After expressing ten different definitions of G-d’s name, the prayer continues with a blessing. This blessing begins like so many others:“ברוך אתה…. King of the universe.” and then states “הקל האב הרחמן- The Almighty, the merciful father”.
The first interesting thing to take note of here is that the tefilla does not refer to Hashem as A merciful father, rather as THE merciful father. We are accustomed to referring to G-d as the King of kings. This line of liturgy comes to point out that G-d is also the Father of all fathers. Without Hashem there would be no other father demonstrating fatherly love to his children in the entire world.
The Hebrew words read, “הקל האב הרחמן” which translate literally as the powerful Father-the merciful. These words provide us with the definition of a father and fatherhood generally. A father (or parent) is a figure that prescribes and presents dosages of might and mercy in order that his children should grow and develop productively and positively. This is how G-d deals with us, and this is how we are instructed to deal with our children.
Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l points out that the word אב- Father is similar to several other words in the Hebrew language as well. The word for ‘love’ is אהב. The word for ‘give’ is יהב. The word for ‘consent’ is אבה. These are some of the key ingredients that are present in a fine father. A father needs to be loving and giving; but he also needs to set limits and provide structure for his children teaching when to deny their requests and when to give consent.
Take Home Tip: Recognizing G-d’s fatherly love for us is facilitated by the loving and trusting relationship we enjoy with our own physical fathers. We have much to learn about parenting from G-d Himself. Like G-d is to us, we are to our children; THE Father in their lives.
Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ
Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement
Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Manager
Adina Schwarzbaum, Administrative Assistant