Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Paradigmatically Fleeting Request

At this point, we encroach upon the berachos of teka beshofar, hashiva, viliyerushalayim irecha, and es tzemach. They share something important in common, thematically speaking. They are all concerned with the geula asida. As such, they do not represent perennial bakashos. Let (kiveyachol) the Ribono Shel Olam answer our prayer by sending us mashiach; and we will never enunciate the prayer again. It will have served its purpose – may it be soon. The bakasha is therefore fleeting in the sense previously described; so it is no wonder that the beracha does not bear a ki-clause.

Parenthetically, we earlier lumped re-ei ve-anyeinu with perennial bakashos, seeking to justify its embodiment of a ki-clause. Yet, by our present reasoning, this bakasha would seem to call for the suppression of a ki-clause. After all, the bakasha bespeaks redemption: ugaleinu meheira lema-an shemecha. And its chasima reads: go-el yisra-el. However, the perplexity here is no more than superficial. For Rashi in Tractate Megila makes it plain that the beracha of re-ei ve-anyeinu does not pertain to the ge-ula asida, for which are, as we have seen, already set aside four others of the bakashos of the Amida. It concerns itself, rather, with the day-to-day travails that beset us in our present situation. It asks that we be relieved of, and redeemed from, them. The need referred to is thus definitely general and ongoing; the amelioration sought is repeatable. So the beracha’s embodiment of a ki-clause is consistent with the position we have taken.

This leaves us with but the beracha of shema koleinu to take account of. But hardly anything more needs to be said, considering that shema koleinu obviously addresses a perennial need for the Ribono Shel Olam to hearken to our tefilos, and that it has a ki-clause.


This completes the compass of our designated area of investigation. What I want to add in an extra-curricular vein is that the beracha of sim shalom does not, strictly speaking, number among the bakashos of the Shemoneh Esrei. It is, after all, positioned in the third section, designated for expressions of thanks. This notwithstanding, the fact cannot be gainsaid that it seems to ask for something, namely, that the A-lmighty grant us peace. I won’t take up the question of why it is, then, arranged with the berachos of hodo-a rather than with those of bakasha. I will simply assume that it is possible to ask for something in a beracha of hodo-a. The observation I would make, then, is that what is asked for – that peace be on us – is something for which there is a perennial need. This being so, it ought to follow, per our adumbrated understanding, that the beracha would embody a ki-clause. Yet, seemingly it does not. Where is it?

To this I want to offer the suggestion that, perhaps, the last stanza of the nusach embodies a ki-clause, without, however, employing the word ki. It reads: vetov be-einecha levareich es amecha yisra-el bechal eis uvchal sha-a bishlomecha. One may raise the question: why is this (statement) inserted here? Interestingly, the Avudraham weighs in on this, and he wants to interpret the clause as requesting: May it be good in Your Eyes to bless Your people yisra-el at all times with Your peace. In other words, he interprets vetov be-einecha as meaning what would be meant if the word yeheye were inserted: vetov yeheye be-einecha. (And nusach ha-ari actually renders it this way.) However, on the thinking I am proposing, vetov be-einecha may be read in a more literal way, as stating that (kiveyachol) Hashem Yisbarach favors blessing His people with peace. The statement is inserted here to justify, if you will, the request for peace, which is of a perennial nature. It justifies it by appealing to the fact that it is of (kiveyachol) G-d’s character to favor us with peace. It is, then, as if the statement had embodied the word ki.

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