Blessings in Order
"Avi, I would like to share with you the words of our Sages in the Gemora Megilla (17b and 18a). They explain the order of the nineteen blessings of the weekday Amidah. This can aid you very much in your understanding and kavannah (intention) when praying."
"Sounds exciting, Abba."
"It is Avi. Let us begin. One hundred and twenty Elders, among them several Neviim (prophets) fixed the eighteen blessings in order. The first three blessings are based upon two verses in Tehillim (29:1-2). 'Give to Hashem you sons of the powerful.' 'The powerful' refers to our Avos HaKedoshim (Holy Forefathers), hence the first bracha, 'Avos.' 'Give to Hashem honor and might.' The bracha of 'Gevuros' proclaims Hashem's honor and might. 'Give to Hashem the honor due His Name, bow to Hashem in the beauty of holiness.' The third bracha elucidates Hashem's holiness."
"That completes the first section, Abba."
"Indeed it does, Avi. Now we come to the middle section where we put forth our requests to the Almighty. The first request is for 'daas' (understanding). The Elders fixed this blessing after 'Kedusha' based on two verses in Yishaya (29:23-24). 'They will sanctify the Holy One of Yaakov (Kedusha) … Those of misguided spirit will attain understanding (daas).' The next appeal is for siyata di'shmaya (heavenly assistance) to do teshuva (repentance). Its placement after 'daas' is based upon a verse in Yishaya (6:10), 'Understand with your heart, repent, and be healed.' After teshuva comes selicha (forgiveness), as stated in the verse, 'Let him return to Hashem and He will show him mercy; to our G-d, for He is abundantly forgiving' (Yishaya 55:7). After forgiveness, we then have the privilege of asking for 'geula' (redemption) and 'refuah' (health) based on the verse, 'Who forgives all your sins; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit' (Tehillim 103:3-4)."
"But Abba, 'refuah' precedes 'geula' in the verse."
"Excellent observation, Avi. 'Geula' is the seventh blessing because Klal Yisrael will be redeemed in the seventh year (of the Shmitta cycle). The final war will be in the seventh year, and Ben Dovid will come in the eight year. Our Sages did not want to make 'geula' the eighth blessing because it was needed for 'refuah'."
"Why is that, Abba?"
"The bris milah is on the eighth day of the infant's life. He needs a big refuah from the milah; therefore, the eighth blessing was designated for refuah. The ninth blessing is a request for an abundance of grain crop, in order to foil the plans of those who sought to inflate the price of grain. This is expressed in the verse, 'Break the power of the wicked' (Tehillim 10:15). When Dovid HaMelech said this verse, it was in the ninth chapter of Tehillim, therefore it is the ninth bracha.ii See Rashi on Gemora Megilla 17b The ingathering of the exiles follows the blessing for crops, based on the verse, 'But you, O mountains of Israel, will give forth your branch and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for they are soon to come' (Yechezkel 36:8)."
"We are all waiting for that day, Abba."
"We certainly are, Avi. We will experience more wonders at that time. The evil people will be judged, as stated in the Novi Yishaya (1:25-26), 'I will turn My hand against you; until I refine your impurities as with lye … Then I will restore your judges as at first.' This is expressed in the bracha of 'din' (restoration of judgment). Following that will come the annihilation of the wicked [as described in the bracha of the 'minim' (heretics)] based upon the verse, 'Rebels and sinners will be destroyed together' (Yishaya 1:28). Of course, once all evil is wiped out, then the righteousness of the tsaddikim will be elevated for all to see. This is the theme of the bracha of 'tsaddikim' as hinted to in the verse, 'And I shall cut down all the pride of the wicked; the pride of the righteous shall be exalted!' (Tehillim 75:11)."
"Then Yerushalayim will be rebuilt and Moshiach will come!"
"Precisely! The gemora asks, 'Where will they (the tsaddikim) be exalted? In Yerushalayim, as the verse states, "Pray for the peace of Yerushalayim; those who love you will be serene" (Tehillim 122:6). Since Yerushalayim will be built, then Moshiach Ben Dovid can come. "Afterward the Children of Israel will return and seek out Hashem their G-d and Dovid their king" (Hoshea 3:5).' These are the brochos of the building of Yerushalayim and the reign of the house of Dovid. Once Dovid's descendant is here, the place of tefillah will be rebuilt, as stated in the verse, 'I will bring them to My holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer' (Yishaya 56:7). In this bracha, we request that our prayers be accepted. Rashiiii Divrei HaYomim 2, 6:19 relates that the original Beis HaMikdash was built by Shlomo HaMelech to provide a place for the Shechina (Divine Presence) to rest upon the earth. It would be a place of prayer for the Jewish people, where their tefillos would be accepted by the Shechina. Avi, I must tell you that the holy and profound words of these brochos, as fixed by our Elders, can express all of our requests for all of our needs. If you wish to add private requests, you may do so within the appropriate bracha. However, in this final bracha of request, 'shema koleinu,' you may ask for anything that you need.iiii Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 119:1)"
"What a tremendous opportunity, Abba!"
"Yes it is, Avi. May we all take advantage of it. Now the Gemora finishes up with the final three brochos, 'avodah', 'hodah', and 'shalom.' 'Avodah' (serving Hashem with korbonos) is mentioned in the second half of the verse of tefillah, 'Their olos and zevachim will find favor on My mizbeach.' (Yishaya 56:7). After one sacrifices a korbon, he gives thanks to Hashem, hence the bracha of 'todah' (gratitude) after 'avodah'. This is expressed in the verse, 'One who sacrifices a todah (thanksgiving offering) honors Me' (Tehillim 50:23). At this point in the repetition of the Amida, the Kohanim bless the congregation. 'Why does the final bracha of peace follow the bircas Kohanim?' asks the Gemora. The blessing of peace is implied in the verse that follows the bircas Kohanim in the Torah. 'Let them place My Name upon the Children of Israel and I shall bless them' (Bamidbar 6:27). Hashem's blessing is peace, as the verse states, 'Hashem will bless His nation with peace' (Tehillim 29:11)."
"Wow Abba, what an accomplishment, to set an order to all of these blessings! I have gained a new appreciation of the wisdom of our Elders who fixed these brochos. What an improvement this will make in my kavannah! I hope that Hashem will accept all of my prayers and answer all of my requests."
Kinderlach . . .
There is a sublime wisdom to every aspect of tefillah, including the order of the blessings. The Elders fixed the order based upon verses in the Tanach. They guide us through the three sections of the Amidah - praises, requests, and gratitude.iiv Sifrei (Bracha 343), Yerushalmi Brachos 2:4 as cited in Siddur Shaar HaRachamim One who studies and understands the purpose and order of these nineteen brochos will add kavannah, meaningfulness, effectiveness, and satisfaction to his tefillah. What a motivation to learn the tefillos, kinderlach! Put in the effort to make every tefillah special. May Hashem accept them all 'bi'ahavah u'bi'ratzon' (with love and favor).
Kinder Torah Copyright 2011 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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