Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Return of the Service

We say: retzei hashem elokeinu be-amecha yisra-el uvesefilasam vehasheiv es ha-avoda lidvir beisecha ve-ishei yisra-el usfilasam be-ahava sekabeil beratzon us-hi leratzon tamid avodas yisra-el amecha. Translated roughly, this says something like this: Be accepting, Hashem our G-d, of Your Jewish people and of their prayers; and restore the service, and the sacrificial offerings of the Jewish people, to the sanctum of Your house. Accept their prayers with love; and may the sacrificial service of Your Jewish nation always be accepted.

It occurs to me to comment that, seemingly, this embodies a redundancy: a duplication of expression. The second sentence appears to be a mirror-image of the first.  In the first it is asked: a) that the Jewish people’s prayers be accepted, and b) that the sacrificial service be restored to the holy Temple. The second sentence, though changing some of the wording, seems to ask for these very two things, in parallel.

What it occurs to me to suggest is that: they are indeed parallel. In both are prayer and services the subjects of request. The difference is temporal. In the first we are placing ourselves in our current location in exile and asking to be restored to yerushalayim with the coming of mashiach. We seek to be returned, so that we may perform the prayer service and, also, the sacrificing service in their designated place. By contrast, in the second sentence, we are placing ourselves in the period after the redemption has occurred. We are situated in yerushalayim, and we have the beis hamikdash in our midst. Inhabiting that setting, we ask that the prayers and the sacrifices that we actually do offer should receive acceptance by G-d.

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