Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Impossible to Praise: Understanding the First Three Brachos of Shemoneh Esrei

Heaping Praise

Reuven was reciting Shemoneh Esrei out loud. Rebbi Chanina happened to overhear him and noticed that he was adding to the standard wording of the prayer. "Blessed is the G-d Who is great, powerful, awesome, mighty, courageous, feared, strong, brave, absolute and honored …”

Rebbi Chanina waited until Reuven finished. Afterwards he asked him, “Have you completed saying all of the praises of Hashem?! It is impossible to praise Him sufficiently!”

"If so," questioned Reuven, “why does the Shemoneh Esrei refer to Hashem as 'great, powerful and awesome’? If we are permitted to use these adjectives, why can't we use more?"

Rebbi Chanina replied: "Moshe Rabbeinu set the precedent, using these three words when he spoke to Hashem [Devarim 10,17]. Had he not used these praises beforehand, it would be audacious for us to apply them to Hashem. The Great Assembly later incorporated this phrase into the wording of Shemoneh Esrei."

Reuven thought about what Rebbi Chanina said and responded, "I understand that we are incapable of praising Hashem sufficiently. But is there anything wrong with trying to do what we can?"

Rebbi Chanina responded: "Our praise to Hashem implies deficiency. Let me offer the following analogy. If a king had a million coins of gold, and someone praised him for his silver, wouldn't that be considered a disgrace! G-d's greatness is far beyond the capability of human lips to describe, and we should not do injustice to it by attempting to describe it" (Brachos 33b).

The first part of Shemoneh Esrei is dedicated to praising Hashem in accordance with the formula established by the Great Assembly. The halacha considers the first of these blessings to be one of the most crucial parts of Shemoneh Esrei, and complete concentration is mandatory. Let us try to understand these three blessings.


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

The Perfect Storm
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Join the Voices in the Ark
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

What a Deal!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

> Faxs vs. Kidney Stones
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Raising Children: The Secret of Success
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

The Best Policy
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

ArtScroll

The Gift of Meat
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Nourishment for the Soul
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Wine and Window Washers
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Drowning in a Lack of Heaven
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

In a Heartbeat
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Making It Perfect
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

In His Generation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Leave They Must
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Too Perfect
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

The Rainbow Coalition
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information