: “VaYeitzei
Min Bas Tzion Kol Hadara--all of the beauty of Tzion left her.”
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that this Pasuk is the reason
we refer to Tzion here, as we appeal to Hashem that Tzion’s beauty
return with the complete and outward presence of the Shechina. HaRav Schwab, Z’tl,
in the monumental, must-have-in-your-home
Sefer, Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll) teaches as follows: “This
Bracha is said in the present tense, although it has not happened yet,
because we have such Emunah that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will return His presence
to Tzion that we can visualize it before our eyes, as if it has already
taken place. How can we explain the difference between Tzion and
Yerushalayim? HaRav Schwab
explains: “Usually, the word
Tzion refers to the Beis HaMikdash, as in Tzion
Mishkan Kevodecha, and the term Yerushalayim means the city, V’Lirushalayim
Ircha [Tanach is replete with examples of these uses.]
Tzion conveys the idea of the ‘outstanding’ aspect of the Jewish
nation. It describes the Beis HaMikdash, with its focal point being the
Kodesh HaKadashim, which contains evidence of the Torah Shebichsav and Torah
Shebe’al Peh. It radiates the
truth of Torah to the world through the Sanhedrin that sits within its
portals, Ki MiTzion Teitzeih Torah
(Yeshayahu 2:3). Therefore we
could say that Tzion, the Beis HaMikdash, represents the neshama of the Jewish nation. Yerushalayim,
the city, could be said to represent the guf
of the Jewish nation. It is the embodiment of the Torah MiTzion in the
physical life of Am Yisrael. Accordingly,
Yerushalayim, as the incorporation of the Torah MiTzion--with all the
mundane activities of the physical life of the Jewish nation-- has great
kedusha as well. The Navi
describes it as: “VeHaya Kol Sir
BeYerushalayim U’VeYehuda Kodesh LaHashem Tzevakos--and it will be
that every pot in Yerushalayim and in Yehuda will be holy unto Hashem...”
(Zechariah 14:21). Even the
cooking pots will be Kodesh LaHashem! For
a broader explanation of the concept of Tzion see Rav
Schwab on Prayer, where HaRav Schwab comments on the words “Yimloch
Hashem L’Olam Elokai’ich Tzion.”
How important--how enlightening!
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