Feb 23, 2009
February 22, 2009
Mrs. Raize Guttman
We are going to be speaking about thanking Hashem! Which is something that we all I’m sure we’re all very interested in and we should be doing most of the time. The last part of the shmoneh esrei is actually catered to this specific need and this specific object of thanksgiving. This is the place that we attempt to express our hakaras hatov [appreciation] to Hashem for all of the millions of kindnesses that he does for us every second.
This is also in place of the korban todah [sacrifice of thanksgiving] that was given in the holy temple. If you remember last week, we spoke about the service in the Holy Temple which constitueted all the sacrifices. This blessing is the continuation of that in the sense that in the holy temple, part of the service was the sacrifice of the korban todah. When we say this blessing [at least until moshiach comes] this is in place of that sacrifice.
The question is what is appreciation? What is hakaras hatov? I think the answer to that question is in the word hakaras hatov – it literally means recognition, to be conscious of the good. The first step of trying to achieve some sense of appreciation of g-d is to recognize the good. its not enough to have good, many people have lots of good but they don’t recognize it. Therefore they’re not happy and theyre not grateful for it.
The second way is to appreciation is to recognize that all Good is really G-d!!
Good is two “O”s and G-d is one “O”. Hashem is the true source of al; good
When we use the expression recognition of the good, what it really means Hatov, the one and only source of goodness! So hakaras hatov really can be translated as recognition of G-d.
The more one brings God, and awareness of G-d into his life the happier he will be
And this is the first thing we say in this blessing.
If you look into the blessing “we thank you” Why? What’s the first thing we’re going to thank Hashem for? We go through a whole long list of things we’re going to thank Him for. The first thing we thank Him for is “That you are Hashem our G-d”! That is the very first thing to thank Hashem for, the fact that G-d is our G-d. that we have this G-d and we have relationship with him and we have this connection to Him, and there’s no greater good than that. That’s hakaras Hatov Recognition of Good or recognition of G-d. Recognition of G-dliness which is really the same thing.
The essence of every Jew is hakaras hatov, is thankfulness, is appreciation. What’s the first words you say when you wake up in the morning? You open up your eyes and the first thing you say is “Modeh Ani”. Modeh is the same word that we are using here in this blessing. I thank you Hashem. In essence, grammatically speaking we should really be saying “Ani Modeh” “I thank You Hashem.” And yet we don’t say that, we say “Modeh Ani” Rav Shimshon Pinkus tells us why, the first thing you should say when you wake up in the morning should not be “I”.
The first thing you should say is “I thank You Hashem!”
This is how we begin our day, this is how we begin life is with thankfullness. The name of the Jew is Yehudi. We’re all called Yehudim. What does this mean? Yehuda comes from the name that Leah gave her fourth son. The first son she called Reuven, the second son she called Shimon and the third she called levi and the fourth son she called Yehuda.
Why? It says “Hapaam odeh es Hashem,” I am so overcome with thankfulness, I’m overcome with gratefulness! I have four sons already, who ever dreamed that i would have four sons? Based on the name Yehuda – which means to thank, we are called Yehudim. We’re not called Reuvenim or Shimonim… some of us are called Leviim, but all of us are called Yehudim. That means a Jew. Why? Why is the name of a Jew Yehudi? Because that’s the essence of a Jew! What does it mean to be a Jew? A jew means someone who wakes up and says modeh ani, he is connected with Hashem, he is filled with hakaras hatov.
How important is it to have hakaras hatov??
I once learnted that the more hakaras hatov a person has in this world to that extent will a person be able to enjoy his place in the afterlife forever and ever and all of eternity. Meaning, the amunt of hakaras hatov, appreciation and the amount of g-dliness a prsn finds and looks for and sees in his life here, that’s how much a person is going to enjoy g-dliness in the next world.
My principal In high school [Rabbi Kramer] once taught us this. He said imagine the next world as a big ampithetar like Madison square garden and everyone sits all around and theshow is in the middle of the field. Lets say olam haba is that big ampitheater. Everyone has a portion in the world to come so Everyone has a different seat.Some people have box seets, those are The really righteous people, they get the box seats. Then all along people have portions and seats and The people in the back in the bleachers all the way up they need binoculars to watch the show. Those are the least of the righteous people. What is the show that we’re all going to be watching in the next world? That is the schnina, that is G-ds presence. We are all going to be sitting around in the next world enjoying the radiance of the schnina.
This is what the Mesilas Yehsarim, the Path of the Just [the book that I told you about last week] is how he starts off his first chapter he talks about
The concept of the next world is enjoying the radiance of the schina. Wow it sounds beautiful! We’re all going to be sitting in our allotted portion, enjoying the radiance of the shchina forever and ever and all of eternity. It sounds nice it sunds loveley, but it sounds a bit boring after a while, no? I mean, how long can you sit and watch the same show?? The answer is depending on how much you appreciate the show that’s how boring or not boring or exciting it will be for you.
ForA person who spends his entire life seeking out G-dliness, Hashem “hakaras HaTov” , recognizing the good in his ife and recognizing Hashem in his life,
Everywhere he goes he is searching for Hashem
My grandmother used to love going shopping in the shuk. After we had a couple of bombings and all kind of nebach tragedies in the shuk here in Israel, I used to tell her “Bubby please do me a favor, don’t go to the shuk! I’ll get you the vegetables in my neighborhood and I’ll bring them over to you, so I’ll pay a few shekels more, I don’t care. But do me a favor, I’m scared, don’t go to the shuk. I don’t want you walking around the shuk.” And she used to tell me:
“Raizy, I have to go to the shuk! When I go to the shuk I see ahsem! Everywhere I turn I see Hashem. I see so many different types of people, beautiful oranges and beautiful apples and so many different types of fruits and vegetables. Everywhere I go all I see is Hashem.” I said “You know what Bubby? If all you see in the shuk is Hashem, then go to the shuk!”
I always think of my grandmother, no matter where you are no matter what you’re doing always look for the good. Always look for G-d. It’s the same thing, G-d is the source of all goodness.
HWne a person tries to find meaning and purpose in his own life and everything that happens to him, such a person will come up after 120 years and all of a sudden will look at the show, he’ll look at the show and say Wow! This is what I’ve been seeking for my whole life! This is what I have been after, and here it is! It will be the most beautiful fascinating, interesting, enjoyable show for ever. His soul will never get enough of that which is soul was seeking his whole life.
For a person who spent nhis life in this world running after trivialities and all kinds of silliness, that really did not connect him to G-d in anyway, he didn’t look to see the beauty in the world and the beauty in his life. He’ll come up and see the schina and wont mean anything to him he wont have any connection to it. Such a person, to sit in his portion forever and ever and all of eternity that will be gehennom!
The next world really is hell and heaven in the same place. For some people it will be hell and for some it will be heaven depending on how much appreciation and awareness of the good he ran after and saught his entire life.
Appreciate G-d, seeing the good and that’s why we are called yehudim and that’s why we say modeh ani when we wake up.
Theres a beautiful commentary on these words by the Toras Chaim, he says such a beautiful thing that I’m going to read it inside
“It seems that we must interpret, since G-d blessed is He, does kindness with every man, every day and every time and every minute. However the person who is experiencing all of these miracles doesn’t realize all of the miracles going on around him. He assumes that the world runs on its natural course, and he doesn’t feel that every step that he takes and every move that he makes, and every breath that he breathes it is all directly from G-d. and it would be appropriate that a person should thank and he should bless every minute, constantly, for every step for every movement and every breath a person should constantly be saying thank you. Any person who does not recognize every minute that everything is from G-d but just assumes that of course I’m able to move my hand! This person is as if he is someone who doesn’t believe, he is like a heretic. Since it is impossible that a person should stand from the morning until the night and he should give constant praise and thanks for every step and every movement and since anyways most of the world is running after silliness and nonsense and not involved in these lofty thoughts; Everyone is running after money. Therefore the men of the great assembly, since we really should be thanking Hashem every minute, the men wrote down this prayer so that every morning, afternoon and evening we should be thanking Hashem so that a person can encompass in this one blessing, all of the breaths that he breathes and all of the constant kindness and wonders he can fulfill his obligation of thanking Hashem all day long by saying modem and having in mind that I really wish I could thank you all day long. Hashem I am thanking you now Tati thank you for all the chesed and kindness you do for me. Therefore we say these words “Modim anachnu lach”
This is exactly what the blessing is talking about
“We thank you Hashem that you are our G-d and the go-d of our fathers, you are our rock, you are the rock of our lives” It’s a sign of strength. We can always rely on Hashem. He is strong and reliable.
“The shield of our salvation” Any salvation any type of yeshua, it all comes from Hashem.
“It is You Hashem for every generation therefore we thank you, we will relate your praise” For our lives that are committed into your hands. I’m a nothing and anybody if not for you. For the miracles that happen to us every single day. For the wonders, for the favors that you do for us that are there for us at all times. The difference between your miracles and “your wonders” miracles are the changes in nature.
Then there are the wonders like breathing and rain. That really are truly miraculous but
There’s no difference between nature and miracles except that nature happens frequently but miracles happen infrequently.
Its equally as miraculous as splitting the sea! We view one as a miracle as absolutely amazing and earth shattering. Equally so we thank G-d for the wonders for the things he does for us all the time. The favors that you do all the time, in the evening, morning and afternoon” this is the same thing that we said before. In this blessing of modiim. The men do when they daven three times a day. And we end off by “You are the good” when we say hakaras haTov, this is what we’re talking about. Why is he good? Because Your compassion never ends. You are merciful because your kindness never ends. For always we hope to you. Meaning that the only one that we can trust and look to for any type of help or mercy is to You. It’s interesting because here we see that G-ds goodness is based on his mercy. We are saying that everything tat G-d does is good. Only G-d can have true ercy on someone because only G-d knows what is truly good for us
When it comes to us, we can have mercy on someone only as much as we can see. We try to alleviate that suffering but we don’t really know why they are suffering maybe this suffering is really good for them! But G-d and his mercy are intertwined. His goodness comes from his mercy
G-ds Mercy is found in his name “Yud Key Vuv Key” Every name is a manifestation of a different attribute of G-d. Whenever we have the name “Ado ---“ Whenever we see that name written out, its G-ds mercy.
Yud and Hey, and Vuv and Hey stand for past present and future. G-d is all merciful past present and future. The connection is that the only reason that G_d is all merciful and completely compassionate is because G-d sees the whole picture. We have a limited understanding and we don’t have a full understanding of what G-d
How they were affected in the past or who they’ll be effected in the future. We make judgments based on the picture we see right now. The definition of Good is not what we like or makes us feel comfortable. Anything that brings us closer to G-d is good. He is merciful because he sees the whole picture. He knows what happen before and he knows what the ramifications are. He sees how you’re playing your role.
They’re not! They are all coming from G-ds mercy. Being able to see the whole picture. His goodness is pure because He knows exactly what we need.
1. Be Makir – open his eyes and focus on all the wonderful and beautiful things he has in his life. That’s the first step, open up your eyes and look and see and
Trace all this goodness back to its source, finding G-d and recognizing him in every aspect.
Remember that recognizing the good doesn’t mean if it feels good then its good and everything that Hashem does is for our good. This is a way that we can truly feel appreciation to G-d always. We don’t have to wait for everything in life to be perfect. Everyone has their tests and their difficulties. And probably those tests and difficulties are where we’re going to grow the most.
In order to achieve great levels in the world to come
G_D knows all of that. For this we have to appreciate G_d and feel hakaras hatov. And recognize G_d in every aspect of life
The second part of this blessing we say for all the kindnesses “May Your name be blessed, our King always and forever” For all of these G-d, we exalt you and bless your name forever.
“All of the life will thank you forever” What we’re talking about is the entire world. Animals and every aspect of nature that every aspect of the entire universe sings its own special thanks to G-d.
Perek Shirah, what it is is the entire universe, the sun the moon the ocean, every aspect of the world has its own special verse, from psalms every one has its own special prayer of praise and thanks to G-d. The entire world is so indebted to you for all the good that you do. Every aspect of the world, naturally thanks G-d. That’s what they do, they don’t have free choice. Man is only the being in the entire world that has the free choice. Out of our own free will and that raises us up over every aspect of life including the angels! They sing praise because that’s what they were created to do. When a person chooses and really thanks G_d for whatever situation it is, whatever it is, to say “G-d I am totally connected to you! You love me, you are filled with mercy and filled with goodness, and is perfectly suited for my needs. All of life praises you G-d but man
The word Chaim stands for 4 different types of people who have an extra measure of gratefulness of G-d. People who say birchas hagomel, which people do after 4 different situations. Anyone who has experienced chaim will especially thank you.
Ches= choleh, someone who was ill and was healed.
Yud= yam, someone who travels over the oceans and arrives at their destination safely
Yud= yissurim, anyone who was locked up in jail and got out of jail, has an extra measure of thankfulness to G-d.
Mem= midbar, someone who travels through the desert. Years ago that’s how people traveled.
They will praise your name in truth. G-d who is our salvation and our help, forever.
The question on these words is why do we first say thank you to Hashem for being or salvation and then for being our hope?
Don’t stop praying and realizing that im in a desperate need ofG-ds help and not to take things for granted. Therefore we say after we experience a salvation where we feel g-ds kindness in a tremendous way, don’t stop thanking Hashem and thanking him constantly for all the regular things you thank him for. Don’t just live from one big thing to another big thing. I’ll give you a story
When I was in high school, we had a teacher her name was Mrs. Press. She’s now the principal, she received a whole bunch of phone calls within 6 months she received all of the se different phone calls.
She gets a phone call from a girl “Everything’s fine, but I’m having such anxiety because everyone is getting their seminary acceptances. Once I know where I’m going and have it all straightened out ill really be able to enjoy life. I can’t think straight”
another phone call from a girl who came home from pesach “I love seminary and love Israel, but I don’t know, I cant really fully enjoy myself because I’m so worried about what’s going to be next year. I’m just so nervous that I find myself so anxious. Once things fall into place I’ll be happy.”
Another one, from a girl a year out of seminary “Everything’s fine, I started dating and the whole shidduch scene is driving me bananas, I’m so worried I cant eat and cant sleep. I see girls who are much older than me who are not married”
A girl who was engaged, “Such a wonderful chosson, everything’s great but the engagement period is such a crazy time. It’s so uncomfortable, once I get married things will fall into place. I’m so nervous and worried I cant really enjoy myself
A girl who was married a year “So nervous, I’m not pregnant, once I’m pregnant and everything’s ok, I find myself not being able to enjoy myself. Once I am pregnant I know for sure that I’ll be happy!”
And you could already imagine, the next girl is pregnant and she’s all worried until she gives birth, then as the child grows up.
Issues in life don’t disappear; at every stage in life there are other hurdles to deal with. Not to have hakaras hatov now is a sin!!
“Yesterday was the past, tomorrow is the future, today is a gift and that’s why its called the present.”
Its up to us to truly acknowledge that present and not to always be worried and nervous. These things take us away from bonding with our creator.
We end of this beautiful blessing with “Blessed are you G-d, whose name is good and to whom it is fitting to praise”
The lechem ra’av says the first letters of these words spell out: Hey Shin, a Vuv a Nun and a Lamed. All of those leters to gether spell out “Halashon” The tongue. The whole purpose of a tongue is to thank Hashem.
Which is the greatest thing that we all have to be thankful for.
Feb 18, 2009
Feb 10, 2009
Mrs. Raizy Guttman
It’s a very special bracha that we’re up to. We’re actually up to the last of the 13 intermediate blessings, the thirteen requests that encompass all of our individual and collective needs.
The first 6, lets do a quick review, were the requests for the individual. We ask for da’as which was knowledge and insight. We ask for repentance, forgiveness. We ask for geulah which is our personal redemption from our individual difficulties and problems in life. We ask for health and healing. The 6th is sustenance and livelihood.
The following 6 are reqests for the nation as a collective whole and therefore map out the stages and requests for the messiah. Because these are everything that we can hope for. Anything that we could hope for will take place when moshiach comes.
Ingathering of the exiles when all Jews will come together. We spoke about blowing the shofar and G-d making great miracles.
The 8th blessing was the blessing of restoration of the true judges where we’ll have the great leaders to guide us in the spirit of torah.
the 9th blessing is the removal of evil
the 10th is the blessing on the tzadikim which is the elevation and reward of the good where everyone will get exactly what they deserve
the 11th is the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the holy Temple
the 12th is the rule of moshiach and what will happen when moshiach will come and a descendant of king david will rule
The last of our requests now is an all encompassing prayer that unites all the previous requests and gives meaning and purpose to all our prayers. It is a request that all our prayers be answered. All of our prayers that we asked for up until now, now we collectively ask that G-d answer all of our prayers. In this short but deeply meaningful prayer, we gain many insights into the essence of prayer and different strategies on how to have our prayers answered. As we go through the words we will point out a few of these strategies and how to achieve them. This prayer is also called all encompassing because one is encouraged to speak to G-d in his own words. In any language and to beg G-d for his own personal requests and we’ll point out the exact place that one can do this in this prayer.
Rav Hirsch Shatz points out that the previous blessing of Moshiach, of the kingdom of David, we concluded our reqests about the future redemption, and with this prayer of “listen to our voice” we return to the present and our prayers in exile. The words of this blessing are actually very appropriate for begging G-d to save us from the exile. The first time that these words were said were by the angels. When did the angels say these words? The angels said “Blessed are you G-d who answers prayers” When? When the Jews were in exile in Egypt. Now how appropriate is this Saturday night of when we just read about this in shul. We just read about the exodus from Egypt how G-d took the Jews out of Egypt and split the sea. And this is exactly when this blessing that we’re speaking about tonight, the angels said these words when the Jews were in exile in Egypt and were crying out to G-d to save them. Therefore this is a real Exile prayer that G-d should help all of us individually and collectively from all the difficulties that we experience in exile just as He did for the Jews in Egypt and heard their cries and answered them.
So we begin with the words “Shema Koleinu”. If you want to look in your siddur, the first words of this very beautiful and personal and meaningful prayer is “Listen to our voice”. Now, we don’t say listen to our prayer. We don’t say listen to our reqests our supplications, rather we say listen to our voice .Now the voice symbolizes the inner voice of a person. It symbolizes the true deep down desire of a person. I’ll give you an example: when Sarah wanted to send Yishmael [Abrahams son] out of the house, because he wasn’t be a good influence on Yitzchak, Abraham was a little bit wary about this. I mean, Abraham was Mister Chesed, Mister Kindness. He invited everyone into his house! And now he has to throw his own son out of his house?! It was a very difficult thing for him. And yet G-d comes to Abraham and says “Whatever Sarah tells you to do, listen to her voice”. And what’s the significance of “listen to her voice”? Why didn’t G-d just say “listen to her!” Whatever Sarah says listen to her. Or listen to this particular thing. Whatever she tells you right now it’s a good thing. But He didn’t say that, He said “listen to her voice”. Meaning whatever Sarah tells you. Meaning anything that Sarah tells you Abraham, listen to her because she knows what she’s talking about, right? She has an innate connection to spirituality which is her voice.
So we say to G-d, that although we don’t always know exactly what to say, and sometimes we say the words and we don’t fully understand or appreciate what we’re saying. We tell G-d to overlook our human frailties and to look straight into my neshama, my inner voice. My true inner will which is only to become close to You.
So we see the first strategy in having our prayers answered is also probably the most important and practical strategy. Is by focusing on that inner voice. Not just telling G-d to do so, to say “Shema Koleinu” and then totally not concentrate on what we’re saying. We don’t say “OK G-d, You just look inside my soul and answer me”. But no! By focusing on that inner voice by trying very hard to concentrate and express what is truly inside of us. And this is achieved through having real intent. By really looking at the words that we’re saying. And that’s why we’re having these classes! All these classes are for the purpose of helping us truly understand what we’re saying so that we can tap into that voice and not just mouth off the words that are written in the siddur but actually have a deep understanding of what we’re saying, which is our inner voice.
Its true that we tell G-d that even if I don’t have the right intention, please G-d, answer my prayers anyway. But if we want to really arouse the Divine mercy we can concentrate carefully on the words that we’re saying. Like it says “A prayer without intent is like a body without a soul.” Just mouthing off the words does not show G-d our inner yearning for closeness to him, right? One would not speak to a doctor with whom he’s begging to save his life in a passive and distracted way. He would beg him “Please please find a cure for my illness!” This person is suffering in terrible pain for months and months. All the more so when we pray to G-d who is really the only one who can help us and save us from anything.
Rav Elyah Lopian used to stress that the main requirement for prayer is two fold. What are the two main intentions? The two main things a person should focus on when he’s praying? He says number one, we have to focus and concentrate on what we’re saying. Meaning know the meaning of the words, understand what you are saying. And number two remember to whom we are saying it. Not to lose focus that I am standing now in front of G-d and speaking now directly to him. Its like if I were standing now in front of that doctor, we wouldn’t forget in the middle of the conversation that we were talking to the doctor! So the same way that of course we see the doctorand he’s a human being and we’re talking directly to him, and with G-d we don’t see Him right in front of us. Our goal is to strive to see G-d right in front of us. That’s the very first thing the Shulchan Aruch tells us [the way a jew is supposed to live his life, ittells us how to wake up in the morning, what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to get dressed how we’re supposed to take a shower. There’s a way to do everything. When a Jew lives by the shulchan aruch he knows exactly what to do always.] The very first words of the shulchan Aruch are “Place G-d in front of me at all times” And if a jew would really do that and live that and always focus on “G-d is in front of me, what does G-d want from me now? If G-d is watching me, how am I going to act now?” And certainly certainly when we pray this is so important. Like R’ Elyah Lopain says these are the two prerequisites. Thes are the main requirements for prayer 1. Know what you’re saying and 2. know to whom you are saying it. Remember that we’re speaking directly to G-d.
Now in order for one’s prayers to be accepted ones heart and inner voice hav eto participate in this process of prayer. So in tehse words we ask G-d “Tap into my inner voice” My true deep intention. And we have to not just ask G-d to do that and make our own efforts to bring out that inner voice. The true inner me, my soul and my desire which is to cleave to G-d and to do His will. We have to try and bring that out as much as possible when we pray. We should be careful to say the words clearly but this is far less important than the intent that is behind the words. We compare ourselves to children of G-d just as a baby and toddler speaks gibberish. You know when a baby starts to talk he says “mama, baba, gaga” and of course nobody understand what the child is talking about except for who? The mother! The mother knows exactly what the child is saying when he says “Baba” It means he wants a bottle! The mother totally understands his language even when it is totally incomprehensible to anybody else. Because she loves her child and she knows what is his intention even when his words are not clear. Somebody who lisps for example or stutters or has any sort of speech impediment preventing him from speaking clearly should not be dismayed by his inability to daven clearly. We know that moses had a speech impediment and yet he was the only man who ever spoke face to face with G-d. I think there’s such a tremendous lesson to learn from this. That moses who couldn’t even speak clearly, he could hardly speak properly. And yet he was the one who was chosen to be the leader fot eh jewish people, to teach Torah to the Jewish people, to speak face to face with G-d so that nobody could later say “G-d, I couldn’t do it because I had a speech impediment” or “I couldn’t do that because I had something else” nobody has an excuse because look at Moses! The truth is that G-d wants the heart and He looks inside our heart to hear our inner voice and we have to do ours by having the proper intention and concentration when we pray.
Now the word tefillah which means prayer, says Rav Shwab actually comes from the word “Pilel” Which means to think. As in the verse in beraishis [48:11], and it says there “I never thought I would see your face”. Therefore, continues Rav Shwab ust saying the word, just the outer voice without thinking them without the inner voice means absolutely nothing. Ones general kavana nad mindset during prayer should be that every minute of hjis life and all of his sustenenc eis totally dependant on g-d this should be our intention. One does not know what the next moment will bring. And when one stand before G-d in prayer he should be aware that he is one heart beat away from oblivion.
Rabbi nachman of breslov used to say [I’m not sure if I have the right words, because I prepared this class on the airplane. As I was coming here. I had a window seat which was wonderful. I kept looking outside and feeling like “What is holding me up?? What is holding this plane up. All these people! This plane weighs a lot, what is holding us up?” I still don’t know how it works! Someone once tried to explain it to me. I was talking to a pilot and he tried to explain to me how the plane stays up. It was very fascinating but I dindt really understand what he was saying. And as I was sitting on the plane and I was prepareing this class about being one heart beat away from oblivion, it was very appropriate because I really felt lik e the whole time I was praying to G-d, “G-d please down let this plane fall down!”]. So Rabbi Nachman of Breslov used to say
“Imagine that you are dangling
by the thinnest hair over
the ocean waves that are
Because dear friend…
[And I really was when I was writing this class!] And this is how we’re supposed to feel when we say this.
We then address G-d directly. The next words that we say after shema koleinu [listen to our inner voice] we say “Hashem Elokeinu” Hashem our G-d. We say “YOU ARE HASHEM!” You are the Great and Lofty, Big and Far, Omnipotent All powerful G-d. And yet at the same time You are our G-d. You are so close to us. The closest possible relationship since You are actually inside of us. My soul is a piece of You G-d. Thus see inside me and hear my inner voice. That’s the connection between “listen to my inner voice” And “Hashem who is so big and so great, and yet You are our individual and private G-d.” Therefore You are so close to me and can know whats going on inside my soul.
Now we continue with the words “Pity us and have mercy on us.” The Avnei Eliyahu explains that theres a difference between these two words that both mean mercy. “Chus” means pity and “Rachem” means mercy. Which is really both the same things. Whats the difference between them? He says that the word “Chus” means pity from the standpoint that we are G-ds creations and his own handiwork. Therefore just as a na artist or a craftsman will have pity on his own work. If I draw a beautiful picture im going to be careful with it. In the same way, G-d should have pity on us because he made us. As we say in the prayers on Rosh Hashana “Have pioty on yoiur handiwork” Chus means G-d have pity on us because You made us. We’re Yours! Rachem on the other hand is a request for G-ds mercy on us because of our lowly state. Not because we deserve anyting but just because “Rachmanus!” We ask “hashem please have mercy on us because we’re nothing. Wehre nobody. We’re nothing and we cant survive one minute without your pity.” And this leads us right into strategy number two in having our prayers accepted.
We must come before G-d with humility. The second strategy is humility. We have to feel totally subservient and powerless and dependant on G-d that without his constant supervision we wouldn’t be around, not even for one second. We actually say this every day when we pray “G-d, the soult hat you put in me is pure, you created it, You made it and You blew it into me, and You babysit it for me.” G-d You babysit that soul that’s inside of me. Because if for one minute you would not be guarding my soul, that’s it I wouldn’t bea ble to live for one more second. How is it that G-d blew into my nostrils my soul and yet my soul doesn’t come out of my nostrils! Or even when I open up my mouth, my soul doesn’t come flying out, or out of my ears. Why is that?> I have all these openings in my body and yet my soul remains inside of me. That’s because G-d is watching over my soul and making sure it doesn’t fly out until the moment that its meant to fly out. So we see here that we are truly powerless and G-d unless he constantly supervices us we cant survive for even one second.
We have to feel completely undeserving for all the kindness that G-d does for me. The reason that we bow at the beginning and end of Shmoneh esrei is to instill in us this feeling of humility. That’s the purpose of the bowing. Now this should be our intention when we are bowing. We are supposed to be thinking atha twe are completely subersvient and humbled before G-d. Its interesting that the High Preist used to bow at the end of every blessing in the shmoneh esrei. And the king used to bow at the beginning and end of every blessing! There are other opinions that say that the king used to remain bowed during the entire prayer. Because the higher ones status is the more he has to bend before g-d and the more he has to work on this characteristic of humility. The higher you are the more you hav eto work on feeling low.
The Shulchan Aruch actually suggests a posture that puts restraint on ones physical posture. Therefore Itcauses one to feel humble. It says one must stand with his feet close together so they’re like one foot . [we all do that] but then he says antoher interesting thing that I didn’t even know this, that one should clasp his hands over his heart, his right hand over his left hand and stand like a slave before his master in awe fear and dread. This posture adds to ones feelings of helplessness and complete subservience to G-d. Its like hwen your feet are together ryou cant walk. And when you r hands are together you cant move your hands. It’s a feeling of being bound up of being tied up like I am powerless. That’s the idea. So that’s the second strategy. The first was to have intention and to tap into our inner voice and to feel that inner voice by really concentrating on the words that we’re saying knowing the meaning of what we’re staying and before whom we are saying it. The second strategy is the strategy of humility, praying with a very humble heart. Feeling completely subservient and completely undersving of all of G-ds gifts.
The enxt words we say are “Accept with mercy and desire our prayers.” Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch explains that we must realize that our prayers as well as Torah learning and good deeds are creating our destiny and the destiny o the world. The Olas Tomid says that we have no idea how our prayers are beloved up in Heaven. And the great and unfathomable effects that they are having on the universe. Even if our own individual requests are not answered the way we wish. Rav Avigdor Miller adds that tefillah, prayer is our gift to G-d. He receives with Ratzon with desire. It gives Him a sort of satisfaction that His will was initiated and developed. We’re supposed to be feeling that what can we already do for G-d? What can we give G-d? Thers really nothing we can give Him because He’s not lacking in any way. Therefore what can we ever give back to Him? What can we do to show Him how much we appreciate everything He does for us? G-d really desires our prayers. Of course he doesn’t NEED our prayers but he desires them. When we pray to G-d we are giving G-d a “nachas” Like a feeling of joy and satisfaction that we’re praying to Him.
This leads us to our third strategy in having prayers accepted which is having confidence in your prayer. The Chofetz Chaim actually writes that in the merit of these three things our prayers will be answered! If a person has these first three strategies that we just mentioned:
1. Kavanah, real strong intention,
2. anavah, Humility, truly fealing humble and subservient
3. Emunah – belief in the power of my prayer
In the merit of these three things our prayers will be answered. The Gemarah in Rosh Hashana brings down a situation of two sick men who were lying on their death bed. Both suffering from the same disease. The first one recovers and goes on to resume a healthy and normal life. The second one got sicker and sicker and eventually died. The Gemarah says “What was the difference between them?” It sayst he first one prayed a complete prayer while the other did not. If you want to look this up it is the Gemarah in Rosh Hashana, 18a. Rav Elyah Lopian comments on this. He says what is the meaning of a complete prayer? What makes a prayer complete? And he goes on to say that it meanst he first man believed in the effectiveness of his prayer. The second man may have prayed with the same intensitiy as the first and he may have understood the meaning of tehwords and he may have prayed with complete subservience and humility and felt undersving and all that, but he ditn truly bleive in his heart that his prayer was going to be effective. So Rashi says that he was “lo niskaven” He didn’t really believ e that his prayer would work. He prayed just in case it could help. Certainly it cant hurt. But he didn’t believe in the complete and tremendous power of his prayer. And this takes a lot of work. To really believe that my prayer has tremendous prayer! My prayer will be effective.
We then say the words “For you G-d, are the G-d who hears prayers and pleadings”. Whats the difference between prayers and pleadings? Tefillah [prayer] coems from the word pillel to think. That’s why the normal terminology that we use when we speak about prayer is tefillah. Like we said a tefillah is a prayer to G-d that is emenating from our thoughts, from logical reasoning. I have to use mypower of thoughts to express the thoughts I have in my mind. That is the simple meaning of prayer. However tachanunim [pleadings] goes deeper. And a step further and much higher level or prayer. Tachanunim means pleading and beseeching. These are prayers that are coming from a different place. They are coming straight from the heart, form the emotions they are an outpouring of ones souls that are usually accompanied by tears. So strategy number 4 is to pray with tears. Pray with deep emotion. The gemarah teaches us in Berachos 32b, From the day that the holy temple was destroyed the gates of prayer are locked. however the gates of tears are never locked. This means that a person’s prayer can reach the pinnacle of heaven but may not penetrate the locked gates of prayer until he cries with emotion and at that moment ht e gates of tears open up. Rav Yonasan Eibishitz says that the numerical value of crying is “bechi” Which is 32 which is the same as the word lev [heart]. One who prays with kavanas halev [emotions of the heart], which is tachanunim [pleading] its not just tefillah. Tefillah is prayer from thoughts and praying from your mind and what’s in your mind. Tachanunim is one who prays with his heart which is a step above. Those prayers enter heaven through the unlocked gates. This also refers to crying out to G-d without actual tears. Meaning even if the tears don’t come, some people find it very difficult to cry. But when one cries out from the depths of his heart, this is also what it means. This is also a crying out even if it doesn’t come with tears.
The Shiltei Giborim writes that whoever cries during prayer, the stars and constellations cry with him. And his prayer is heard. The zohar brings down that prayers with tears are never returned empty. The Satmer Rebbe explains this to mean that when a tearful prayer arrives in heaven, all the prayers that are standing and waiting at the locked gates, because these prayers made it up there. They had humility and they had intent and they had subserviecnea nd all the things hta twe spoke about and a person believes in his prayer. But they were lacking those tears they were lacking that depth of emotions. The satmer rebbe says that all those prayers that are standing and waiting at the locked gate, are swept through to the throne of hashem when one prayer comes in. When you cry and you pour out your heart with that depths of emotion, those tears goes straight up.
A story is told of the Chofetz Chaim who was visiting a small town. And he saw a man sitting by his house and this man was crying bitterly. Why? He had just returned from serving 35 years in the czars army. And Rosh Hashana was coming. The high holy days were coming and he was terribly pained that he had no idea how to pray. He knew he was jewish but for 35 years he was in the army and he had no idea how to pray and he was crying bitterly over this plight. Years later the chofetz chaim returned to this town and he returned to this very place to this street where the man sat and cried, and there stood a bais medrish, a place of prayer and torah learning, a shul! And the chofetz chaim said that he had no doubt that the building was built by the tears of sincerity and yearning of that broken man. And I remember hearing another amazing story. Rav Shimshon Pincus was known for his tremendous depth of emotion and tremendous love for other Jews. One time there was a man in his community who did not have any children ofr many years. Rav Pincus wanted to help him. And he said “Come, were going to go out and im going tot ake you out to nowheresville and drop you off in the middle of the desert somewhere, [I mean he lived in Ofakim which is already in the middle of nowehresville] I’m going to drop you off somewhere and you pour out your heart to G-d. Cry out to him and beg him for a child. The man said OK, Rav Shimshon Pincus took him in his car and dropped him off. It was 12 oclock at night and he said “You pray, I’m going to come pick you up soon.” The man started praying and davening to hashem. He says whatever tehillim he knows. And a half hour later Rav Pincus comes by to pick him up and takes one look at the man and says “are you finished?” the man said “Yeah… I guess so.” Rav Pincus took one look at his face and he said “No. You’re not finished because that’s not what I meant. I want you to cry and beseech Hashem with all your heart! Go back and pray and I’ll pick you up soon.” So its already like 12:30, One in the morning. Rav Pincus drives away and he leaves the man there to pray again. He comes back about an hour later. He takes one look at the man and he says “No. No. That’s not what I meant. You’re going to do this again. I want you to scream and yell and carry on and cry and talk to Hashem like He’s your father and He’s right here in front of you! I want you to cry out your heart to Hashem. I’m going to come back a little later.” And he left this man there in the middle of the night and the man finally understood what Rav Pinkus was talking about. And he started to cry and he started to scream and yell and beg and plead and pour out his heart to Hashem that he was completely totally soacked from sweat and tears. And when Rav Pinkus came back to pick him up, he took one look at him and said “That’s what I meant.” And a year later this man had a child.
We continue with the words “And from before you our King, do not send us away empty handed.” Rav Shwab explains these words so beautifully. He says that when we pray to hashem for our needs, of course we want our needs to be fulfilled and our prayers to be answered. Our prayers always are answered. Sometimes for reasons we cant understand the answer is no. We therefore ask G-d “Do not send us away empty handed” Even if the answer is no we should not go away from our prayer with a feeling of rejection. At least our tefilla should encourage us that we have forged a deeper bond with Hashem through our prayers which is truly the ulimate goal of prayer. We know the story of Chana. Chana didn’t have any children `and she went up to the tabernacle to pray for a childand she was crying and pleasding with G-d for a child, she was baron for 19 years her lips were moving and no sound was coming out. The high priest thought she was drunk she was davening for a child so hard! At the end of her prayer when she finished praying the verse tells us “her face was no longer sad”. Now at that point, Chana had no idea if her prayer will be answered. She didn’t know that 9 months later she was going to have a child and that she was going to have a Samuel the Prophet. She didn’t know that at that point. She had just finished praying and yet she felt uplifted from her prayer. She felt strengthened in her relationship with G-d through her prayer.
Strategy #5: Always have spirituality in mind. Remember that the goal of prayer is coming close to G-d. Even when we ask G-d for wisdom, health, livelihood. For whatever you want. We should always remember that the purpose of prayer is to serve G-d and to come close to Him. If I’m asking for wisdom, I should ask Him for wisdom so that I can serve Him. If I’m asking for health I should be asking for health so that I should be able to serve Him. Everything that I ask should be for one purpose. So that I can serve You and that I can be closet o You. Keeping this in mind when we pray will put all our prayers in the right perspective. And then no prayer will ever be returned empty handed for we have achieved the purpose of coming that much closer to G-d which is the real ultimate goal of prayer.
We end with the words: “For You hear the prayer of Your nation Israel with pity”. Which follows along the same idea that we spoke about before which is the single minded idea of prayer which is closeness to G-d. Here we say the words “This is the one prayer of Your nation Israel” We don’t say the many prayers of your nation Israel, we say it in the singular as if there is only one prayer. The entire nation of Israel has only one prayer. The turht is that there really is only one prayer. Every single supplication and request and yearning of the Jew is this one tefillah of coming close to You G-d. this is the underlying purpose of it all. Everything else that we ask for is just a means to attain that goal. And of course that is a merit. By asking G_d for whatever we want and for having in mind that “im only asking for this thing because its going to help me in my service to you. I’m asking for health sothat I should be able to live long and serve You. Not just because I want it for myself” That’s a tremendous merit so that we’re totallyfocused on the purpose of our prayers is to serve G-d.
David Hamelech says [and we’ve said this many times, its one of my favorite verses. Chapter 27 of Psalms] “There’s only one thing that I ask of You G-d” and then he says “That I sit in the house of G_d all the days of my life, that I should see the sweetness of G-d and I should be ablet o visitn in Your sanctuary.” And G-d says to David “Hey David! You said you were only asking for one thing! And now you’re giving me a whole list of things!” And David says back “G-d, You did the same thing I learnt this from You!” Hashem wrote in the Torah “What is it that G-d wants from you? Only to fear Him. And to love him, to cleave to Him, to follow in His commandments” We have a whole long list of things that G-d is asking for. So why does He make it sound like He only wants one thing from us? Just to fear Him? The truth is that in essence G-d only wants one thing from us: That we have fear of Heaven. But we need all the other things to achieve that. So too says David “All I want is one thing” And we all agree, all we want is one thing. We want to sit in the house of G-d all the days of our lives. Meaning we want to always be connected to G-d. But we need everything else that we ask for in order to achieve that goal. I need everything but its only for one purpose. And this should be our intention. That the purpose of all prayer and every prayer is meant to bring us closer to that goal.
We end off the blessing with “Blessed are you G-d who hears prayer” And this is our decleration of our belief that we are not just standing and talking to the wall. You know, if someone walks in and you’re standing and mouthing words and theres nobody there, you might look ab it strange. But the truth is that we believe that hahsem hears every word that we say. This is strategy #6 “Believe and trust in G-d that He truly hears you. And He loves every effort that you make in your prayer and this is so important in having our prayers answered.
Lets recap:May we be continuously inspired to pray with our hearts and may Hashem hear our inner voice as we pray with sincerity.
1. True Kavana
3. Confidence in our prayers, believe in our prayers that they work
4. Daven with tears, from the depths of our heart
5. Believe and trust that Hashem really hears us and really loves every one of our prayers
6. Always remember that the true goal of prayers is to come close to G-d and not necessarily to receive what we ask for because WE don’t always know what’s good for us. And may we always have true faith and trust that Hashem loves our prayers and hears every word.
May we all utilize this greatest gift or prayer to strive and achieve our potentials in our service to G-d.
Feb 3, 2009
Mrs. Raizy Guttman
Es Tzemach Dovid = The outgrowth of Moshiach. It is so appropriate that next week is going to be Tu b'Shvat, which is the birthday of the Trees [next Monday]. We are going to be talking about the tzemach - the plant of Dovid. The first words of this beautiful blessing are "May the outgrowth of Dovid, Your servant quickly sprout" The book Avodah Shebalev says that this tefillah [prayer] is talking about the actual arrival of the Messiah. [Jerimiah 33:15] "In those days and at that time, I will sprout for David a sprout of righteousness and I will bring rightousness and justice to the land" This blessing is based on this verse. The word tzemach which means a plant, in numerical value equals the word menachem. The gemarah explains that Menachem is one of the names of Moshiach and King David. As it says in [6:12, Zechariah] "Behold there is a man, and Tzemach is his name. From him will grow out the sanctuary of G-d." The coming of Moshiach will take place like a plant growing out from the earth. A plant is one of the most miraculous things in the world! We dont even realize what an absolute miracle every blade of grass, and tree is. Before a seed can grow it must be able to completely rot in the ground first. When there is nothing left except its blueprint, it will grow roots. The earth knows exactly what to produce from that rotted seeds. When it's done, it begins to grow upward which is totally against nature. Finally it comes up as a small bud and finally grows into a plant/tree etc. Moshiach similiarly is a slow process. When the destruction of the Temple took place was the begining of the process of the Moshiach. The rotting seed is a parable to all of our suffering. It was all for the eventual outgrowth of Moshaich. Its only through caring for this small "shoot" with sunlight [Torah] and water [tears and prayers] we will be able to bring Moshiach closer. It will be the combined tears and Torah learning that will finally merit the redemption. Some say "How can we, small people bring Moshiach??" The answer is that the great and righteous people of the past did their share in bringing the Moshiach. They brought Moshiach that much closer through their deeds. Now we have to build upon what they did. We hope that we can merit that small bud to pop out of the ground and Moshiach will finally arrive! The problem is that just like the Jewish people have been working to bring Moshiach, the exile has been working very hard for us NOT to bring the Moshiach! Psalms 106:35 - "We mingled with the gentiles and we learnt from their deeds". The first and worst lesson that we have adopted from the goyim is that we have learnt to hate each other. There is so much racial and ethnic hate in the world and we Jews have adopted this terrible traight. Instead of appreciating all the different types of Jews there are, we have learnt to hate each other. This is one of the main things that we have to work on. Rav Schwab says that we have also lost 2 of the distinguishing traights of the Jew. They are characterized by three things "Shyness, Merciful, Kind". These are known as Jewish traits. 2 out of the three have been lost in this exile. The character trait of shyness is gone. Since the entire world has lost morality and decency, we have been affected as well. Years ago a simple gentile understood what modesty was. Nowadays it is completely lost and we Jews also lost our embarrassment. Mercifulness= we Jews have observed so much cruelty around us that we have developed a certain sense of cruelty. This manifests itself in many ways. There are so many ways of killing a person. With a dirty look, with a not nice comment. The concept of an evil eye, looking at someone else and wanting what they have and not being happy for someone else. This is not a Jewish way and yet we unfortunately see that these ideas are prevelant among the Jewish people.
Rena Tarshish gave a shiur about Gaza. She said the fact that Jewish boys have to go out there and actively kill people, it’s not a Jewish trait! When Jacob went out to meet his brother Esav. It caused him pain. Rashi says that on the one hand he was pained because on the one hand maybe he would kill, or maybe because he would be killed. He was just as afraid at the thought of having to kill someone as the fear of being killed.
Violence is not a Jewish trait and yet she was saying that the fact that we are put in the position to go out and kill people shows that G-d is saying that we have this middah of cruelty in ourselves. The middah of killing people with words and our facial expressions is something that we have to work on so that we wont have to be involved in any sort of violence. This exile has affected us.
But Rav Shwab says that the trait of gomlei chassadim [trait of kindness] remains very clear in the Jewish nation, even throughout the entire galus. I always love that when you open up a telephone book in Israel you have lists and lists of families that just want to do everything for you with their gemach. Mouse traps, pacifiers, anything in the world you could possibly imagine, you look it up in the telephone book and you have these lists. Because Jews love to give. There is much kindness that goes on among the Jews. We have to bring Moshiach very quickly so we don’t lose this too!!
“May the shoots of Your servant David, may it sprout quickly” Although we just described the process of growth as very slow, we beg Hashem to speed it up. We have no idea what is going on with that seed under that ground. We don’t even know that there is a seed at all. All the hard work is taking place under the ground. All the toiling and the roots that are being set are something that we can’t see we can’t see how strong they are, we don’t know what’s going on. Yet suddenly out of the cold dark earth, in one second, pop! Something pops out. A tiny green plant pops out without any prior notice. The Prophet Malachi says [3:1] “I will send my messenger and he will clear the way before me. Suddenly he will come into the palace, the master whom you are speaking”. It says in the verse that the Moshiach will come suddenly! For 2,000 years we’ve been doing everything we can to bring Moshiach and suddenly out of nowhere he is going to pop up!
The Gemarah says that Moshiach is one of the things that come unexpectedly. That’s why it says “Quickly let it sprout”
But we have to continue with our preparation. Rav Simcha Hakohen Kook said: “man is compared to a tree. Because a tree grows upward completely against the laws of nature.” If you hold anything up and let go, what’s going to happen? It aint going to go up! It will automatically fall down, that’s called gravity and nature. That’s the way the world works. Things go from up to down. The only thing that goes from down to up are plants and people. They go against gravity and nature and grow upward. The message of the trees and the plants and the message of tu bishvat. The message is that man too is like that tree and we too must go against our nature. Not just physically but spiritually. This is the message of calling moshiach the Sprout of David, Your servant. Only by being the true servant of G-d did David merit that the moshaich should come through him. We can hurry up the sprouting of moshiach by going against our nature and doing those things that are difficult. Nullifying our will for G-ds. By constantly growing spiritually through Torah and prayer, this is how we can help the sprouting of Moshiach and go upwards in our ascent in our relationship with G-d.
“The horn of Moshiach should be raised up through Your salvation, G-d” Why the word horn? It’s a metaphor for power. When we say “May your horn be raised” we are really saying “May your power be raised up.” The power and strength of an animal is in a horn, that’s how an animal attacks his enemies. One idea is to attack the enemies with this horn. Another idea with a horn is that Keren also means a ray of light. Shemos [34:35] “The face of Moses radiated light”. This is the spiritual power of moshe that radiated from his house. This is the dual power of Moshiach: he will destroy the enemies just like the animal gores his enemies. Like it says in Isiah [11:4] “Moshiach will strike the world with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lip he will slay the wicked.” We see the tremendous power that Moshiach has. His strength is his mouth, the breath of his lips. Moshiach is not going to be some sort of superman and all of a sudden he’s going to pull out his machine gun and kill all the wicked people! He is going to be a great and righteous person. He’s going to use his mouth to pray to G-d to destroy the enemies, and G-d will. His other power to be able to inspire the entire Jewish nation and elevate them to state of being completely righteous. He will bring everyone back to Israel to live completely spiritual lives.
The horn symbolizes the dual power of the Moshiach, to destroy the wicked and spiritually elevate the righteous. Those who merit to be uplifted by raising themselves up now. iF we don’t do our share now, moshiach wont come and make us into tzadikim. Our life in this world is so that we can raise ourselves up and reach a level that moshiach can raise us up afterwards. We have to live as true servants of G-d.
As much as we pray for moshiach we have to remember that G-d is the true salvation. G-d will raise up moshiach.
“His horn [power] will be raised up with YOUR salvation” We ask for the salvation of G-d because that’s the only true salvation.
Navi Zechariyah [9:9] “A righteous man, he will be among those who are saved”. He’s going to be redeemed together with the rest of the people. This is why the next words are “For Your salvation, G-d, we hope for all day.” We are waiting for G-d Himself. “There is no other redeemer except You”
Rabbi Avigdor Miller says that these words are the reason we will merit the redemption, because we eagerly await the moshaich.
This gives us a tremendous insight on how to bring Moshiach: We have to truly wait and hope for him the whole day!! We are showing G-d that we have emunah in G-d and we are hoping for moshaich all the time.
One of thequestions a Jew is asked after 120 is “Did you anticipate the final redemption? By having real kavanah in these words, we will be able to answer yes! Rabbi Leff says that the words “Metzapim Leyeshua” [found in the Sefard version of the siddur]. “We are eagerly awaiting Your salvation”. Rabbi Leff says that these words were added because the people used to right this in their siddur in the margin. This is the mitzvah of waiting for Moshiach. When you say this blessing, realize that if you have intention when you say these words, you are getting a mitzvah! That is a question that we’ll be asked after 120 and if you say this with good intention, you’ll be able to answer G-d and say YES! I did anticipate the Moshiach!
The words “For Your salvation, We hope” It comes from the words of hope. What is the difference between trust and hope? Are we trusting that Hashem will bring Moshiach or are we hoping?
Trust in G-d means that one is calm and relaxed because he knows that G-d is taking care of him. It doesn’t mean that G-d will give him whatever he wants, but he knows that whatever G-d knows is good, He will do it.
Hope is knowing full well that he cant trust in his own good deeds, he hopes anyway that G-d will save him. In that merit, G-d will answer him. It’s a wish. I know that I’m not worthy, but I have hope anyway. In the merit of my hope should make me worthy. Our constant hoping an d praying is the merit that will ultimately bring moshiach. How do we make this a reality? By saying these tefillos with real kavanah. Number one we’re davening; properly, number two we cause ourselves to merit bringing the geula. Three we get a mitzvah of anticipating the moshiach. A second way of making this a reality If we’re divining that moshiach should come, how could we make this real? Rabbi Leff says to conjure up images in our mind of what the world would look like when moshiach comes. The Rambam speaks about it and says “In that time, there will be no famine, war, jealousy or competition. Good things will be plentiful and all the pleasures will be available like dust. The world will only be occupied with the increasing knowledge of G-d. Therefore the Jewish people will be great sages knowing all the hidden things and understanding the mind of their creator as much as possible. The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d.” The physical world will continue. There will be food, drink and physical pleasures. There wont be jealousy or competition. People will only be interested in spirituality and knowledge of G-d. There will be peace of love because there wont be jealousy. The good gentiles will also get their reward.
It will be like going on a Jerusalem GEM tour! Spend every day learning and drinking it in, and being in Jerusalem. A completely spiritual experience. The experience of the GEM will be a drop in the bucket when Moshiach comes!
Imagine being in a world where everything is focused on growing and learning! The world will be filled with knowledge of G-d. When you think about you just have to get excited! This is really how we can anticipate the Redemption
Yesterday I was in Bnei Brak with my family and my parents. We went for Shabbos and decided to walk over to Rebbitzen Kanievsky. They are the great leaders of our generation. She is the daughter of Rav Elyashiv. She in her own right is a great, special, warm loving person. We were able to go in and speak with her. We had an unbelievable and spiritual experience. She told us this story:Before Moshiachs arrival, ruach hakodesh will be given over to fools and children. Recently, her grandson woke up one morning and he was crying out of excitement. He jumped out of bed and he was so excited. He ran to his parents and told them he had a dream that he saw moshiachs arrival! He said “I saw the priests, the Jews coming to Jerusalem”! He said it was beautiful. He came to speak to his grandfather, and said to him “I also want to work in the holy Temple! I want to be part of it but I’m not a kohen!!” Rav Chaim looked at him and told him that “You are a first born and you too will work in the Holy Temple” And the child was crying out of joy that he would work there.
Rebbitzen Kanievsky looked at us and said “We better get ready! Moshiach is coming very very soon!!”
We know that the Torah does not calculate the exact time of Moshiach. We can bring him earlier. The details concerning moshaich are left out of the oral and written torah. We do have definite signs and such from the prophets. We have general ideas because we need to have a goal and purpose for life and we need to love and fear G-d. With this we can understand the idea of our rabbis that we should not calculate when Moshiach would come. If you count on Moshiach coming at a certain time and he doesn’t, it can be very discouraging. But we do see that sages made calculations. When the malbim was asked why he could do such a thing, he answered as follows:A man set out on a 6 month journey with his son. After an hour the kid asked how much longer it would take. The father slapped him and told him not to ask such questions. After 5 ½ months of the journey, and the father asked the driver “How much longer?” And the child looked at him and said Tatti! Why is it that when I asked this, I got a slap… but it was ok for you to ask it? The father said – when you asked, there were 6 months left to go. If I would have told you that you would have been very upset. But now theres only a short time left and the answer will be a source of eager anticipation. So too with Moshiach. Back then, if you would have calculated the time that it would take for moshiach to come, it would have brought a loss of hope. But now it’s a real source of encouragement.
When I heard this, I thought of my bubby. She went through the war and at the very end, the Germans knew it was just a matter of time. So they made a death march. They made everyone line up and march. For 5 months they marched right out of Poland into Czechoslovakia. She told me “If I would have known then that we would have marched for 5 months, I would have laid down on the floor and died right then and there.” The galus – the exile, its one long death march! But now the redemption is so close and it’s in sight. It must become a march of the living. Those of us who are merited to live in such a holy generation! We see the signs of Moshiachs arrival! We have to become a part of the march of the living, striving to bring Moshiach as quickly as possible We end with “Blessed are you G-d, who causes the horn of salvation to sprout” These three words, sprout, horn and salvation are the three ideas we speak about in this blessing. Sprout is the gradual process so that the power of the horn can be realized so that the salvation of G-d can be experienced in its totality. May we all merit to see and be part of this awesome experience, may it arrive in our time and our day!
You’ve got questions? She’s got answers!
Q: In the interlinear siddur it translates the word Keren differently. It translates it as pride, why is this different than the horn?
A: That’s interesting, when I prepared I used about 10 different books! Not one of them translated it as pride, but I do remember seeing that in the interlinear. I didn’t see that explanation anywhere. I will try to find out.
Q: Will all the people benefit from Moshiach or just the Jews? If so, do they have to do anything specific? Will this basically be a socialistic society regardless of their input?
A: These are very good questions. Yes, it wont just be for the Jews. The good gentiles will also get their reward. They just have to be good! They have 7 mitzvos. In order to be a good goy, they have to keep those laws and be good people. According to how much they have put into their own development, to that extent they will get rewarded. Because we have that many more commandments we will have that much more reward. Like it says that when moshiach comes, the whole world will be filled with knowledge of G-d! Yes, the whole world will be filled with knowledge. When you look at the ocean, it looks like its just one level, but in reality the ocean goes very deep. Every person, depending on how deep they immersed themselves during their lifetime and how much they invested, to that extent will their knowledge of G-d be supplemented by moshiach to reach G-d. And every person will be judged according to their own circumstances. You might look at someone and say “Wow, that person is such a tzadik!” And someone else is just OK. But we don’t know what the truth is. Who knows how far someone came.
Q: along that line then, there wont be any more jealousy. If people will have different leveles of understanding G-d, wouldn’t that lead to more jealousy? And why would non-Jews convert to Judaism? And what would happen to people who don’t merit anything?
A: The greatest merit a non-Jew can receive is nothing compared to what a Jew can achieve! Like we said, what you invest is what you get. The repercussions are that much greater as well.
[Necha Golda]: Wouldn’t it be comparable to senior managers who have more responsibility so they have higher wages than lets say, a mailroom clerk?Q: But there you do have jealousy in the work world!
A: There is something called “kina’as sofrim” Every characteristic in the world has a positive and negative side to it. There are some character traits to stay far away from like arrogance. But even in arrogance there is something good. For instance, Jewish Pride! That comes from the umbrella characteristic called arrogance. There is a positive side to Jealousy also. Kinas sofrim is when a person envies a persons spiritual level and you desire to be greater because someone else has a higher level of spirituality. And we really grow from that. When Moshaich comes, since the driving force will be spirituality, the only type of jealousy will be this sort of jealousy.
Q: So when are we at that high level, will we be able to continue to grow? And what about the people who don’t merit it?
A: The wicked people who had opportunities and threw them away, they will not merit the redemption. They’re at a loss. And the rest of us will continue to grow spiritually. That will be a job of moshiach according to the level of wanting. The most important aspect of a person is to develop his desires.
Q: Can Moshiach be a woman?
A: As far as I know, No. Not because a woman is not spiritual enough because women are more spiritual than men. It seems like women are taking the back seats [and backseat drivers are the ones who get you places J]. A man is like a tree. He is out there standing tall. Everyone looks at the tree. But the tree is only there because of the roots. The roots are under the ground and however strong the roots are that’s how much the tree will blossom and flourish. The woman is the root of it all. Because she is so holy and spiritual, she must remain modest. When you have something very precious you don’t just leave it out. It could get defiled. A sefer Torah for instance is one of the most holy objects. Its rolled up, closed, with a cloak and a crown, in the Ark, with closed doors and curtains. There are so many coverings because that sefer torah is very holy and precious. If you have 10,000 dollar diamond you would lock it up in the safe. There are special times when the sefer torah is taken out… So too the woman is the source of energy and strength for her husband. Because she is so holy she must remain hidden otherwise she loses her special power. It comes from her hidden ness. Therefore a woman cant be moshiach. She is probably bringing moshiach! “In the merit of righteous women our forefathers were redeemed from mitzrayim, and in the merit of the righteous women we will also be redeemed!” We have tremendous merit and much of it is in the merit of our hidden ness and modesty.
Q: Does that mean Moshiach will be married?
A: Yes, because a man without a woman is incomplete.