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


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

For I am Holy
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Holiness - Served Fresh
Shlomo Katz - 5764

“Letter to my Son Akiva”
Jon Erlbaum - 5773

> Remainding Sons
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Nothing To Fear
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

Self-Love: Is it Self-ish?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

In Pursuit Of Holiness
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

The Three Crowns
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Cloaked in Dignity
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Why is this Portion Different from Other Portions?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Do it Because I am Holy
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Sefiras HaOmer and Rabbi Akiva
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

ArtScroll

Stamped a Sinner
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

It's None of Your Business
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Orlah - No Shortcuts?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Identical but Different
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758



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