Bracha #13 – Tzaddikim (The Righteous)
As we will see in Mitzvah #433, there is an obligation for us to try to get closer to God through prayer. To help us fulfill this, our Sages established a prayer to be recited thrice-daily, corresponding to the prayers of our Forefathers. This prayer is called the Amidah (because it is recited standing); the weekday version is also called Shemoneh Esrei, the Eighteen Benedictions (although a nineteenth has since been added). Once a week for nineteen weeks, we will review the contents of the 19 blessings of “Shemoneh Esrei.”
Following the blessing requesting the removal of the heretics, we next pray for the welfare of the righteous. The Talmud in Megillah (17b), describing the order of the blessings, says that this is because when the wicked are removed, then the righteous will be elevated.
The prayer identifies six categories of deserving individuals: (1) Tzaddikim – the righteous, those motivated by justice, who are meticulous in mitzvos; (2) Chasidim – the pious, those motivated by love, who go beyond the letter of the law; (3) Ziknei Amcha – the elders of the nation, the spiritual leaders of the people; (4) Pleitas Sofreihem – the remnant of the nation’s teachers, those select few who dedicate their lives to teaching Torah; (5) Geirei HaTzedek – sincere converts, who left their old lives behind to cling to the Jewish people; and (6) Aleinu – us, the simple but well-meaning Jews, even if we’re nothing special. We pray that all of these, including ourselves, enjoy God’s mercy.
Next we ask that God give a “good reward” to all who place their trust in His Name. A good reward is not a passing reward in this world but an eternal reward in the Next World. We ask that our lot be with the righteous so that we will never be shamed because we have put our trust in God. The blessing ends that God is the One Who supports the righteous and in Whom they place their trust.