As we will see in Mitzvah #433, there is an obligation for us to try to get closer to God through prayer. To help us fulfill this, our Sages established a prayer to be recited thrice-daily, corresponding to the prayers of our Forefathers. This prayer is called the Amidah (because it is recited standing); the weekday version is also called Shemoneh Esrei, the Eighteen Benedictions (although a nineteenth has since been added). Once a week for nineteen weeks, we will review the contents of the 19 blessings of “Shemoneh Esrei.”
The theme of the second blessing is God’s might or power, which He expresses through reviving or resuscitating people and things. Other kings – indeed, any person – has the ability to kill. Only God has the ability to restore.
In this blessing, we acknowledge that God supports those who are falling, frees those who are captive and heals those who are sick. Just as He enables us to awaken from sleep each day, He will ultimately cause the deceased to arise and, just as He causes seeds to sprout, so will He cause our salvation to sprout. (While not the theme of this blessing, Moshiach – the Messiah – is often likened to a seedling. Accordingly, causing our salvation to sprout is an apt metaphor.)
We refer to God in this bracha as “Ba’al gevuros,” the Master of all forms of strength. Any ability that we possess – any wealth, any wisdom, any physical power – it all comes from Him. He is the source of every type of strength, some of which He has chosen to share with us. The Talmud in Taanis (2a) tells us that there are three abilities that God has retained for Himself alone: rain, childbirth and the ability to revive the dead.
In the winter months, we insert the phrase “mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem,” that God causes the winds to blow and the rains to fall. Thematically, this is identical to the idea of the revival of the dead, as the rains revive the earth, which lays dormant (see Talmud Brachos 33a). The insertion for rain must be said in the winter but it may not be said in the summer. This is because the rain in the winter is absolutely necessary if there are to be crops in the spring. Too much rain in the summer, however, can be the kiss of death for one’s crops.