There is a short but very powerful pasuk we say each morning in Shacharis. Rav Efrem Goldberg, Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, quoted a Kaf HaChayim, which said that if one says this pasuk 45 times, it is as if he said Amen 90 times. Some strive to respond Amen to 90 brachos daily. The Kaf HaChayim wrote that he personally recites this pasuk 45 times each morning in order to make sure he has fulfilled his 90-Amen goal. At the current time, since we are not able to go to shul, which is where the overwhelming majority of the 90 Amens would normally come from, reciting this pasuk 45 times would seem to provide a great opportunity for those who are careful to get their 90 Amens.
You may be wondering what this mystery pasuk is. We actually recite this pasuk every day in Shacharis immediately after the last Hallelukah. The original source of this pasuk is that it is the last pasuk of chapter 89 of T’hilim. The pasuk reads: “Baruch Hashem l’olam, Amen v’Amen.” I have been saying this pasuk for likely over 50 years, and I must confess that I did not appreciate how powerful it is.
I have not been one to target the 90 Amens, but after hearing about this, especially under the current circumstances, I decided to try it one day. First, I wanted to better understand its full meaning. I turned to Siddur Tefilas Avigdor and discovered one of the many gems in our tefilos and in HaRav Avigdor Miller’s commentary on the Siddur. We know that “baruch Hashem” means that Hashem is THE source of all the blessings in our lives. “L’olam” means both constant and eternal. We are praising and thanking Hashem for providing the multitude of blessings in our lives that we enjoy minute after minute, day after day, and year after year, as well as the lovingkindness that Hashem will grant us, b’ezras Hashem, for eternity. As an example of the constant goodness on this world, I personally have discovered a newfound appreciation for being able to take a pleasurable deep breath these days. HaRav Avigdor Miller would take a deep, full breath before reciting the words “v’al nishmoseinu ha’p’kudos lach” in Modim of Shemoneh Esrei – “and for our souls that are deposited with You.” He was way ahead of his time. How appreciative we should be every day that we can take a full, deep breath.
There was a gathering in Europe of rabbanim. One rav, upon reaching the floor that his room was on, overheard another guest behind closed doors thanking Hashem for many ordinary things, and he just kept going. In the morning, he asked the desk clerk who had stayed in Room 108. The clerk said it had been the Chafetz Chaim.
On another occasion, HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky related that when he was a youth, he stayed overnight in an inn. Very early in the morning, he heard the man in the next room start to say “Nishmas” sweetly, with great enthusiasm and emotion, translating each word into Yiddish, until he erupted into a spontaneous bout of profuse weeping. HaRav Abramsky was completely shaken up. The following day, he found out that his neighbor was none other than the Chafetz Chaim. As was his custom, the Chafetz Chaim would express his heartfelt gratitude to Hashem for all His innumerable kindnesses.
The first Amen in our pasuk is an affirmation that the statement we just made – that Hashem is the source of all blessings constantly and for eternity – is true. The second Amen (“v’Amen”) is a request that ALL of creation will thank and praise Hashem similarly and for eternity, and an affirmation that this is what will indeed occur, hopefully very soon, b’ezras Hashem. What powerful messages David HaMelech contained in just a few words!
Gratitude has always been, and still is, one of the most, if not THE most, direct routes to happiness. Thanking Hashem as often as we can is one of our purposes in this world; it will bring us closer to Hashem, and it will enhance our joy in life. Even the secular world has recognized this. If you Google techniques to become a happier person, you will find gratitude on almost every list, and you will find it occupying the top spot in many if not most. Whether you target 90 Amens or not, saying this pasuk periodically throughout the day, with mind and heart, will be a fulfillment of the mitzvah of learning Torah and the mitzvah of thanking Hashem. It will bring you closer to Hashem, and it will create an inner feeling of joy.
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