What are the three most frequent and arguably the most powerful words (outside of words of Torah) that we say every single day of our lives? Many of us will recite these words, b’ezras Hashem, close to or over three million times over the course of our lives.
In last week’s segment, we presented part of HaRav Shimon Schwab’s beautiful writing about Adon Olam. Contained therein was the following:
“Someone once asked me how one davens with kavanah (intent), for one simply cannot concentrate for so long. I advised him to simply start by saying Baruch Atah Hashem and to concentrate on its meaning. He should continue with this thought every time these words occur. If a person practices this often enough, his kavanah will eventually flow over to the rest of the tefilos.”
What should we think about when reciting these words, and how can we make them so powerful that each time we recite them, we will be strengthening our emunah, bitachon, and love and fear of Hashem?
While there are many meanings for the word Baruch and the Sheim Hashem, we will present an approach that we feel will elicit the strongest feeling of awareness and connection with Hashem. For most people, including myself, if we start thinking about too many multiple meanings, it becomes an intellectual exercise. That detracts from keeping the focus on praising and thanking Hashem and strengthening our emunah, our bitachon, and our awareness and love of Hashem.
Of course, there are special individuals who are capable of having multiple meanings in mind and derive all of the above from their brachos. This segment is not meant for them.
Our suggestion for consideration – and modification by each individual to tailor to his or her own personal specification – is:
YOU, Master of all (creation), and my personal Master, are the continuous source of (all) blessing (in my life).
Since we say the words in a different order, it may flow more like this:
Baruch Atah – YOU are the continuous source of (all) blessing (in my life)
Hashem – Master of all (creation) and my personal Master
Let us now explore how these three words can lead us to greater emunah, bitachon, yir’as Hashem, and ahavas Hashem.
The word “Atah” is direct. When we speak to our rav or rebbe, we typically are supposed to speak in third person to honor the rav. “Would the Rav like a cup of coffee” is one example. Here, however, the Master of all the Universe allows us to address Him directly. That should give us a feeling of closeness and privilege. It should also fill us with a sense of reverence. We are speaking TO the King of all Kings. If we shuffle papers or look at a screen while we make a brachah, we are totally missing the point of a brachah. Understandably, some pretty harsh words have been written about one who makes a brachah in that way. Imagine if we were standing in front of a gadol ha’dor and, while speaking to him, we were looking at our cell phone. Could we even imagine something so preposterous? I hope not.
The word “Baruch” should evoke feelings of love and gratitude for Hashem. We have so many blessings in our lives. Each day that we wake up is a cause for thanks and feelings of love. We have written often about gratitude to Hashem, so we will not expand any further here.
Feelings of emunah are also appropriate here. With every brachah, we have the great opportunity to further inculcate our belief that everything we have comes from Hashem; and while other people may be His worthy messengers, He alone is the ultimate source. Bitachon, as well, should be strengthened through our brachos. Since Hashem is the ONLY source, we deepen our awareness that we can rely ONLY on Hashem for ALL of our needs and desires.
The word “Hashem” should evoke awe and reverence, but at the same time feelings of close personal relationship. He is the Master of all; but at the same time, as Rav Schwab so beautifully wrote (see last week’s segment), we have a personal relationship with the Almighty. Each of us is stating, “He is my personal G-d.” This evokes the feelings of love and bitachon. Hashem loves us more than any human being. He provides us with what only He knows is truly best for each of us. At times that is painful. Many times, it is sweet. Either way, it is meant for our ultimate benefit for our eternal world.
Though we have tried to keep these three words as straightforward as possible, it is still a very tall order to recite brachos with mindfulness and all the thoughts and feelings we have mentioned. It takes many years of slow and steady practice and growth. Growth in emunah, bitachon, awareness (yir’as Hashem), love of Hashem, expressing our gratitude, and praising Hashem are at the top of the list of why we are alive and what our purpose is in this world. These three words said so many times and so often are one of the greatest and yet most underutilized tools and gifts we have been granted to grow steadily in fulfilling our purpose.
Consider committing to make just ONE brachah daily at a specified time when you know you will have quiet and time to pause and reflect, if only for 30 seconds before that one brachah. A half a minute is really all we need to start on the road of bringing great blessing upon all the Jewish people and the world, as well, in advancing on the road to achieving our purpose in life. The rewards for all of us nationally, communally, and individually are beyond description. When Hashem sees our desire, effort, and commitment, He will surely bless us with success to eventually turn that one brachah a day into many and even most. That will change our lives. That is the power of the brachos we recite. Let us decide and commit now to invest in our future. It may turn out to be the best investment we will have made in our lives.
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please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,”
and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.
For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com
or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.