Ki Keil po’eil y’shuos Atah, u’vanu vacharta mi’kol am v’lashon
For You effect salvations, O G-d; You have chosen us from among every people and tongue.
Although we are so far away from what we are asking for (see Ahavah Rabah 15) and we are undeserving of salvation right now, we nevertheless ask Hashem for salvation because He is “Keil” (All-Powerful and All-Capable) and He is “po’eil y’shuos” (He effects salvation without any assistance from those being saved).
We then state that Hashem has chosen us over all nations and languages. “Lashon” refers to Hashem giving us His Torah, which is written in lashon ha’kodesh.
Based on the Maharal, the Sifsei Chaim (Rabbi Chaim Friedlander) explains that this phrase is a continuation of the previous one. When we say, “Hashem chose us,” this means His choosing us had nothing to do with our merits. This is to our great benefit, for if Hashem had chosen us due to our merits, then if we stopped being meritorious, we would lose our distinction as Hashem’s people. However, since Hashem chose us on His own, irrespective of our merits, we will never lose our closeness with Hashem as His people.
Integrating Mitzvos Into Our Daily Lives
One of the ways we can work on the mitzvah of loving Hashem is to feel Hashem’s love for us. We quote from the sefer Shaarei Orah, by Rav Yaakov Hamburger (Judaica Press): “Rabbi Miller approached the pursuit of loving Hashem from every angle. He taught that a tremendous resource for acquiring a love for Hashem was contemplating the great love Hashem has for us. The more one feels the great love of Hashem toward him, the more one will reciprocate with feelings of love. Hashem has limitless love for us, both as a nation and as individuals.”
One of the ways we can work on the mitzvah of loving Hashem is to feel Hashem’s love for us
In the section of the birchos k’rias Shema, prior to Ahavah Rabah / Ahavas Olam, we talked about Hashem’s awesome creations of the Heavenly Hosts, all the various levels of mal’achim and all that is in the seven heavens. And yet, of all these awesome creations, we now see that Hashem chose us. If we contemplate this for a few seconds each day as we say Ahavah Rabah / Ahavas Olam and “Atah bacharta b’Avram” (also after mentioning Hashem’s other awesome creations), we can fulfill the mitzvah of working on our ahavas Hashem and walk away from tefilah feeling the love of Hashem as the most privileged creation of the entire Universe!
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