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Posted on May 29, 2024 (5784) By Ben Goldberg | Series: | Level:

Last class we reviewed the sixteenth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrai, the Shema Koleinu blessing and its emphasis on a request that HaShem hear our prayers and not turn us away empty-handed. That blessing, as we noted last time, is the last of the middle section comprising requests and we now turn to the third section of the Shemoneh Esrai prayer.

Next class we’ll begin focusing on the text of the seventeenth blessing and start our in-depth review of this final section. Before we do, however, I wanted to first focus on the transition itself.

As a reminder, the Shemoneh Esrai is broken into three sections – we started with praising HaShem, then moved to making our requests, and now we finish by thanking HaShem for everything He has given us.

Why is it structured like this? Why don’t we just ask HaShem for what we want and then call it a day? As we noted at the outset of this course, prayer is structured in the way we would typically make a request – first praise, then the request, and then we finish with an offer of thanks.

However, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer, citing to Tosafos and the Rosh, notes that this next section actually does include requests, including an immediate request for the restoration of the Beis HaMikdash! How can this be?

Citing to the Rosh, Rabbi Feuer explains that because these requests will be for the welfare of the entire community, we are essentially proclaiming that the entire world depends on HaShem’s kindness and continued giving. Therefore, it still follows the general theme of thanksgiving that this section focuses on.

Rabbi Feuer goes on to note a powerful lesson we can glean from this. The more we receive from HaShem, the more we need to recognize just how dependent on HaShem we truly are. This is why we can include requests in our message of thanksgiving, for the more sincere form of gratitude is to immediately recognize that we always have to continue asking!

As we transition to the final section of this prayer, where we will focus on offering thanks to HaShem for all that He gives us, let us remember to not lose sight of the fact that everything we have – big and small – comes from Him.