Tefillah Tips: Ashrei VI

March 27, 2014

“גדול ה’ ומהולל מאד, ולגדלתו אין חקר –Hashem is great and exceedingly praised; and His greatness is beyond our investigation.” This is the third verse in Psalm 145; it therefore begins with the letter ג.

This sentence logically follows the previous one. Last week we studied, “Every day I will bless You; and I will praise You forever.” This week’s verse expresses that the amount of praise necessary to praise G-d properly is infinite. G-d is often referred to as HaMakom, The Place, (see the Haggaddah for an example). The commentators explain this to mean that since G-d is infinite and omnipotent, the world is within Him and not that G-d resides in the world. Therefore the sentence states “גדול ה’ ומהולל מאד”;  G-d is so unbelievably great, and our praises to Him are only a fraction of what is fitting.

“ולגדלתו אין חקר – His greatness is beyond our investigation”. About this phrase the Vilna Gaon writes the famous thought, “The more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know”. This phenomenon sometimes could cause frustration and even despair to those that worry that there is just too much to learn, too many laws, too many opinions… simply too much!

An antidote to this condition is to realize that since G-d is infinite, Torah is infinite too, but mankind is merely finite. G-d understands this; we need to grasp it too. Not only are we mortal and finite, we also are created differently from one another and endowed with different strengths and talents. Therefore everyone is called upon to reach and accomplish all that they can in accordance with the skills and gifts they have been blessed with. There is no need to worry about what we may never understand, rather we should focus on what we can and do understand, and consequently what we can accomplish in G-d’s world.

Take Home Tip: Despite the fact that G-d and Torah are infinite, and we are finite, there is nevertheless so much Torah we can learn, understand and incorporate into our lives.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ