Tefillah

Footstool to Heaven

June 13, 2013

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Footstool to Heaven

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Psalm 99 is the last of the consecutive Psalms recited during the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat Ashkenazic Service. King David again foretells of the thundering revelation of G-d’s presence on earth amidst awe and trembling, and invites the people of Israel to Praise the G-d of Zion.

There is a fascinating imagery presented in verse five of the Psalm. “Romemu Hashem Elokaynu Vehishtachavu LaHadom Raglav Kadosh Hu – Praise Hashem our G-d and bow down towards His FOOTSTOOL that is holy”. What exactly is G-d’s footstool? Additionally at the conclusion of the Psalm it states, “Romemu Hashem… Vehishtachavu LeHar Kadsho… – Praise G-d bow toward The Holy Mountain.  What happened to the footstool?

The commentators remark that G-d’s footstool is a metaphor for the Beit Hamikdash – The Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The question is why is G-d’s Temple referred to as a FOOTSTOOL?

The Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush, 1809-1879), explains that that when we see an occupied footstool, we understand that on top of the foot resting on the footstool exists a person with legs, a body, arms, a head…….. So too, the Beit Hamikdash – Holy Temple—is referred to as G-d’s FOOTSTOOL because it is a bridge unto the omnipotent presence of G-d in the heavens above. Just as a footrest provides only a glimpse of the being that rests on it, so too we know that the Shechinah – G-d’s presence in the Temple—is just a miniscule taste of the eternal presence of Hashem.

The latter verse deletes a reference to the footstool, indicating that in the times of Moshiach we will no longer be limited to the “Footstool Experience” of Hashem. We will engage with Hashem without limitations and barriers. G-d’s presence will no longer reside in heaven; rather G-d will reveal Himself on earth as well.

Take Home Tip: It is possible to go to shul and pray all morning in order to serve G-d and completely lose sight of what the goal was. Remember – our shul is like the Beit Hamikdash that was the Footstool of G-d.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey for Tefillah Tips

Orthodox Union Department of Community Services Frank Buchweitz, National Director Hannah Farkas, Program Manager Adina Tabak, Administrative Assistant

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