Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin
FOCUS ON TEFILLAH ARCHIVE
In the Bracha of VeLamalshinim,
we ask Hashem to remove from our midst any and all heretical teachings and
thoughts, so that all will in unison wholeheartedly believe in the Torah
SheBichsav and the Torah Shebe’al Peh.
The Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that when reciting the words U’Malchus
Zadon/ VeHazeidim we should have in mind that we are davening for the
destruction of Amalek (who attack us be’zadon).
In fact, the Ya’aros Devash writes that we fulfill a Mitzvas Asei from the
Torah of Zachor Eis Asher Asah Lecha
Amalek when we have this Kavannah. We
should feel an enmity in our hearts for Amalek, and pray that the enemies of
Hashem and His people receive their just punishment (including any
punishment we would deserve--for our sins stem from and through them), and
that any bounty that they have or are to receive should flow through to us
from Hashem’s Hand, Kime’az
U’Mikedem--as in previous days.
Birkas HaMinim is
really the 19th Bracha of Shemone Esrei, as it was instituted
after the Churban, in Yavneh (Brachos 28B).
Thus, it seems to directly relate to our condition post-Churban,
during which we are inundated by heretical thoughts and philosophies, and
face enemies from within and without. HaRav
Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, explains that we accordingly first begin with Velamalshinim
Al Tehi Sikva--may all of those who are antagonistic to Torah, who
falsify reports against us and who antagonize or act with antagonism towards
us, have no success or hope in their endeavors.
Furthermore, Vechol HaRisha
KeRegah Toveid. We do not
daven necessarily that the evildoers be eradicated, but that the evil itself
will be eliminated not over time--but KeRega--immediately.
Our plea for the immediate destruction of evil, HaRav Friedlander
writes, exactly parallels our Tefilla on the Yomim Noraim of ‘Vechol HaRisha Kula KeAshan Tichleh’--i.e., that Risha be
destroyed immediately--going up in smoke so that the world at large will
acknowledge its fallacy. Even in
these ‘modern times’, we have movements to ban Shechita here, and Bris
Melah there. Even in these ‘modern times’ we have leaders of Jewish
sects who do not believe c’v that the Torah is from Hashem, and who aver
that they do not await our return to the Avodah of the Bais HaMikdash.
Succinctly stated, we have needed this Bracha over the last 2,000
years--and we need it now. Perhaps
when the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt…we can revert back to 18 Brachos.
May we find out in our day. In
the interim, let us be sure we impart all of the Kavannah that we can into
this timely Bracha!
have already mentioned that according to the Sefer Ya’aros
Devash, we fulfill a Mitzvas Asei when we mention the zeidim, and our prayer for their destruction in this bracha.
Actually, we ask that Hashem punish the zeidim
in four different ways (in Nusach Askhkenaz, in Nusach Sfard additional
punishments are asked for as well). Specifically,
we ask that Hashem should Se’aker,
Seshaber, Semager, and Sachniah the
zeidim. HaRav Shimon Schwab,
Z’tl, in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer ( a must for everyone’s home) explains that
these four verbs represent four different types of punishments:
Se’aker--means to uproot, to prevent any future growth.
It is our Tefillah that any movement that attempts to take Jews away
from Judaism--either by force or persuasion--shall be uprooted and grow no
Seshaber--means that they should break into various factions thus rendering them
ineffective in their evil objective.
Semager--is our Tefillah that they be cut into small pieces. (Hakhel Note:
a Rav once noted that he does not know what Semager
means--but it certainly does not sound good!)
Sachniah--means to humble them, so that any remaining individual
zaidim are humbled and rendered harmless.
Hakhel Note: Even with
respect to Yerushalayim, we only once ask that Hashem hurriedly return (Meheirah)
the Kisei Dovid there.
Yet, with respect to this Tefillah against the zaidim--within
this one phrase we ask that Hashem take care of them Meheirah
and then again BiMeheirah V’Yameinu.
This is how urgent our
request is. We add that a Rav
once explained that V’Yameinu means
not only in one’s own lifetime but in our
lifetime, including the lifetime of even the eldest among us!
We conclude this bracha
with the words Shover Oyvim
U’Machniya Zaidim. It is
important for us to recognize that just as a Kiddush Hashem results from the
Bnei Yisroel who miraculously leave Mitzrayim, there is equal Kiddush Hashem
in the destruction of our enemies at Kriyas Yam Suf and in the wars to
conquer Eretz Yisroel. In this
we strive not for violence, not for the vanquishment of
others, but to bring the world to its purpose.
We have all kinds of enemies, we have the Malshinim
(those that slander us), we have the Minim
(the heretics), we have the people like Amaleik who are out for our physical
destruction--even for our obliteration.
All of these are not only our enemies, but are Hashem’s enemies as
well. With the destruction of
the tumah that they represent, more Kedusha is brought into the entire
world. It is perhaps for this
reason that this Bracha is particularly placed in between the bracha of Hasheva
Shofteinu and Al HaTzaddikim,
both of which represent bringing greater Kedusha into the world through the
Gedolim Olam we are davening for there. We must eradicate the evil, so that
the good from all sides can shine forth.
Hakhel Note: We reiterate
that we mention the word Meheira
more times in this bracha than in any other, for with the accomplishment of
Sur Mei’rah soon we will be all the more close to the Aseh Tov which we so
desperately await. Let us pause
for a moment--at each Meheira with
the Kavannah that it happen speedily!
SECOND SET --------------------------
The Levush writes that
this bracha corresponds to the bracha recited by the Malochim at Kriyas Yam
Suf--“Baruch Atta Hashem Shover
Oyvim U’Machnia Zaidim--which they recited when the Mitzriyim were
drowning at sea.” The first
phrase of the Bracha is: “VeLamalshinim
Al Tehi Sikvah--and for the slanderers let there be no hope.” HaRav
Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that this is not necessarily a curse
against the slanderers--but a plea to Hashem that the slanderers not see the
fruits of their slander, and thus cease to slander on their own.
However, to the extent any Malshin
is a Mosser, that Malshin does have the Halacha of a rodef, and it is a Mitzvah to kill him rather than allow oneself to
be killed. Although the bracha
does address our non-Jewish enemies later as well, the Eitz Yosef points out that the Malshinim
here are the heretics within our people, those that do not believe in Torah
Shebichsav and Torah Shebe’al Peh. Hakhel
Note: We know so many of our
brethren who are unaffiliated, or who ascribe to denominations under the
term ‘Judaism’, which do not believe in Torah MiSinai and the other
basics of our faith. Although
the leaders of these denominations may be more ‘educated’ and disbelieve
maliciously or at least recklessly, many of their followers are simply
ignorant of true Torah beliefs. If
we can use HaRav Kanievsky’s explanation, and pray with the words Al
Tehi Sikvah that our ‘educated’ and uneducated brethren realize that
there is no hope in their misbeliefs and disbeliefs--we can bring them back
to the point that they too may recite the other 18 Brachos of Shemone Esrei.
May it be speedily and in our
The next phrase is “Vechol
HaRisha KeRega Toveid--and may all wickedness perish in an instant.”
The Sefer Sifsei Chaim
points out that we do not ask for the wicked to perish--but for the
wickedness to vanish. This is
based upon Chazal who teach that Dovid HaMelech asked: “Yitamu
Chataim Min Ha’aretz--that sin be expunged from the earth--and not the
sinners.” The Sifsei
Chaim also points out that the language here is strikingly similar to
the language we recite on the Yamim Noraim:
“Vechol HaRisha KeAshan
Tichleh”--where we ask that all evil go up in smoke.
All of this will happen when the world realizes Hashem’s
authority--as then all of the designs of those fighting against that
authority are shown to be nothing more than a smoke screen which suddenly
dissipates. The next phrase is
“VeChol Oyvecha Meheirah Yikareisu” in which we pray that the
enemies of Hashem, which are the enemies of K’lal Yisrael, are removed without
achieving their intentions. In
Shemone Esrei we infrequently use the word ‘Meheirah’--quickly.
Whenever we do, teaches the Sifsei
Chaim, it is because we are emphasizing that any delay in fulfilling our
request causes Chilul Hashem, and--when our request is met, Kiddush Hashem
will immediately result. We
daven for Kiddush Hashem--let us do so with full intent and sincerity!
We continue with the
phrase “V’Hazeidim Meheirah Se’aker
U’Seshaber U’Semager V’Sachinah BeMeheirah V’Yameinu--and may
the purposeful evildoers be quickly uprooted, smashed, thrown down, and
humbled speedily and in our day. The
Kuntres Avodas HaTefillah explains
that the Zaydim are those who make
Tzaros for K’lal Yisrael. HaRav
Shimon Schwab, Z’tl, includes the practice of communism and missionary
practices (including the fundamentalists) as examples of Zaydim--for
they intentionally fight against Torah and the Jewish religion.
We, of course, can include the leaders of certain Mideastern and
other countries within the category of Zaydim
against our people--and daven for the Se’aker,
Seshaber…of each and every one of them.
It is extremely important to realize (as we have noted in the past)
that within our one phrase we reference the word Meheirah--quickly--twice!
The second time we ask that it be BeMeheirah
V’Yameinu--not only quick from a historical perspective--but so quick
that it happens in our times so that we ourselves can see the Kavod Shomayim
that results! One additional
point: There are, of course,
real differences between Se’aker,
Seshaber… (in Nusach Sefard there are even more)--and we should
accordingly feel the difference of the simple meaning of each word as we recite
We conclude the Bracha
with the words “Baruch Atta Hashem
Shover Oyvim U’Machniyah Zaydim--who breaks enemies and humbles the
intentional sinners.” HaRav
Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, writes that by the breaking of our enemies we
mean Ad LeKilyon--to their total destruction.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, points out that enemies must be broken
because they want to harm us directly, while Zaydim
are broad-based Reshaim and
therefore humbling them may be
sufficient. HaRav Schwab, Z’tl,
provides a slightly different explanation as to why we specifically ask that
our enemies be broken and that the
evildoers be humbled.
Oyvim means enemies who
wish to destroy us physically--they must be broken. Zaydim
refers to the evildoers who wish to destroy us spiritually. If they are
humbled, they will not have the audacity to attempt to proselytize us. What
we are asking for here is that eventually all the movements that are bent on
destroying the Jewish people--physically or spiritually--be eliminated. Rav
Schwab concludes that this Bracha is said in the present tense--as if it is
happening now--because we have absolute faith that this will be realized!
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