Friday, April 24, 2015

Understanding Tefilah: Baruch She’amar - 1

Rav Dovid Lessin

“Baruch she’amar v’haya ha’olam, baruch hu.” “Blessed is He Who spoke and the world came into being, Blessed is He.”  3 points to remember:

1. “Baruch” – This is one of the most common words in all of tefila, and it frames the Psukei D’Zimra section of davening that we are now entering.  The Avudraham explains that “baruch” is a description of Hashem, much like “chanun” and “rachum” (words with the same grammatical structure).  It describes Hashem as possessing all blessing, and, therefore, all blessing we receive must come from Him.  “Baruch” is about acknowledging where things come from. We state that the item/phenomemon I am currently focusing on (a food, a force of nature, a period in time) exists because Hashem caused it to be here at this moment.  “Baruch” is the word that connects things back to the source from which they came.

2. “Baruch she’amar v’haya ha’olam” – Why did Hashem use the faculty of speech to create the world?  Speech is the expression of will, the most direct form of communication, of letting another person know what you want them to understand.  Hashem speaks to us in many ways.  Here we are stating that at one point in time, Hashem spoke to us and instead of words coming out, a world formed.  The world is one form of Hashem’s communication to us.  Hashem spoke during the process of creation and continues to speak through the messages contained in the world around us.  Our job is to view the world (history, life events, hashgacha) as a form of communication, and to listen for what Hashem is telling us.

3. “Baruch hu” – Ultimately, we cannot capture Hashem’s essence with words.  We cannot fully describe Him.  So although we begin Psukei D’Zimra with a description of Hashem’s greatness, we say “Blessed is He” to convey our understanding that the full picture of Who Hashem is far exceeds our comprehension.

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