Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 4 July 2015 / 17 Tammuz 5775

Shemoneh Esrei: The Fifteenth Blessing

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“The offspring (tsemach) of Your servant David, may You speedily cause to sprout forth….”

Esther, my six-year old daughter wanted to show me her flower that she brought home from school. I thought she had drawn another picture of flowers as she often did. To my surprise, she approached me with a flower pot in her hand, with the beginnings of a plant sprouting through the bottom. She had precise written instructions on how to take care of her flower. So, together as a family we made sure each night to water the plant that we placed in a good spot in the window for sunlight. All was going great for a while; the plant grew so big that we could hardly believe it, until one day it died. We were all a little sad.

When speaking of the return of the “Davidic Monarchy” the term we use is “tsemach”, the same word that refers to the sprouting of a plant. Based on a verse from Zechariah: Say to him, “Thus said G-d, Master of Legions: ‘Behold, there is a man, his name is Tsemach, and he will flourish in his place; he will build the Temple of G-d,’” our Sages explain that the name of Mashiach, a direct descendant of David, will be Tsemach.

There are numerous lessons we can learn from the above points. From the comparison of the restoration of Malchut Beit David — the kingdom of the House of David — to a sprouting plant, we learn that just as a plant begins to grow under the surface of the ground, hidden from the human eye, so too the “throne” of David is rebuilt each day in this time of darkness and exile. Although we fail to see the spiritual progress we are making through our fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot, we nonetheless draw closer each day to our long-awaited redemption. The later stage of a plant’s growth after it has surfaced illustrates this point as well, since a plant grows so slowly that the process of growth is not visible to the human eye.

The story above also shows us a very important lesson. Man is needed to work and care for the land. Without our work we would not benefit from the land at all. It is also Man’s spiritual work that causes the growth the Davidic Throne. We provide the water and sunlight, so to speak, with our Torah and mitzvot, through which the throne of David is rebuilt. We are slowly but surely getting closer to the end of days, when we will all merit seeing G-d’s return to Jerusalem, and the kingdom and throne of David restored.

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