Tefillah Tips: Ashrei XI

July 17, 2014

This will be the last tip of the semester:

“חנון ורחום ה’, ארך אפים וגדל חסד – G-d is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in kindliness.” Rav Avigdor Miller points out that this verse is a mini version of the thirteen divine attributes of mercy “ה’, ה’, א-ל רחום וחנוןG-d, G-d Merciful and gracious.”

The word חנון  –gracious– is related to the word חן which means charm and beauty, and חינם which means for free. When King David says G-d is חנון, he implies that because of His graciousness He bestows incredibly loving goodness upon His creations over and beyond our needs.

The word רחום  – merciful– is related to the word רחםwhich means a womb. G-d’s compassion and love for each and every person is like the compassionate love of a mother who carries her children in her womb.

ארך אפים– slow to anger – indicates that G-d is divinely patient. Were it not for his patience and desire that all His children should improve, we could not and would not exist because punishment for sin and misdeed would occur instantaneously.

וגדל חסד– great in kindliness – besides the simple understanding that G-d is great and kind, Rav Miller advances a deeper explanation. He writes that all G-d’s greatness is apparent in His kindliness. Therefore any and all forms of greatness that is written in Tanach must be viewed through the prism of kindliness. This includes His might, wisdom, glory, strength; all manifest in His kindliness.

Take Home Tip: As we recite King David’s rendition of the Divine Atrributes of Hashem, we should refresh our attempts to imitate and emulate G-d through our interaction with one another. The more we emulate Hashem, the more we reflect G-dliness to the world around us and create a Kiddush Hashem – A Sanctification of G-d’s name.