Tefillah Tips: Ashrei IV

March 12, 2014

“ארוממך אלקי המלך ואברכה שמך לעולם ועד– I will exalt You, my G-d the King, and I will bless Your name forever.”  This is the first verse in the acrostic psalm 145. It is composed of two phrases that express King David’s desires to exalt and bless Hashem. The question is, what exactly does it mean to exalt and bless the Creator?

The Etz Yosef explains that the two parts of the sentence refer to  1) The present world and 2) The eternal World To Come. The verse, ארוממך אלקי המלך,  therefore means “I will exalt You in this world,” and ואברכה שמך” לעולם ועד- and bless You in the World To Come.”

Alternatively, The Kad Hakemach explains that the Pasuk refers to appropriate preparation before beseeching G-d. Therefore before we acknowledge our divine blessings, we first aim to elevate G-d  in our eyes and try to recognize His omnipotence and omniscience. The verse is now understood as following:   “ארוממך אלקי המלך – I will elevate/exalt my G-d the King, ואברכה שמך לעולם ועד  – and only then I will acknowledge His blessings.”

Finally, the Vilna Gaon advances a completely different idea that is based on the logical premise that we are able to recognize and celebrate some of God’s creations i.e. His creation of nature, forces in the universe and natural beauty of the universe, yet there are dimensions of G-dliness that we cannot and will not grasp as finite human beings. The Gaon states that our verse reflects these two ideas.  “ארוממך אלקי המלך (ארוממך  is related to the word מרומם which means High above) You are way above and beyond any exaltation that I could express, but ואברכה שמך לעולם ועד nevertheless I will appreciate Your blessings and handiwork that is in front of my eyes.

Take Home Tip: Let’s pay more attention to G-d’s handiwork so that when we do daven we will be more cognizant of who we stand before in prayer.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ