Posted on May 1, 2023 By Ben Goldberg | Series: | Level:

Last class we reviewed the thirteenth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrai, continuing to review the communal blessings and focusing on our request that righteous individuals be rightfully viewed with the importance they deserve. Today we review the fourteenth blessing overall and continue examining the new set of communal requests, now with a focus on a plea for the return of Yerushalayim as the center of the world. As always, let’s first review the actual text of the blessing:

“And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion, and may You rest within it, as You have spoken. May you rebuild it soon in our days as an eternal structure, and may You speedily establish the throne of David within it. Blessed are You, HaShem, the Builder of Jerusalem.”

In the bracha immediately preceding this one, we asked that HaShem restore and uplift the righteous individuals in our midst, so the placement of this bracha makes sense – we now ask for Yerushalayim to be rebuilt, so that the righteous can live there.

But, of course, when Jerusalem is to be rebuilt is in our hands. As Sefer Chareidim notes (as explained by Rav Avraham Chaim Feuer), we were initially exiled from Yerushalayim because we began to tire of living in a place with such close proximity to HaShem. It is only when we show HaShem that we truly desire to have a close bond again, that we truly want to live in His Presence, will we merit to see Jerusalem rebuilt.

This may also be why we first ask G-d to return to Jerusalem, then we ask that He rebuild it. Shouldn’t we ask for the opposite, first requesting G-d’s home be built and then ask that He dwell in it? Perhaps because we first need to show G-d that we truly desire a close bond with Him, we first ask that He return. Then – and only then – will we show that we truly want Jerusalem rebuilt.

Until then, HaShem will continue the rebuilding process while He waits for us to signal that we truly want it to be finished. As Rav Schwab notes, the bracha ends by describing HaShem as the “Builder of Jerusalem.” We would expect it to end in the future tense, by saying something along the lines of HaShem will build Jerusalem. But that is not the case, Rav Schwab explains. From the moment the Jews were exiled, HaShem continues to rebuild the foundation of the future Yerushalayim in an ongoing process.

As we recite this bracha, we can work on making a commitment to show – through our actions, through our thoughts, and through our prayers – that we want to reenergize our bond with G-d and that we truly await the return of Mashiach and the return to glory of Yerushalayim.