OU Torah Insights Project
Talmud analyzes this verse to determine that the first three of the four
blessings in Birchat Hamazon are
Torah obligations. It wasnt until many years later that the Beit
Din at Yavneh, led by Rabban Gamliel Hazaken, added the fourth blessing, Hatov Vehameitiv, after the destruction of the second Beit
blessing commemorates the miracle that occurred in Beitar in the year 3895
(135 C.E.) following the
Bar Kochba rebellion. After many in the city had been
massacred, Hashem preserved their bodies so that they would be able to receive
a proper Jewish burial.
commentaries ask why this episode has been singled out. There have been countless miracles and kind acts from Hashem.
Why did this event merit the creation of a blessing?
meaningful answer in the sefer, Beeirot
Yitzchak, written by a talmid
chacham from London named Rav Yitzchak Greenbaum.
He writes that one must understand and appreciate the mentality of the
Jews who lived at the time of the Churban
after the monumental casualties and unspeakable tragedies that occurred along
with the destruction of the second Temple, the Jewish nation managed to
regroup and seemed poised to reconquer the land of Israel.
fall of Beitar crushed that dream. The future was dire. Many were forced to
leave the land. Even the great Rabbi Akiva had to admit his misjudgment of Bar
Kochbas Messianic abilities. Beitar represented a new low. The people had
finally become hopeless.
was exactly at this time, when the Jews had sunk into the abyss of despair,
that Hashem performed this miracle at Beitar.
This was not a miracle of salvation or victory, but rather one of hope
and guidance. Hashem was telling Klal
Yisrael that even in their darkest days Imo
Anochi Betzarah - I am with them in suffering.
In times of exile and
spiritual malaise Hashem will not forsake us. Our Sages, recognizing that
the length of the exile would extend far beyond their years, instituted this
blessing for all time.
We too have witnessed much tragedy and upheaval in our times. It is incumbent upon us to concentrate intently on the meaning of this fourth blessing and to realize and appreciate that Hashem will always be with us until this chapter of our exile ends and we begin anew with redemption and salvation.
Rabbi Samuel Klibanoff
Samuel Klibanoff is rav of Congregation Ahavat Torah in Parsippany, New