Birchos HaTorah 3: V’Haarev Na
At the end of the first segment on Birchos HaTorah, we pointed out the huge, not-to-be-missed opportunity to pour our hearts out for our offspring and ourselves. The Chafetz Chaim writes that Birchos HaTorah is one of the most powerful opportunities to daven for our children and our grandchildren.
It is this second brachah (some view this as an extension of the first brachah) of Birchos HaTorah, which we begin in this segment, that provides us with this daily opportunity. This segment will discuss the very first word, which, in and of itself, should inspire us to say it with deep emotion and contemplation.
וְהַעֲרֶב נָא ה' אֱ-לקינוּ אֶת דִּבְרֵי תורָתְךָ בְּפִינוּ וּבְפִי עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשרָאֵל
And please make [the Torah] sweet (so we will love learning it), Master of all, the Master of all strength Who is able to do anything and Who takes special care of us, the words of Your Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Your nation, the House of Yisrael
The word “וְהַעֲרֶב–v’haarev” has three meanings:
• Sweet – We are asking Hashem to allow us and all of klal Yisrael to feel the sweetness of the words of Torah. We all gravitate to that which is sweet. If Torah is sweet, we will learn more Torah and want to be engrossed in it. If sports or reading a novel is sweet, we will want to become engrossed in either of those activities. There is a huge difference between someone who learns and observes Torah because he “must” and one who learns and observes because he finds it sweet and he wants to do so. Like everything else in life, this is something we must daven for. We should be pleading with Hashem for ourselves and for all our descendants, along with our brothers and sisters.
• Absorbed – The word also means a mixture, where the ingredients are totally absorbed. We are begging Hashem to make the Torah absorbed within us so that we live Torah and not just learn it. Living Torah means being a better spouse, parent, friend, neighbor. It means constantly refining our character and becoming someone who represents, to the highest standard, what a Torah Jew is. We become a living kiddush Hashem: at all times and in all places. That is what we are asking Hashem to help us with, for ourselves and for all our descendants, along with our brothers and sisters.
• Guarantor – If the Torah is sweet for us, and we absorb it into our very being, then we can become guarantors for future generations. We ask Hashem to allow us – and all those we are davening for – to have the great privilege of becoming guarantors of transmitting Torah and “Torah life” to others.
Although these are three separate meanings of the word “v’haarev,” they flow successively from one to the next. If we will be blessed with finding Torah and Torah life sweet and enjoyable, then we will be able to absorb it and become worthy ambassadors and guarantors of Torah.
We have so much more to discuss about this brachah, but just this one opening word should inspire us to put our full energy, focus, and heart into pleading for ourselves, our offspring, and all of our brothers and sisters. May Hashem, favorably and with compassion, accept our pleas and grant us the privilege of sweetness, absorption, and ultimately becoming guarantors of Torah.
(Based on Rav Yaakov Bergman in the name of the S’fas Emes)