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Monday Night Dvar Halacha

10/10/2023 05:59:36 PM


On Shmini Atzeret, we started to add an acknowledgement of Hashem’s power to bring rain in the Amida.  We add four words in the second blessing, which is now incomplete without them.  We take these changes to the Amida very seriously because precision in these matters reflects our regard for the power of words.  We are conscious every day of this crucial difference between us and the animal kingdom.  We are supposed to use words, even when we are frustrated or frightened, because we are conscious of our humanity.  Those words take a more refined form in prayer, and are even more refined when they express Dvar Hashem [Hashem’s speech].  This is why we reach for Tehillim at these times, as King David was able to express prophetic perspectives in torment and in triumph, in domestic pain and in national joy.  (In the coming weeks, I hope to offer a class about Tehillim in order to make the purported power of these chapters more approachable.)

Even people who hold fast to the value of words must be ready to use blunt force in order to protect themselves.  Unfortunately, not everyone clings so tightly to their humanity.  But we take up blunt force in sorrow, for that is not the way of a human being.  Eleh Va’Rechev V’Aleh Va’Susim, says Psalm 20:8, Va’Anachnu B’Shem Hashem Elokeinu Nazkir -- “these [go] in chariots and these on horses, but we call out in the name of Hashem.”  We know that the power of words surpasses all other powers, and even blunt force must be accompanied by fervent prayer and the eloquent power of the Dvar Hashem to be effective.    


Tue, July 23 2024 17 Tammuz 5784