Oseh mishpat la’ashukim, nosein lechem la’r’eivim, Hashem matir asurim.

He does justice for the exploited, He gives bread to the hungry, Hashem releases the bound.

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David HaMelech continues with his theme of Bitachon, illustrating examples of how Hashem takes care of us. We continue to notice the use of present tense in each of the examples. Our focus in this segment will be on one of the examples in this pasuk: “nosein lechem la’r’eivim (He gives bread to the hungry).”

The Midrash Rabbah explains that this phrase of “nosein lechem la’r’eivim” refers to B’nei Yisrael. The Midrash cites the pasuk in D’varim 8:3, which starts with “He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you the manna...” Is it only the hungry that Hashem feeds? The answer is that there is a difference between the rest of the nations and B’nei Yisrael. The rest of the nations received their food at once and in enough abundance to last a long time, because their food was provided only to satisfy their desires.

B’nei Yisrael, on the other hand, did not receive their food (the manna) until they were hungry and only received enough for that day. Hashem provides food to us for a higher purpose than the nations. For us, the food is meant to inspire our recognition and contemplation of Hashem’s constant kindness and power. He alone is the One Who provides each of us with exactly what we require. This is why the pasuk states that Hashem first caused us to be hungry, and only then fed us the manna and only for one day. The manna was an instrument to teach us and ingrain within us what we need most in lives: absolute trust and reliance upon Hashem in all areas of life – personally, in our family lives, in our communal lives, and in our national lives.

(Quoted in the sefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha, this segment was mostly based on Tiferes Tzion on Midrash Rabbah, Parshas Acharei Mos. Tiferes Tzion is a commentary on Midrash Rabbah authored by HaRav Benzion Yadler, a noted magid in Yerushalayim in the early to mid-1900s.)

We can remind ourselves of this priceless lesson each time we recite Birkas HaMazon. The first brachah, which was formulated by Moshe Rabbeinu, was done so as a reminder of the manna. What is the connection between the manna and the bread we just ate on which we are reciting Birkas HaMazon? Rav Shlomo Goldfinger, in an eye-opening essay, explains: Just as the manna was clearly miraculous and a great kindness, so too is the bread we eat miraculous and a great kindness from Hashem. We are so accustomed to the miracles that, unfortunately, most of us don’t even give them a thought. If we took a few minutes to contemplate all that has to happen from the time the seed is placed in the ground until the bread arrives on our table, we would be truly astounded at the miracles and kindness involved. The seed, soil, sun, ocean, clouds, wind, rain, and so many more of Hashem’s creations, including other human beings, all play a vital role in the bread arriving at our table. When we can enjoy a delicious challah – which came from a rotted seed in dirt – that is the greatest illustration of Hashem’s kindness and power. How do we know that? In previous segments, we mentioned the Gemara that states that out of all the “ki l’olam chasdo” statements (which include the Sun, the Moon, the multitude of stars, the ten makos when Hashem took us out of Egypt, K’rias Yam Suf, and more), the greatest one is “Nosein lechem l’chol basar–He [Hashem] gives [present tense] nourishment to all flesh.” Each time we recite Birkas HaMazon, we have an opportunity to strengthen our bitachon and deepen our connection and love for Hashem.

HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l points out that the key phrase in the first brachah of Birkas HaMazon is “baavur Sh’mo HaGadol, ki Hu Keil zan u’m’farneis la’kol–For the sake of His Great Name, because He is G-d Who nourishes and sustains all.” Hashem provides all this for us so that we recognize that it is only He Who provides, with powerful compassion, all of our food and sustenance. Unfortunately, it is so easy to focus totally on our enjoyment of the delicious foods Hashem provides to us, and to mindlessly speed through the entire purpose and primary benefit of the food: enhanced bitachon and deeper connection with Hashem as we recite Birkas HaMazon.

In truth, every brachah provides us with a similar opportunity. The word “Baruch” means that Hashem is the “wellspring” – the continuous source of all blessing. Every time we say the word “Baruch” (for men, over 100 times daily), we have the precious opportunity to remind ourselves that every blessing in our lives, regardless of who the worthy and wonderful messengers are, is ultimately coming to us from the One Source of all blessing. May we merit to pause and contemplate this at least once a day when we say “Baruch Atah.”

 

As part of our series on the mitzvos that make up our Yesodei HaTorah, the “foundational mitzvos,” daily recordings of approximately three minutes each day are available. Sign up by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put the word “Subscribe” in the Subject line.

 

To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments, please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,” and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.

•••

For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”


 You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.

Al tivt’chu bin’divim, b’ven adam she’ein lo s’shuah. Teitzei rucho, yashuv l’admaso, ba’yom ha’hu avdu eshtonosav. 

Do not rely on nobles, nor on a human being for he holds no salvation. When his spirit departs he returns to his earth, on that day his plans all perish.

Hallelukah, halleli nafshi es Hashem

Hallelukah! Praise Hashem, O my soul!

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Right at the outset of this series of “Hallelukahs” (T’hilim 146-150), David HaMelech teaches us that we must praise Hashem with our nefesh, our soul. Tefilah must be with our hearts and souls and not merely lip service.

Nafshi” denotes genuine desire of the soul, meaning not merely with lips but rather with a true inner urge that comes from intellectual recognition and awareness of Hashem and from the emotions of gratitude and love. In order for the praise to come from the soul, we must meditate deeply about the constant kindness of Hashem. [based on Praise, My Soul, by HaRav Avigdor Miller]

*****

Ahallelah Hashem b’chayai, azamrah leilokai b’odi

I will praise Hashem while I live; I will make music to my G-d while I exist.

There are a few understandings of this pasuk. Perhaps the Meiri is the most basic one, saying that “b’chayai” means that I will praise Hashem all my life.

The Rokei’ach says that it means that I will praise Hashem while I have my health, while “b’odi” means that I will praise Hashem while I have my strength – I will serve Hashem with all my abilities and all my strength.

The Ramban writes that “b’chayai” means that I praise Hashem through the way I live my life. When we live our lives according to the will of Hashem, this is praising Hashem with our very lives.

The Malbim has a beautiful explanation of this pasuk, where he contrasts each word of the first phrase “Ahallelah...” with each word of the second phrase “azamrah...”

Starting from the end of the phrase, “b’chayai” means we are praising Hashem for life itself. We often take for granted the precious gift of life itself. As we wake up to a new day, if we are still alive, that is a precious gift we should not take for granted.

“B’odi” in the second phrase refers to the multitude of blessings each of us has in our personal lives that Hashem has granted to us. Not only are we alive, but each of us has so many blessings in addition to being alive. We must recognize, contemplate, appreciate, and thank Hashem for His constant lovingkindness. If we were to sit down and write a gratitude list in detail for every body part and organ that is healthy and for the multitude of other blessings we enjoy, we would be writing forever and ever.

The name “Hashem” connotes Hashem’s watching over all of klal Yisrael and the world, while “Elokai” means my G-d – Hashem’s hashgachah pratis (divine providence) in my personal life.

The word “azamrah” reflects a higher form of praise than “ahallelah.” Azamrah means I will sing. Song comes from deeper in the soul than ordinary praise.

In the first phrase, we praise Hashem for life itself. Hashem is granting us life every moment we are alive. In the second phrase, we should feel a deeper connection as we are singing to Hashem for our personal connection with Hashem and for all that He has granted each of us as individuals. If we contemplate our lives, we will see Hashem’s guidance has been there through every step of our lives. This is true of our past and true of every day. Let us feel Hashem’s presence more in our lives by asking Him for the “small stuff,” as well as the large, and by thanking Him for the small and the large.

 

As part of our series on the mitzvos that make up our Yesodei HaTorah, the “foundational mitzvos,” daily recordings of approximately three minutes each day are available.  Sign up by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put the word “Subscribe” in the Subject line.

 

To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments,

please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,”

and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.

••

For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com

or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”

 

The Inspirational Essence of Chanukah

Chanukah provides us with a unique opportunity to make positive changes in our lives and to come closer to Hashem. There are numerous messages of inspiration that we can and should inculcate over Chanukah and take with us after Chanukah. To list just a few: