Tefillah Tips: Baruch Sheamar V

November 20, 2013

The next phrase in Baruch Sheamar which we will explore is “ברוך פודה ומציל- Blessed is G-d that redeems and saves”.  We need to understand what the difference is between redemption and salvation.

The Vilna Gaon zt”l explains in the Siddur Hagra that redemption means freedom with the consent of the captor; whereas salvation is defined as against the will of the captor. A basic tenet of Jewish thought and philosophy maintains that G-d is the King of kings and the All-powerful force in and of the universe. Therefore, if G-d desires to redeem and/or save a captive no entity in the world can prevent him from succeeding. Therefore He is ברוך פודה ומציל – The ultimate redeemer as well as savior.

Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l advances a completely different thought on the matter.

He maintains that after uttering the previous phrases which proclaim G-d’s ability and reliability to maintain eternal justice and punish the wicked for their wickedness, one might be intimidated, frightened and consequently less aware of G-d’s unmatched love and concern for His people. Therefore, the prayer continues- “Blessed is G-d that redeems and saves” to remind us of His eternal loving bond with the Jewish people collectively and individually.

Rav Miller zt”l explains that the word redeem implies a change of status i.e. from slave to a free citizen. The word salvation means an intellectual and emotional uplift because after a prisoner is released and a slave is freed, he may remain traumatized psychologically for years and sometimes even for life. Hashem not only helps the released prisoner/captive to achieve a new status, but also helps him to transcend the trauma that remains in order to build a more wholesome and productive life.

Take Home Tip:

Although in our generation we do not encounter forced enslavement and captivity on a regular basis, Bli Ayin Hara, many of us are captive to our own inclination(s). This tefilla also serves to remind us that with G-d’s help we can break free from personal bad habits, wrong attitudes, and negative behaviors if we systematically attempt to. True success will be achieved not only by behavioral improvement, but also by viewing ourselves in a completely new light. Although this is not an easy task to achieve, we can persevere because we have a loving Creator in heaven that will help us every step of the way in order win this vital battle- “ברוך פודה ומציל – Blessed is G-d that redeems and saves”.

Shabbat Shalom,

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