Weekly Tefilah Focus

Special Elul Series

Part 4: Midos 11-13 MIDAH 11:VaFesha (and Willful Sin)* / Chesed L’Avraham (kindness to...

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Oseh mishpat la’ashukim, nosein lechem la’r’eivim, Hashem matir asurim.

He does justice for the exploited, He gives bread to the hungry, Hashem releases the bound.

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David HaMelech continues with his theme of Bitachon, illustrating examples of how Hashem takes care of us. We continue to notice the use of present tense in each of the examples. Our focus in this segment will be on one of the examples in this pasuk: “nosein lechem la’r’eivim (He gives bread to the hungry).”

The Midrash Rabbah explains that this phrase of “nosein lechem la’r’eivim” refers to B’nei Yisrael. The Midrash cites the pasuk in D’varim 8:3, which starts with “He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the manna...” Is it only the hungry that Hashem feeds? The answer is that there is a difference between the rest of the nations and B’nei Yisrael. The rest of the nations received their food at once and in enough abundance to last a long time, because their food was provided only to satisfy their desires.

B’nei Yisrael, on the other hand, did not receive their food (the manna) until they were hungry and only received enough for that day. Hashem provides food to us for a higher purpose than the nations. For us, the food is meant to inspire our recognition and contemplation of Hashem’s constant kindness and power. He alone is the One Who provides each of us with exactly what we require. This is why the pasuk states that Hashem first caused us to be hungry, and only then fed us the manna and only for one day. The manna was an instrument to teach us and ingrain within us what we need most in lives: absolute trust and reliance upon Hashem in all areas of life – personally, in our family lives, in our communal lives, and in our national lives.

(Quoted in the sefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha, this segment was mostly based on Tiferes Tzion on Midrash Rabbah, Parshas Acharei Mos. Tiferes Tzion is a commentary on Midrash Rabbah authored by HaRav Benzion Yadler, a noted magid in Yerushalayim in the early to mid-1900s.)

We can remind ourselves of this priceless lesson each time we recite Birkas HaMazon. The first brachah, which was formulated by Moshe Rabbeinu, was done so as a reminder of the manna. What is the connection between the manna and the bread we just ate on which we are reciting Birkas HaMazon? Rav Shlomo Goldfinger, in an eye-opening essay, explains: Just as the manna was clearly miraculous and a great kindness, so too is the bread we eat miraculous and a great kindness from Hashem. We are so accustomed to the miracles that, unfortunately, most of us don’t even give them a thought. If we took a few minutes to contemplate all that has to happen from the time the seed is placed in the ground until the bread arrives on our table, we would be truly astounded at the miracles and kindness involved. The seed, soil, sun, ocean, clouds, wind, rain, and so many more of Hashem’s creations, including other human beings, all play a vital role in the bread arriving at our table. When we can enjoy a delicious challah – which came from a rotted seed in dirt – that is the greatest illustration of Hashem’s kindness and power. How do we know that? In previous segments, we mentioned the Gemara that states that out of all the “ki l’olam chasdo” statements (which include the Sun, the Moon, the multitude of stars, the ten makos when Hashem took us out of Egypt, K’rias Yam Suf, and more), the greatest one is “Nosein lechem l’chol basar–He [Hashem] gives [present tense] nourishment to all flesh.” Each time we recite Birkas HaMazon, we have an opportunity to strengthen our bitachon and deepen our connection and love for Hashem.

HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l points out that the key phrase in the first brachah of Birkas HaMazon is “baavur Sh’mo HaGadol, ki Hu Keil zan u’m’farneis la’kol–For the sake of His Great Name, because He is G-d Who nourishes and sustains all.” Hashem provides all this for us so that we recognize that it is only He Who provides, with powerful compassion, all of our food and sustenance. Unfortunately, it is so easy to focus totally on our enjoyment of the delicious foods Hashem provides to us, and to mindlessly speed through the entire purpose and primary benefit of the food: enhanced bitachon and deeper connection with Hashem as we recite Birkas HaMazon.

In truth, every brachah provides us with a similar opportunity. The word “Baruch” means that Hashem is the “wellspring” – the continuous source of all blessing. Every time we say the word “Baruch” (for men, over 100 times daily), we have the precious opportunity to remind ourselves that every blessing in our lives, regardless of who the worthy and wonderful messengers are, is ultimately coming to us from the One Source of all blessing. May we merit to pause and contemplate this at least once a day when we say “Baruch Atah.”

 

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