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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Vayakhel-Pikudei


"Abba, I have a question regarding Bircas HaMazone."

"Go ahead, Avi."

"Today I was so busy studying for a test that I cannot remember if I said Bircas HaMazone after lunch. What should I do?"

"Were there tears on the table?"

Avi is a bit startled by this question.

"No, Abba. Why should there be tears on the table?"

"Many of our fellow Jews acutely feel the tsar (pain) of golus (exile). When they reach the third blessing of Bircas HaMazone, asking Hashem to have rachmonus (mercy) on Klal Yisrael, Yerushalayim, Zion, Malchus Beis Dovid, and the Beis HaMikdash, their hearts are so broken with the tragedy of it all that they cannot control their emotions. They break down and cry."

"What a high level of sensitivity and compassion! I am so impressed! How can I reach such a madrayga (spiritual level), Abba?"

"Let us begin by learning the peirush (explanation) of the third bracha, which was authored by Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech.ii Gemora Brochos 48b It has three parts; firstly, a request for rachmonus (mercy) on Klal Yisrael, Yerushalayim, Zion, the Monarchy of Dovid, and the Beis HaMikdash; secondly, an appeal for parnassa (livelihood) and freedom from economic subjugation; and finally, a plea to rebuild Yerushalayim bimhayra biyomeinu (speedily in our days)! The sefer Yesod Vi'shoresh Ho'avodahiii Shaar 7, Chapter 9 makes an impassioned appeal to awaken our emotions for this blessing. 'Behold, my brothers and companions … a person surely does not fulfill his obligation from the Torah (for Bircas HaMazone) if his mouth pronounces the words without his heart feeing the pain that is expressed in them. Before each phrase, one should pause to internalize the tsar that he is about to verbalize. For example, when one says, "Have mercy … on all of Yisrael Your nation," he should feel great anguish for all the members of Klal Yisrael who are in bitter exile. This golus is a great Chilul Hashem (desecration of the Holy Name) amongst the nations. "And upon Yerushalayim Your city, and on Mount Zion, the dwelling place of Your Glory…" One should feel great distress in his heart, for these holy places are in ruins! "And on the monarchy of the House of Dovid, Your anointed..." Oy, oy oy, the pain! How long must we suffer under cruel, evil governments, who worship false idols, while our true leadership, the monarchy of the House of Dovid, is in exile? Oy, oy oy oy oy! "For this great and holy House upon which Your Name is called..." Until when must our glorious Beis HaMikdash remain desolate? When will it be rebuilt? We long to bring korbonos (sacrifices) which will give Hashem such nachas ruach! Fortunate is the one who can cry a sea of tears for these tragedies.'"

"Hashem values a broken heart."

"Yes, Avi. As we ask for mercy for the Nation, we also ask for sustenance.iiii Matte Yehuda cited by Iyun Tefillah Firstly, we address Hashem as 'Elokeinu' - the One Who personally supervises our lives, 'Avinu' - our Father, Who has parental mercy. 'Tend to us' - provide the necessities (bread and water, which is the way of Torah).iiv Etz Yosef 'Nourish us' with extra foods such as fruits. 'Maintain us' with other needs such as clothing. 'And sustain us' - with nachas (pleasantly) and not tsar (anguish), with kovod (dignity) and not bizayon (disgrace). Give us a steady income - not too much to handle or too little to suffice. 'Relieve us' - give us the ample means to live comfortably.vv Olas Tomid 'Grant us relief, Hashem our G-d speedily from all our troubles,' as the verse states, 'Relief and deliverance will come to the Jews.'vvi Esther 4:14 Relieve all of the tsorus - physical, emotional, communal, and individual.4 'May we not be dependent, Hashem our G-d, on gifts from flesh and blood nor their loans, just Your Hand, full, open, holy and generous. We should not be embarrassed or shamed forever.' The gifts of men are few and there is much disgrace in receiving them. The versevvii Mishlei 15:27 warns us, 'One who hates gifts will live.'vviii Abudarham Loans are embarrassing. Contrast this with Your Hand, which is always full (like a flowing well), always open, and holy."iix Avodas HaTefillah

"We are so fortunate to be recipients of Hashem's kindness."

"Indeed we are, Avi. The blessing mentions five different descriptions of Hashem's Hand. They describe five advantages of receiving from Him, as opposed to the flesh and blood hands of men. The Almighty's Hand is 'full'. What He gives does not diminish from His boundless resources. Contrast this with the limited hand of flesh and blood that loses when it gives. The Merciful One's Hand is always 'open', unlike the benefactor's hand, which is sometimes open and sometimes closed. The Holy One's Hand is 'holy', giving purely from chessed (kindness) and rachamim (mercy). The human hand gives for ulterior motives. The Creator's Hand gives to everyone 'generously', unlike people, who give less to some and more to others. To receive from Him is 'not embarrassing', unlike the gifts of mortals, which often are shameful."

"Hashem gives perfect gifts, Abba!"

"May we always merit receiving them. This brings us to the end of the bracha, which returns to the original theme of rebuilding the Holy City. Say it with great enthusiasm, Avi! 'Rebuild Yerushalayim, the Holy City speedily in our days. Blessed are You, Hashem, Builder of Yerushalayim in His Mercy, Amen!'"

Kinderlach . . .

How we long for the end of this golus! How we wait for the return to Yerushalayim! How we anticipate the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash! How we look forward to monarchy of the House of Dovid! We can express all of these emotions in the third blessing of Bircas HaMazone. Additionally, we beseech the Merciful One to provide for our needs honorably, generously, and comfortably. May we never need gifts from people, and only receive from His Holy Hand. May He rebuild Yerushalayim speedily in our days, Amen!

i Gemora Brochos 48b
ii Shaar 7, Chapter 9
iii Matte Yehuda cited by Iyun Tefillah
iv Etz Yosef
v Olas Tomid
vi Esther 4:14
vii Mishlei 15:27
viii Abudarham
ix Avodas HaTefillah

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