The War in Israel Part 4 - Can My Private Words and Thoughts Really Save Lives?

While all tefilah and T’hilim are sorely needed and crucially important at the current time, our daily Shemoneh Esrei has at least two powerful advantages.

First, the words that we say were given to the Anshei K’neses HaG’dolah through prophecy and ruach ha’kodesh, designed to provide us with all our needs. Hashem, Who knows all, infused into these words everything we would ever need.

When the Beis Yosef learned with a mal’ach referred to as the “Maggid,” the Maggid instructed him to think only about the words while he davens Shemoneh Esrei. Rav Chaim of Volozhin points out that the mal’ach did not say “think about the kavanos of the words.” He simply said “think” – meaning, visualize each word (see the sefer Nefesh HaChayim 2:13 for more detail). Each word is like a nuclear weapon. Our job and privilege are to “send each one up” by focusing on each word as we say it. If we send them up properly, they will hit their mark. We cannot fathom what we can accomplish through our Shemoneh Esrei.

Second, during Shemoneh Esrei, we are closer to Hashem than at other times.  Halachah bears this out. For example, one may not pass in front of someone davening Shemoneh Esrei because he will be walking between the person and the Shechinah. We are standing before Hashem. Of course, Hashem is everywhere at all times, but during Shemoneh Esrei He is closer.

Another halachah that makes this clear to us is found in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 94). Before we begin our Shemoneh Esrei (not in between the brachah of Ga’al Yisrael and Shemoneh Esrei), we must feel in our hearts and minds as if we are standing in the Kodesh HaKodashim (the most sanctified place on earth) in the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim.

With the tremendous potential in mind of our Shemoneh Esrei that Hashem has gifted to us, and with permission from ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, we present the brachah of G’ulah–Redemption, as explained by HaRav Shimon Schwab (reproduced from Rav Schwab on Prayer, with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, Ltd.). As we will see, this does not refer to our ultimate redemption. We present excerpts, mostly from Rav Schwab on Prayer, and one from Shemoneh Esrei, by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer).

Please note that Rav Schwab delivered these shiurim between 1991 and 1993, about 30 years ago. As I read this, I couldn’t help but feel that he was right here and now delivering these same shiurim to us. These words of Rav Schwab should speak to us very loudly right now.

May we be speedily redeemed from our current tzarah, and may that lead us immediately into our ultimate redemption, to see Hashem’s Honor fully restored, as we unite as one to return to Yerushalayim and the third and final Beis HaMikdash.


Rav Schwab on Prayer: The Teachings of Rabbi Shimon Schwab on the Siddur:

I saw a description by a bachur in the Mirrer Yeshivah of his life during the years 1936-1938, in which he says that he felt quite safe in Poland, although he knew that he could not travel to Germany because of the political situation there. How blind these people were to the extremely menacing situation in which they lived.

As free as we seem to be here, nevertheless, we should know that here, too, in America, we are living in galus. There is hate all around us. This was a big surprise about 15 years ago, but now we realize that even here in America we are not secure. We came here because we were disliked in Europe, and if we were suddenly forced to leave America, where would we find security?... There is no place on earth where Jews are “erwunsched” (welcome), where the general population desires and would welcome an influx of Jews. Therefore, as long as we are in galus, we ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu to protect us from the danger that lurks all around us, although such danger may be quite unbeknown to us.

ראה בענינו, וריבה ריבנו – See our affliction, fight our battle

Paraphrased, this means: See our misery; we are weak, we have no real power to guarantee our survival, so therefore we ask that You, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, fight our battle for survival.

וגאלנו מהרה למען שמך – and redeem us speedily for Your Name’s sake

This does not refer to the eventual g’ulah sh’leimah at the time of y’mos haMashiach. Rather, this is a tefilah for protection against the daily assaults, fears, apprehensions, and persecutions that our people face, whether in Eretz Yisrael or anywhere else in the world.

כי גואל חזק אתה – for You are a powerful Redeemer.

Paraphrased, this means: Because Your Name is the “Strong Redeemer.” During our entire galusHaKadosh Baruch Hu has shown us, again and again, how He is the גואל ישראל, the constant redeemer of Israel.

ברוך אתה ה', גואל ישראל – Blessed are You, Hashem, Constant Redeemer of Israel.

The words גואל ישראל, Constant Redeemer of Israel, refer to the continuing redeeming action of HaKadosh Baruch Hu while we are in galus. While we are in galus, hated and despised by the world, we look to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, our גואל, for protection against our enemies. This is not the same as גאל ישראל, He Who has redeemed Israel, said before the Shemoneh Esrei, which refers to g’ulah from Mitzrayim.

Our situation in galus is a tenuous one – despite the fact that we may feel quite secure – replete with potential dangers that are not always known to us. This is analogous to one who feels quite healthy, except for some minor discomforts. However, when his doctor examines him, he discovers that he is indeed seriously ill.

Throughout our galus, we have existed by nissim. In spite of the animosity all around us, our nation continues to exist as one sheep among seventy wolves. So we end this brachah with Baruch Atah Hashem, Go’eil Yisrael, thanking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His continuing g’ulah throughout our galus, for the many hundreds of thousands of instances where individuals – and whole communities – were saved. 


Shemoneh Esrei, by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer:

“Unlike the blessing preceding the Amidah, which refers to G-d as גאל ישראל, He Who redeemed Israel, in the past, this blessing is in the present tense, which denotes ongoing action. G-d redeems us continually, on a daily, hourly, even minute-to-minute basis. He is prepared to help us with every problem, all the time. If we will only call on Him, G-d is ready to help us.”