As suggested last week, the beautiful and powerful tefilah of Ahavah Rabah is naturally connected with Birchos HaTorah. Since the Tefilah Focus program is built on constant review, we are taking the opportunity to review this crucial brachah. We have divided the series of 20 segments into ten sections. The following is Section 2, which includes Segments 2, 3, and 4.
Bonding Powerfully Through Ahavah Rabah
This brachah of Ahavah Rabah follows the brachah of Yotzeir Or. The physical world that Hashem created is enjoyed by all human beings. However, Torah is the most precious gift, which only we the Jewish Nation enjoy. First, we must appreciate the goodness that Hashem created for all of mankind, and then we can properly appreciate our great fortune of being part of Hashem’s people and the treasured gift of His Torah. [HaRav Avigdor Miller, Tefilas Avigdor]
If one is uncertain whether or not he needs to recite Birkas HaTorah on a particular day, the brachah of Ahavah Rabah may be used to fulfill the mitzvah of Birkas HaTorah. This is true not simply because this brachah mentions limud Torah. It is true because the essence of this brachah is the great and everlasting love that Hashem has for us, and there is no greater expression of this love than Hashem having given His treasured Torah to us. [HaRav Chaim Friedlander in his sefer Rinas Chaim]
Many Rishonim and Acharonim state that the purpose of life is d’veikus with Hashem. The Targum Onkelos in Parshas Eikev (D’varim 10:20) defines the word “sidbak” as “tikrav (to come close to).” The mitzvah of d’veikus and the purpose of life are to “come close to Hashem.” What does that really mean? We know Hashem is not physical so we cannot come physically close.
If we look at the Sefer Chareidim, in mitzvah 10 of the heart, he defines d’veikus based on a combination of the Ramban and the Chovos HaL’vavos as “a powerful love (for Hashem) that does not depart from us for even a moment.” The Chayei Adam (in the very first two lines of his sefer, in klal 1) writes, “It is a mitzvas asei min haTorah for one to be davuk constantly with his mind on Hashem.” He quotes the pasuk and then asks how it is possible for us to “attach” ourselves to Hashem. He states, again, that this means that “we must attach our thoughts to Hashem, as it is written (T’hilim 16:8): “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi samid (I have set Hashem always before me).”
Ahavah rabah ahavtanu…chemlah g’dolah viy’seirah chamalta aleinu
With an abundant love have You loved us…with exceedingly great compassion have You pitied us
“Ahavah rabah ahavtanu” refers to the days of the Avos and the time of Y’tzias Mitzrayim.
“Chemlah g’dolah viy’seirah” refers to the period after the Sin of the Eigel HaZahav.
The Vilna Gaon explains that after Hashem forgave us for the Sin of the Eigel, Hashem gave us the Luchos and commanded us to make a Mishkan so that He could “dwell” among us. These were benefits we did not previously enjoy. “G’dolah viy’seirah” means that Hashem favored us with a great and extraordinary compassion.
When one person wrongs another badly, and the person who was hurt is able to forgive the one who sinned against him, that is considered a great act. Many times, the forgiveness does not restore the relationship to what it was. For example, the parties may be respectful and cordial, but nevertheless the injured party will not invite the offender for a Shabbos s’udah.
If the injured party extends himself to an even greater extent and makes an effort to restore the relationship to the level that it was prior to the hurt, that is extraordinary. Hashem goes even beyond that. He not only restored our relationship to what it was prior to the Sin of the Eigel, but after we did t’shuvah, He showed us even greater and extraordinary love and compassion than before we had sinned.
Bitachon: Strength and Eternity
Avinu Malkeinu, baavur avoseinu she’batchu b’cha
Our Father, our King, for the sake of our forefathers who trusted in You…
When we said “Naaseh v’nishma” at Har Sinai, we were exhibiting our bitachon that whatever is contained in the Torah is for our benefit. That is why we accepted the Torah before even knowing exactly what we were committing ourselves to. It was in this merit of bitachon that we were zocheh to receive the Torah. [Sifsei Chaim of Rav Chaim Friedlander; Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, the Mashgiach of Mir]
Both Rabbeinu Yonah and the Vilna Gaon on Mishlei (22:19) state that the purpose of Hashem giving us the Torah was so that we could place our trust and reliance in Hashem (bitachon) and to pass that bitachon on to our children and later generations (see how the Gaon learns the p’sukim in T’hilim 78:5-7). In the words of the Vilna Gaon:
“…and the main reason for the giving of the Torah to Yisrael was that they should place trust in Hashem…because the essence of it all is the complete trust.”
The Sifsei Chaim explains this statement to mean that the purpose of all avodas Hashem is to perfect our bitachon in Hashem. We were given the treasured gift of Torah in the z’chus of our bitachon, having accepted it without asking any questions. However, only through the Torah can we perfect our bitachon and pass it on to future generations.
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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.
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You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.