Audio Roundup Special: Rav Ezra Bick on Tefillah

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by Joel Rich


        When the gemara describes the order of the daily brachot it starts with hamapil at night, and yet it seems focused on light (and death)?  The messages are about the proper avodat hashem of both night (sleep preparing for next day) and day.


        Birchat asher yatzar was an amalgam of texts from various amoraim.  It reflects that not only does HKB”H protect us from illness and heal us when needed, but he’s continually involved in our life process.


        Elokai neshama reflects that life is all about continued growth, thus death is the ultimate tuma.


        Birchot hashachar takes recurring events you’d normally ignore and elevates them.  The final bracha is one of renewal to continue our daily mission.


        Mkadeish shimcha bseter?  Even though this world is hevel, we have a mission of adding kedusha to it.  Bseter may reflect shaat hashmad or kdushat hashem byachid.


        Birchot hatorah – are they on the cheftza of torah or the process?  We maintain a latent awareness of torah throughout the day!  Public kriat hatorah is a separate mchayev for the nation and thus gets its own bracha.


        Each tfila has an element of karbanot (kneged karbanot tiknum) but we also “say karbanot” in shacharit.  Karbanot represent the connection of heaven (spiritual) and earth (physical).


        Psukei dzimra are really preparation for tfila as we seek to change ourselves into worthy participants in prayer.


        Barchu leading into kriat shma is a davar shbikidusha requiring a minyan – Am yisrael is being mkadeish sheim shamayim (through words at this point) to show we are a tzibbur.


        Hamichadeish bchol yom reflects our ongoing relationship with HKB”H.

        Shirah is a response to the moment, angels have a different view than humans.  Or Chadash reflects our desire to see HKB”H in our daily lives leading up to our professing Shma Yisrael.


        The final bracha before kriat shma reflects the two way loving relationship between the Jewish people and HKB”H (and learning his Torah).  This leads into the pure statement of bitachon=shma yisrael).


        Gaal yisrael reflects our redemption from Paro’s slavery into HKBH’s service as our melech.  The met theme reflects our true reality of the promise of complete redemption even if we are not experiencing it in this world at this moment.


        Standing (amidah) for shmoneh esrai reflects our service to HKB”H.  Once we take three steps back we go to nfilat apaim to show we’ve tried everything and throw ourselves into complete submission.


        Kiddusha dsidra is everyone (not just talmidei chachamim) engaging in talmud torah when we’ve finished tfila but are still connected.  Aleinu is taking permission (matir) to leave into the cold outside world.

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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