Barcheinu Avinu, kulanu k’echad b’or panecha
Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, with the light of Your countenance
We now continue with the meaning of the wording in Sim Shalom, focusing on how the wording fits within the overall goal of this brachah and, in fact, the entire tefilah, as expressed in Shemoneh Esrei 61 from Rabbi Goldfinger: “to draw Hashem closer to us as we move closer to Him.”
We refer to Hashem as “Avinu” – our Father (Who loves us) – as we ask Him to bless us (“Barcheinu Avinu”). With the words “kulanu k’echad,” we ask Hashem to bless us as one, equally together, without any envy of someone potentially receiving more than us. We ask that He bless us with one brachah that encompasses all of the other brachos within it. This is the brachah of “or panecha” – the light of Hashem’s countenance. [Tefilas Avigdor by HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l; Tzidkos Tzadik, HaRav Shlomo Kluger]
What is “or panecha”? HaRav Tzadok HaKohen miLublin (Tzidkos HaTzadik) writes that when Hashem lights up our minds and hearts (“lev”) with the absolute truth of “efes zulaso” – there is nothing but Hashem – at that moment He has blessed us with the greatest brachah possible. “Efes zulaso” is living with the clear and absolute recognition, and living with that certainty, that we are all messengers, and whatever others do for us and to us, as well as whatever we do for or to others, is all from Hashem.
When we ask Hashem here to bless us “b’or panecha,” we are, in fact, asking for only this one brachah. When we have this truth engraved in our hearts and minds, we have all we need.
The sun can shine with precisely the same strength on two homes that are next to each other. However, it is possible that one home enjoys the light and the heat immensely while in the other home there is only coldness and darkness. What is the difference between these two homes? One home has a large, unobstructed window. The other home has blinds and shades to block out the sun. Hashem always affords us the opportunity to be close to Him and, in fact, desires us to be close. However, if we do not proactively desire that closeness and do not take advantage of the great opportunity, then we have created our own obstruction to being close to Hashem. [HaRav Chaim Friedlander in his commentary on “Derech Hashem.” The mashal of the sun is based on HaRav Dessler.]
HaRav Tzadok continues: “Ha’eir panecha v’nivashei’ah (Shine Your countenance and we will be saved)” [T’hilim 80:20]. For it is through the “he’aras panim” that we will be saved. The “he’aras panim” IS the actual brachah and y’shuah.
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You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.