Vort from the Rav: Vayikra

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The Vort from the Rav feature restarts, courtesy of Dr. Arnold Lustiger, adapted from his newly published Vayikra volume of Chumash Mesoras HaRav

וְנִרְצָה לוֹ- and it will be accepted for him.

In our weekday Shemoneh Esrei prayer, we end the petitionary section starting with the words שְׁמַע קוֹלֵֽנוּ: Listen to our voice, Lord our God…and in compassion and favor accept our prayer, for You, God, listen to prayer and pleas. Immediately following this blessing we recite the paragraph which starts with the word רְצֵה: Find favor, Lord our God, in Your people Israel and their prayer…and accept in love and favor the fire offerings of Israel and their prayer. It would seem that the theme of this latter blessing is identical to the earlier one and is superfluous. Why did the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah see fit to apparently repeat the same request in sequence?

The theme of the שְׁמַע קוֹלֵֽנוּ prayer is that God should accept our prayer. The theme of רְצֵה is that our prayer should be considered as a sacrifice. The word רְצֵה evokes the phrase וְנִרְצָה לוֹ in the context of sacrifice. Through this statement, and indeed through this entire benediction, something wondrous takes place: our prayer, which until this point has been in the form of a conversation, is now transformed into a sacrifice. The term עבוֹדָה שֶׁבְּלֵב, the service of the heart inherent to prayer, is an act of self-sacrifice. (Shiurim Lezecher Abba Mori, Volume 2, p. 216; Worship of the Heart, p. 178)

The blessing of the kohanim is connected to the benediction of רְצֵה since that blessing was made after the completion of the communal sacrifices in the Temple. Without this blessing, the Temple service was incomplete. The Torah states: And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them. He then descended from preparing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering (Lev. 9:22). The kohanim therefore walk to the platform during the blessing of רְצֵה, for it is this blessing that transforms the repetition of the Amidah into a communal sacrifice. (Shiurim Lezecher Abba Mori, Vol. 2, p. 214; Mesorah, Vol. 5, p. 5)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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