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

Email this article to a friend

Personal Needs: Understanding the Middle Blessings of Shemoneh Esrei I

Knowing What to Ask For

The Roman General Vespasian was sent to conquer Jerusalem. After a long siege of the city, the inhabitants were beginning to weaken from hunger and fatigue, and it seemed that Vespasian was on the cusp of triumph. At that time, Rav Yochanan ben Zakai covertly left the walls of Jerusalem and sought a meeting with the Roman general.

Rav Yochanan greeted Vespasian as king, citing a verse that the Temple could be conquered only by royalty. Vespasian was initially offended by Rav Yochanan's seeming slight to the real monarch, but just then a messenger arrived from Rome and proclaimed that he had been appointed the new emperor. In order to reward Rav Yochanan for prophetically being the first to address him by his proper title, Vespasian offered to grant the great Sage a wish. Rav Yochanan then made his famous request, “Give me Yavneh and its Sages.”

The Talmud takes issue with Rav Yochanan ben Zakai's request. At that moment of grace, when he could have asked for anything, shouldn’t he have appealed that Jerusalem and the Temple not be destroyed? The Talmud cites the verse, “I am Hashem … that turns wise men backwards and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44,25) to show that at times Hashem does not allow a person to ask for the right thing (Gittin 56b).

This story sends a strong message: We need Divine guidance in making important requests. And what requests could be more important than those we present daily before the King of kings during Shemoneh Esrei? Let us explore how the middle blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei guide a Jew to ask for the right things that he truly needs for himself and his family.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON BALAK AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Bilaam's Obsession
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Our Achilles' Heel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Why Do We Mourn?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Habit Forming
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

YomTov, vol. XIII # 3
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Money Order - Getting Our Priorities Straight
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

ArtScroll

Bilaam was a 'Spiritual' Man
Rabbi Label Lam - 5758

The Segulot of Mitzvot
Shlomo Katz - 5772

The Red Heifer Reality
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

> Ultimate Greed
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

The Apter Rav: How Do You Spell Ahavas Yisrael?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

Was G-d Bilaam's Agent?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

About This We Cry!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Prophet Motive
Rabbi Label Lam - 5761

Straight From The Heart
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Making the Most of Our Days
Shlomo Katz - 5774



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