Monday, June 20, 2011


In the preceding post we talked about the Shemoneh Esrei and we raised a question about the two distinctive patterns that the different berachos of bakasha seem to follow. Some close with a ki-clause and others do not.

We ventured the thought that a ki-clause serves to justify the request we have made by giving a rationale, as it were, for (kiveyachol) Hashem’s intercession in fulfilling the request. Pardon our sins, we say, because You are a pardoning King. And so on and so forth. But we were left with the question of why only certain of the bakashos are singled out for closure with a ki-clause and not the others.

In this post we hope to begin to close in on this question. Let us begin by surveying the terrain and seeing which bakashos do and do not feature an appended ki-cluase. Taking it from the top we find that the first bakasha, ata chonein, appears not to. It reads: chaneinu me-itecha de-a bina vehaskeil. Immediately the chasima follows: baruch ata... So no expression of justification appears to be backing up this request. Next we move on to hashiveinu which, as noted in the previous post, does not embody a ki-claus. Turning to the third, we encounter selach lanu, which as, again, noted, does have a ki-clause. This brings us to re-ei ve-anyeinu. Very patently, it has a ki-clause: ki goe-l chazak ata. The same holds true for refa-einu, the following beracha. When we encounter bareich aleinu, though, we notice at once that it is without a ki-clause. (This, of course, assumes that you are davening in nusach ashkenaz, which you may not be.) Moving on to the next several up the line, we observe that neither teka beshofar nor hashiva shofeteinu nor velamalshinim nor al hatzadikim nor vilirushalayim irecha nor es tzemach has a ki-clause. At this point we encounter the final of the berachos of bakasha, shema koleinu; and immediately we notice that it does have a ki-clause.

This concludes our inventory. Now, with the terrain staked out perspicaciously before us, it will behoove us to ponder it closely and see whether any incipient underlying principle rises to the surface. I would like to claim that, with some due penetration, we may in fact be able to discern the roots of a principle of demarcation that governs the entire spectrum of the bakashos of the Shemoneh Esrei. I hold that at the foundation of this emerging principle of demarcation lies the following kernel of insight.

There are two kinds of thing we may ask for. One is such that, once our request has been answered and the need sought has been provided, the request becomes null and void: it falls away entirely. A request like this holds good only for so long as it has not been met; once it has, it is as if it had evaporated into thin air. It has, we may say, become unfounded. By contrast, other requests are requests for things that are needed on an ongoing basis. A single fulfillment of it does not  deactivate the request, going forward. The request remains in force, seeking repeated acts of fulfillment – in relation to like manifestations of the need, occurring over time and in unforeseen places. They are, if you will, perennial requests...ones that keep reinserting and reasserting themselves. They are distinguished from the fleeting requests, spoken of a moment ago. 

On this foundation, I want to say, does the difference between those bakashos that culminate in a ki-claue and those that do not rest. The explication of this is what I’ll want bs”d to come to in the next post.

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