“פותח את ידיך ומשביע לכל חי רצון – Open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
This verse is the highlight of the prayer Ashrei. The Jewish Code of Law – The Shulchan Aruch states clearly that if one does not say this verse with proper intent, he must say the verse again correctly. It is also interesting to note that in the Sefardic version of Birkat Hamazon this verse is stated in the first and primary paragraph before the concluding ברוך אתה…הזן את הכל. So what is it about this Pasuk that is so compelling and powerful?
One answer is that it deals with Parnassa/man’s sustenance. Our sages tell us that Parnassa comes straight from the hands of Hashem. And without Parnassa we cannot survive on this earth at all. Our sages compare the complexity and importance of the divine provision of man’s sustenance with the miraculous Splitting of the Red Sea. We therefore pray this verse with great intent to declare and affirm that it is G-d and G-d himself that is behind the sustenance of every living thing.
The Zohar /Kabbalah explains that the final word of the verse, רצון implies satiation. The verse therefore is referring not only to the blessings of Parnassa, but in addition to feeling sated with the sustenance awarded. The nature of man is to want more, and more, and more – as the Midrash states , “If one has one hundred, he wants two. If he has two hundred, he wants four…” It is truly a divine blessing to behold when one achieves true satisfaction with his lot.
Indeed the Siddur HaGra states specifically that “פותח את… רצון” declares the double blessing of sustenance and the gift of feeling sated from it.
Take Home Tip: Remember to recite פותח את ידיך with great intent and be mindful of the divine gifts of sustenance as well as feeling sated with our lot.
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