The Blessings of the Shema (Part 14)
"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched
– they must be felt with the heart."
The third blessing continues: “He frees the captives, liberates the humble, helps the needy, and answers His nation, Israel, when they cry out to Him. Praises to the Supreme
Structured prayer has been an integral dimension of Jewish life since the times of our forefathers. Our Sages teach (Brachot 26b) that the morning prayer service was instituted by Avraham, the afternoon service was initiated by Yitzchak, and Yaakov established the evening services. Every Jew’s “spiritual DNA” was inherited from our forefathers, and when we pray, we have an unparalleled moment to take advantage of an extraordinary potential for connection to
The nineteenth century Eastern European prodigy, Rabbi Chanoch Zundel ben Yosef, was a prolific author. Among many other works, his commentaries on the Midrash Rabbah and the Ein Yaakov are seen as essential to understanding the esoteric lessons contained in our classic texts. He also authored an insightful and thought-provoking commentary on the prayers that is printed in the classic Siddur titled Otzar Hatefillot. In his commentary on our blessing, he points out that the four different descriptions which appear in our blessing correspond to the four expressions in the Torah describing the stages of the redemption from Egypt (Shemot 6:6-7). They also correspond to the four cups of wine we drink at the Seder on Pesach night.
- “He frees captives” corresponds to “Vehotzeiti – And I shall take you out.”
- “Liberates the humble” corresponds to “Vegalti – And I shall redeem.”
- “Helps the needy” corresponds to “Vehitzalti – And I shall save.”
- “And answers His nation, Israel” corresponds to “Velakachti – And I shall take you.”
As we come within reach of the Amidah, a new facet of G‑d is being introduced into our prayer: Hashem is the “Supreme
In Tehillim (105:3) King David declares, “Be glad of heart, you who seek (mevakesh)
Truly a tantalizing concept!
To be continued…