Shabbos Parashas Tazria-Metzora – The Dubno Maggid on Prayer, Part 5

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaTefillah, Chapter 3 (continued)
Indeed, there nothing that more readily speeds a grant of Divine benevolence than recognition of and thanks for a blessing Hashem has previously extended. Our Sages therefore strongly condemn people who are inattentive and lax about reciting berachos and prayers. Thus, the Gemara in Berachos 35a states: “The Rabbis taught, ‘It is forbidden for a person to partake of this world without a berachah, and doing so is tantamount to embezzling sanctified goods.’ R. Levi cast two verses against each other. In one verse it is written (Tehillim 24:1): ‘The world is Hashem’s and all it contains.’ In another verse it is written (Tehillim 115:16): ‘And the earth He gave to man.’ It is not a difficulty. The first verse describes the state of affairs before the recitation of a berachah, while the second verse describes the state of affairs after the recitation of a berachah.’” Shortly thereafter, the Gemara says further (Berachos 35b): “Said R. Chanina bar Pappa, ‘When a person partakes of this world without reciting a berachah, it is as if he is stealing from Hashem and Knesses Yisrael (and he is a compatriot of Yeravam ben Nevat, who sinned and caused Yisrael to sin), as it is written (Mishlei 28:24): “One who steals from his father and mother and says there is no offense, he is a compatriot of the man who brings ruin.”’”
Our Sages use such extreme terms for a deep reason. Kabbalah teaches that when a man here on the earth below recites a berachah, the berachah ascends to the upper worlds, travels to the place appropriate to it, and generates a flow of blessing to the entire class of goods covered by that berachah. Accordingly, a person who eats without reciting a berachah causes a great loss. Now, do not be astonished that a mortal man can step in after the King of the Universe and utter words that produce effects up above. The kabbalah masters explain that each person’s soul is connected to the upper worlds, so that any stirring a person produces here on earth causes a corresponding stirring in the upper worlds.
In Shir HaShirim 1:3, Shlomo HaMelech describes the Jewish People saying to Hashem: “Your Name is like oil poured forth.” Here, Hashem’s Name is likened to a flask of balsam oil, which, while full of a pleasant fragrance with the potential to provide enjoyment, can actually provide the enjoyment only when it is moved about so that the fragrance can propagate through the air [cf. Bereishis Rabbah 39:2, where a similar idea is used in connection with Avraham Avinu, building on the same verse]. Thus it is with Hashem’s exalted Name: It is the source of blessing – like a stream flowing with blessing – which can carry the blessing forth into our world only when man acts upon it to produce the flow. When someone on the earth below invokes Hashem’s Name, he generates a movement in the upper worlds that causes the stored blessing to flow down to earth. All the blessing that comes into this world is brought here through the acts of man. Hashem has, so to speak, placed all His abundant assets in man’s hands. By praying to Hashem, blessing Hashem, and thanking Hashem appropriately, man can generate all the sustenance he needs.
Accordingly, when a person omits a prayer or berachah that should have been recited, or partakes of this world without reciting the appropriate berachah, he causes a decrease in the flow of blessing into the world. It is in this sense that our Sages say that such a person is like one who steals from Hashem and Knesses Yisrael. We can bring out the point through an analogy. Suppose a poor person buys food on credit. When he pays his debt, this act produces two positive effects. First, he makes the food rightfully his, foreclosing the possibility that it could be considered stolen. Second, he establishes himself as a trustworthy person, so that the lender will be willing to lend to him again. Conversely, if he does not pay, his failure to do so produces two negative effects: The food now becomes stolen property, and the lender will not lend to him again. Moreover, the lender may well refuse to lend to others also, out of fear that they, too, will cheat him. Thus it is with someone who partakes of this world without reciting the proper berachah. He has stolen from Hashem, for “the world is Hashem’s and all it contains,” and he has not “paid” Hashem for what he has taken. In addition, he has stolen from Knessess Yisrael, for his misdeed makes Hashem less forthcoming in provding blessing to others. As Shlomo HaMelech puts it (Koheles 9:18): “A single sinner can cause a great loss of blessing.”
L’ilui nishmas Shaindel bas Moshe Yechiel, Rebbetzin Shaindel Bulman, who passed away this week
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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