Shabbos Parashas Bamidbar – The Maggid on Prayer, Part 9

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaTefillah, Chapter 5 (end)
The Gemara says (Berachos 63a): “How do we know that we do not respond ‘Amein’ in the Beis HaMikdash? Because it is written (Nechemiah 9:5): ‘Rise up, bless Hashem your God, from one world to the other.’ And it is written further (ibid.): ‘Let them bless Your glorious Name, which is exalted above every blessing and praise.’” Let us explain this teaching and tie it in with what we explained about how Hashem operates through two different modes. Elsewhere the Gemara says (Shabbos 119b): “What is the meaning of ‘Amein’? Said R. Chanina, ‘E-l Melech Ne’eman (God, the trustworthy King).’” This is an apt title to give Hashem, for He constantly treats us with genuine mercy, even when we perceive His actions as wrathful.
When the Beis HaMikdash is in ruins, our blessings are diluted with apparent curses. Thus it is written (Chaggai 1:4-9): Is this the time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house is in ruins? Now, thus says Hashem, Master of Legions: ‘Consider your ways. You have sown much but bring in little, you eat without being satisfied, you drink without your thirst being quenched, you clothe yourselves but no one is warmed, and whoever earns money earns it for a purse with a hole.’ … ‘You look for much, and, behold, it comes to little, and when you bring it home, I blow upon it [with scorching winds]. Why is this?’ says the Master of Legions. ‘Because of My house which is in ruins, while you run, each man to his own house.’” But the blessings that flow forth from the Beis HaMikdash are complete, without the slightest trace of bad.
This fact is reflected in the exhortation: “Rise up, bless Hashem your God, from one world to the other.” This exhortation alludes to the principle stated in the Zohar (Bereishis 158b) that there are two worlds, one hidden and one openly observable. In the Beis HaMikdash, Hashem’s supervision of the world was openly observable. Every day, as the Mishnah teaches (Avos 5:5), ten miracles occurred in the Beis HaMikdash. Hence we did not need to respond “Amein” in the Beis HaMikdash, for we knew that the blessings generated there would surely be pure blessings, complete in every respect. But outside the Beis HaMikdash we must respond “Amein” to express the fact that Hashem is a faithful King, while pleading to Him to grant us now a blessing that is all blessing, with no admixture of curse. We pray for the fulfillment of Shlomo HaMelech’s words (Mishlei 10:22): “Hashem’s blessing brings wealth, without sorrow coming along with it.”
At present Hashem conveys His kindness to us as a mixture of blessings and curses. Our Sages therefore obligated us to recite a berachah over bad tidings as well as over good (Mishnah Berachos 9:2). The two berachos differ: in the berachah over good tidings we call Hashem “the benevolent one, who grants good,” whereas over bad tidings we call Him “the true judge.” In actuality, everything Hashem sends us, the good and the bad, is an act of love and kindness. Although we experience the good and the bad differently, finding the good sweet and the bad bitter, in both cases Hashem’s intent is the same: to benefit us. Accordingly, although outwardly we react differently toward the good and bad – we recite different berachos over them, reflecting the difference in how we experience them – the inner attitude we hold toward them in our hearts, which Hashem alone perceives, should be the same: we should accept them cheerfully, recognizing them as Divine acts of kindness. Perhaps this is the idea behind David HaMelech’s declaration: (Tehillim 101:10): “Of kindness and justice I sing; to You, Hashem, I sing praise.” We can say that the terms “kindness” and “justice” here refer to the very same act. David is saying: “When you impose a sentence on me, which You dispense as an act of kindness and I experience as an act of justice, I sing praise to You – I praise You for Your kindness and for the benevolent intent behind what You are sending me: to make me straight and upright, so that in the end You can grant me blessing.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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