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Bracha #19 – Shalom (Peace)
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The last statement in the last mishnah in the last tractate in Shas (Uktzin 3:12) tells us that the only vessel God could use to contain all His blessings for Israel is peace. The author of this statement, Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta, bases this idea on Psalms 29:11, “God will bless His nation with peace.” […]
Bracha #18 – Hoda’ah (Thanks)
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We thank God for all He has done and continues to do for us, as He has always done. He is the immovable Rock upon Whom we can always rely and the impenetrable Shield that protects us in every generation. We praise Him and tell everyone about His greatness because of our very lives and […]
Bracha #17 – Avodah (Service)
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We ask that God find us and our prayer favorable so that He see fit to restore the Temple and the service we performed there. The prayer service we recite is only a substitute for our offerings and we long to be able to serve God the way He originally intended before we were exiled […]
Bracha #15 – Malchus Beis David (The David Dynasty)
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Following right on the heels of the prayer to rebuild Jerusalem, we have a blessing asking God that the kings of the Davidic dynasty be restored to their rule. The Moshiach (Messiah) will be a descendant of the Davidic dynasty and he is referred to as “tzemach Dovid,” “the shoot of David.” (“Shoot” in this […]
Bracha #14 – Binyan Yerushalayim (The Rebuilding of Jerusalem)
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Only two blessings of Shemoneh Esrei start with the conjunction vav, meaning “and” – the blessing against heretics and this one. The blessing against heretics is already an exception but why should the prayer for rebuilding Jerusalem start with “and?” In truth, it is connected to the blessing for the righteous, which precedes it. The […]
Bracha #13 – Tzaddikim (The Righteous)
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Following the blessing requesting the removal of the heretics, we next pray for the welfare of the righteous. The Talmud in Megillah (17b), describing the order of the blessings, says that this is because when the wicked are removed, then the righteous will be elevated. The prayer identifies six categories of deserving individuals: (1) Tzaddikim […]
Bracha #12 – Birkas HaMinim (Heretics)
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The twelfth bracha, against heretics, is the one that was later inserted, with the result that there are nineteen blessings in the “Eighteen Benedictions.” According to the Talmud in Brachos (28b), this blessing was added in the days of Rabban Gamliel in response to an increase in heretics. According to Rashi there, “minim” (heretics) refers […]
Shemoneh Esrei #11 – Din (Justice)
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In the eleventh bracha, we do not request justice per se so much as we request that God restore our system of justice. Jewish jurisprudence calls for a Sanhedrin of judges carrying the original ordination, empowered to interpret the Torah and to legislate based upon it. Restoring our legal system would be the first step […]