The fourteenth blessing in our daily blessings regimen is הנותן ליעף כח – G-d grants strength to the tired.
The commentators note that this blessing appears out of sequence. Firstly, the previous two brachot are directly related to the people of Israel – אוזר ישראל בגבורה and עוטר ישראל בתפארה – and this one seems unrelated. Secondly, after describing in great detail the blessings and gifts which have been restored to us in the morning, from our eyesight to our shoes, why do we now mention the morning fatigue we have hopefully already overcome?
The Avudraham writes that הנותן ליעף כח is indeed related to the previous blessings and is thereby directly linked to the Jewish people.
He explains that in addition to the simple understanding that the blessings refer to our belts and caps, these three blessings reflect our age-old struggle of persecution in the exile. The unrest in the Middle East and recent instances of global antisemitism are a painful reminder of the clashes we have endured in our host nations throughout the centuries. Jewish blood and tears have drenched too many streets in too many cities for too long!
The existential threat to our nation is disconcerting to say the least. Consequently, we could become despondent and less confident in our role as a “light unto the nations.” Therefore, these three brachot address our potential attitudes of insecurity and, G-d forbid, hopelessness; and fortify us to accomplish in the world. Despite how bleak our situation may ever look, G-d girds us with his gevurah – strength – and crowns us with his tifarah – splendor. No matter when or where, we trust in Hashem that He will present us with the strength not only to survive, but also to thrive in His world. He is the נותן ליעף כח – the provider of strength to the tired.
As we have just arrived in the lunar month of Tammuz, which contains the beginning of the annual three weeks of mourning for our beloved Temple, may Hashem answer all of our prayers and restore comfort to Zion and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Epstein, Congregation Sons of Israel Cherry Hill NJ
Orthodox Union Department of Community Services
Frank Buchweitz, National Director
Hannah Farkas, Program Manager
Adina Tabak, Administrative Assistant