In the last segment, we presented one understanding of “l’sakein olam b’malchus Sha-dai” (to perfect the world with the kingdom of Hashem). In this segment, we present two other understandings. In general, when there are various ways that we can understand a particular phrase in tefilah, each person should choose the one that resonates most in his mind and heart, and that will provide him or her with the greatest feeling of connection to Hashem. The idea of tefilah is not to try to memorize all the meanings and have them in mind. That may be appropriate when learning Torah, but not in tefilah.

As always, one should ask his or her own rav regarding any halachic questions and practical guidance.

In the episode in Parshas MiKeitz where Yosef HaTzadik kept Shimon in prison pending the brothers bringing back Binyamin to Mitzrayim, Yaakov Avinu tells his sons to go back to Egypt to obtain food. He offers a tefilah that “Keil Sha-dai (Shakai)” should give them compassion to be successful and bring back both Shimon and Binyamin. Rashi (B’reishis 43:14) there says that the simple understanding of the Name “Sha-dai” is that Hashem has an unlimited capacity of compassion, and therefore Yaakov is asking Hashem to grant His compassion to the brothers for their mission. Then Rashi quotes a midrash (Midrash Tanchuma) that says that Yaakov was saying that “the One Who said to the world (upon creation) “enough” (i.e., don’t extend beyond here), should say “enough” to my troubles.”

With this understanding, we can explain here in Al Kein that we are asking Hashem to establish the world with His Malchus and grant us His unlimited compassion to bring an end to our tzaros. Our primary tzarah is lacking the ultimate connection with Hashem, which will take place when the Shechinah returns to Yerushalayim and when we will be able to serve Hashem in the final Beis HaMikdash. [Rashi and explanation from the sefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha]

A third understanding of “Malchus Shakai” is offered by HaRav Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin (Sefer P’ri TzadikPesach 30). He explains that everything that Hashem created was created for the purpose of enhancing our avodas Hashem by increasing our awareness of Hashem and His Malchus. Hashem said to His world “dai” – meaning, there is enough in the world for us to learn all we need to learn to serve Hashem with greater and greater recognition and awareness. This includes observing and contemplating the awesomeness in Hashem’s Creations, especially in our own minds and bodies. When we study any organ or limb in the human body, we are astounded by what we learn. It’s difficult to comprehend or fathom the miracles occurring every second in our human bodies.

Consider the following basic example, which is not even as phenomenal as the brain, eyes, heart, intestines, etc.: The tongue is covered by about 8,000 taste buds, each containing up to 100 cells that help you taste your food.

HaRav Tzadok also makes another crucial point. He says that everything we see and experience is brought to us to learn from. By becoming more attuned to our experiences, we will gain greater awareness of Hashem’s constant presence and involvement in our minute-to-minute lives. HaRav Moshe Feinstein and HaRav Yaakov Kamenetsky wrote an open letter to all of klal Yisrael in 1984, stressing the great importance, especially in our generation, of becoming more aware of Hashem’s hashgachah pratis in our lives. They recommended keeping a journal and writing down when we felt Hashem’s Hand in our lives. This can be as mundane as the parking spot we get when someone pulls out just as we arrive. The spot may be mundane, but recognizing Hashem’s chesed and thanking Him for it is a tremendous opportunity. It will strengthen our emunah (a mitzvah at least as great as putting on t’filin or lighting Shabbos candles) and is a great form of service to Hashem. It will also help us feel more connected to Hashem on an ongoing basis. If we can learn to ask Hashem for the spot in advance, as well, that would provide us an even greater connection and chizuk in emunah as we constantly remind ourselves that everything happening in our lives, small and large, is controlled by Hashem.

What we are asking for in Al Kein, according to Rav Tzadok, is for Hashem to establish the world in His Malchus (awareness of His Malchus), which contains more than enough (dai) for all the world to learn of Hashem’s awesomeness and accept Him as their King, as we do today. May we merit to see that day speedily with our own eyes.

 To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments,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.