This week’s segment of the original Weekly Tefilah Focus series, Ahavah Rabah 17, makes reference to Purim, which we just celebrated, so we are presenting Ahavah Rabah 17 to you this week. Next week, we will return, b’ezras Hashem, to the next scheduled segment in the Queens Jewish Link – Ahavah Rabah 5.
v’keiravtanu l’shimcha ha’gadol selah be’emes, l’hodos l’cha…
And You have brought us close to Your great Name forever in truth, to offer praiseful thanks to You…
Why don’t we just say that Hashem brought us closer to Him? What does “Shimcha ha’gadol” refer to? Rav Chaim Friedlander zt”l in Rinas Chaim explains that this refers to what Hashem reveals to us of His creations and His conduct in the world. Hashem has tied the sanctification of His Name to us. Through His hashgachah pratis with us, His Name is sanctified in the world. His greatness is “selah” (eternal, without end). Through us, His truth – “be’emes” –
is publicized and spread to the world.
Integrating Mitzvos into Our Daily Lives
According to Rabbeinu Bachya, simchah –
the feeling of joy through completeness and contentment – is a separate mitzvah that we can fulfill with each mitzvah. Others say that it is a great multiplier of any mitzvah. The Orchos Tzadikim writes that a mitzvah performed with simchah is 1,000 times greater than one performed without simchah.
Our ability to live b’simchah despite pain and struggle
comes from knowing that our Father who loves us
and is directing the story of our lives every step of the way
How is simchah connected to Hashem bringing us close, and to His Name being sanctified in the world?
How is it that we continue to live with simchah despite all the suffering and struggles of the past and present?
Purim is perhaps the best explanation. All throughout the story, there are seemingly unrelated events that occur over the course of many years. It is only at the end that we actually see that Hashem was with us from the start and at every step of the way.
I share one example that I had not heard before. Rav Daniel Glatstein pointed out that at the end of the Megillah there is a pasuk that seems totally out of place. The pasuk randomly tells us that Achashveirosh collected taxes. Who cares? What significance is that to us? Rav Glatstein was learning a pasuk in Navi that stated that Daryavesh, the son of Esther and Achashveirosh, built the Second Beis HaMikdash using tax funds (in the treasury). It also states that he gave silver for the keilim. In a final twist, Hashem used the tax funds that Achashveirosh collected in order to build the Beis HaMikdash! Guess who donated the silver for the keilim? It was Haman, when he gave the silver to Achashveirosh to allow him to kill us. Can we imagine a plaque as one enters: “Built by Achashveirosh, keilim generously donated by Haman”? The Megillah opens up with Achashveirosh celebrating the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash and ends with a hint as to where the funds came from to build the Second Beis HaMikdash.
Our ability to live b’simchah despite pain, suffering, and struggle, comes from knowing that our Father who loves us and considers us as an only child, is directing the story of our lives every step of the way. Every twist and turn is choreographed with precision. He knows what is best for us in this world and in the next, and wants us to succeed as much or more than we do.
The Rama began his Shulchan Aruch with “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi samid–I place Hashem before me always” (T’hilim 16:8). The last four words of his Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim are “Tov lev mishteh samid–The good-hearted are perpetually feasting” (Mishlei 15:15). The Chidah connects the two: If we want to feel like we are always in the height of a party, we must place Hashem before us constantly. Knowing that He is with me right here, right now, guiding every event, every step in my life, brings me peace of mind and simchah. Imagine knowing the final score of the Super Bowl and watching the game on video. Your team is down by 24 points at halftime. Are you breaking a sweat? Nervous? Not in the least. You know the ending. We, too, must know that the ending will be sweet, despite whatever pain, suffering, and struggle we must endure in our lives.
May we be zocheh to taste the sweetness now and fully enjoy the sweetness soon, in our days, with the coming of Mashiach bimheirah b’yameinu, Amein.
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