The next phrase in the tefilla that we will examine is, “המהולל בפי עמו, משובח ומפואר בלשון חסידיו ועבדיו-[G-d] is lauded by the mouths of his people and praised and glorified by the tongues of his pious followers and servants”.
After reading these words carefully two questions could be asked. Firstly, what is the difference between the lauding of the people and the praising of the servants? And secondly what is to be understood from the fact that the people use their mouths and the servants use their tongues?
The Baruch Sheamar, written by HaRav Baruch Halevy Epstein zt”l, discusses the matter at length. He explains the answer to our first question saying that Hallel, lauding of G-d, could and should be done by everyone and anyone of the Jewish people. Shevach, praise of G-d, is reserved for a privileged group referred to as pious servants. A true servant knows his master better than distant flowers and is therefore able to provide true and fitting praises.
Rabbi Epstein zt”l uses a similar approach to understand the answer to the second question as well. ‘Prayers from the mouth’ implies a generic and standard style of prayer; whereas, ‘praise of the tongue’ represents a more poignant and descriptive expression of prayer with plenty of skillful detail.
Take Home Tip: Tefillah is something that we need to get better at as we grow older and closer to G-d. We should not daven at thirty-five years old the same way we davened when we were five years old.
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