Monday, March 16, 2015

Understanding Tefilah: Mizmor Shir Channukat HaBayit L’Dovid – 9

Rav Lessin

“Elecha Hashem ekra, v’el Adonai etchanan.” “To You, Hashem, I call, and to You, my Master, I appeal.”

What is the difference between kria and chanina, calling and appealing?  Furthermore, why is kria associated with “Hashem,” whereas chanina is associated with “my Master?”  Finally, what is the significance of this pasuk at this point in the mizmor?

The first Rashi in this week’s parsha, Parshat Vayikra, tells us that kria is m’lashon chiba, a call of affection.  In our mizmor, two of the previous three psukim mentioned Hashem’s ratzon, His will and desire to give us life and to support us.  Contemplating Hashem’s deepest ratzon fills one with affection for Him, and one’s call to G-d becomes a call of love.  Thinking of Hashem in this way is best associated with the name “Hashem,” which connotes Hashem’s midat harachamim, the “side” of Hashem that He shows us when he’s acting toward us as a loving father.

Chanina, on the other hand, refers to requesting a gift from Hashem despite being underserving of it (see Medrash Rabbah to Bamidbar 6:25 and Eitz Yosef there, Brachot 7a, and Sefornot on Shemot 34:6).  Here, Dovid turns to Hashem with the acute awareness that he does not possess nearly enough merits to warrant the continued sustenance and support he spoke about in the previous pasuk. Nevertheless he davens, because he knows that Hashem provides a “matnat chinam,” a free gift, despite the fact that he may have done very little to earn it.  This form of turning to Hashem is best associated with Him as the Master of all, before Whom we really deserve very little, but from Whom we receive everything.

L’Refuat Gavriel Pinchas ben Devorah Zlata

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