A Meeting of Hearts
v’dabeik libeinu b’mitzvosecha
…attach our hearts to Your commandments…
We now ask Hashem to help us attach our hearts to His mitzvos. As we have mentioned, Hashem wants our hearts and minds deeply involved in His mitzvos. Performing the actions of the mitzvos is obviously necessary, but that is not the ultimate goal. Here we are asking for the higher level of attaching our hearts and minds to the mitzvos.
It is interesting to note that we do not say l’mitzvosecha, but rather b’mitzvosecha. If we said the word with a lamed, it would mean that we want to attach our hearts and minds to Hashem’s mitzvos. However, the beis changes the meaning to in or with. The simple understanding would be that we are asking for help to put our hearts and minds into Hashem’s mitzvos, to perform them with a full heart and mind (“b’chol l’vavcha,” as we say in Shema).
Perhaps we can suggest that we also ask to feel the d’veikus with Hashem through (with) our mitzvos. As we have discussed in Ahavah Rabah 2 and elsewhere, the purpose of all of the mitzvos is d’veikus with Hashem. The more we think about Hashem, His Torah, and His mitzvos, the more attached we become. The more heart and mind we put into our mitzvos, the greater d’veikus we have with Hashem. Thus, we can utilize both meanings of the “beis” in these powerful three words: Help us to attach our hearts/minds into (performing) Your mitzvos (so that) we can come closer to You with Your mitzvos.
This brachah was composed by the Anshei K’neses HaG’dolah, which was made up of many N’viim and early Tana’im. As we have mentioned previously, HaRav Chaim Volozhin (Ruach Chaim, Avos 1:2) states that whatever we think into the words of our tefilos that were composed by the Anshei K’neses HaG’dolah, already were included through prophecy. Each person may daven according to his personal understanding. This allows us great latitude in personalizing our tefilos, which certainly aids our kavanah and heart. So while we have not yet found any previous source for this second understanding of “b’mitzvosecha,” we have license to include that in our tefilah.
Unified Against Our “Friend” – the Yeitzer HaRa
v’yacheid l’vaveinu l’ahavah u’l’yir’ah es sh’mecha
…and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name
We ask Hashem to unify our hearts (in the plural) to a single goal to love and fear His Name. This means that all of our thoughts, words, and actions in life should have one unified, designated purpose – to love Hashem and to love Him so much that we are afraid to say or do anything that would cause damage to His honor in the world. This is why we say fear after we say love. The levels are fear of punishment (not included in our phrase), love, and, ultimately, fear of His exaltedness and of committing any sin, which causes damage to His honor and His world. This highest level stems from loving Hashem so much that we cannot fathom doing anything that would cause damage to His honor or world.
We are asking here to eventually reach the level where everything we say and do is purely to serve Hashem and not to fulfill our own personal desires.
The plural language is used here for heart. This indicates serving Hashem with both the yeitzer ha’tov and the yeitzer ha’ra. We serve Hashem through the yeitzer ha’ra by not listening to his seductions and attempts to get us to sin. The following are excerpts from an article that appeared in Mishpacha Magazine, written by Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz on the mitzvah of Yichud Hashem (see also Ahavah Rabah 3) [credit to reprint was granted by Mishpacha Magazine]:
When the enemy is on your side, it’s a win-win situation!
Do you know your enemy? How would you describe the yeitzer ha’ra? Evil, cunning, relentless? The Creator says otherwise. “And G-d saw all that He had created, and behold it was tov m’od, very good.” The Midrash expounds that “tov” is the yeitzer ha’tov; “tov m’od” is the yeitzer ha’ra.
How do we reach perfection? Everything in Hashem’s world leads toward this goal: Torah study, mitzvah performance, life circumstances – and, surprisingly, the yeitzer ha’ra itself! There is no growth without challenge; there is no perfection without struggle. The difficult child teaches us patience, the rigors of earning a parnasah train us in bitachon, a neighbor’s insulting remark tests our self-control, and the temptation to lie or cheat flexes our honesty muscles. Everything in our lives was sent to us by Hashem to push us to grow, achieve, and attain perfection. Without that stubborn child, without parnasah difficulties and other ordeals, we would not be as refined, as humble, and as “connected” to our Creator.
This is why it is the yeitzer ha’ra, of all creations, that is referred to as “tov m’od.” It is he who prods us along the path to eternal life. He may seem like our enemy, but he is not really engaged in a battle against us. As incredible as it sounds, in a sense, he is actually on our side. He would be better described as our coach and, perhaps, even our cheerleader.
Recently, an e-mail circulated, titled, “A Letter from the Yeitzer HaRa.” Here is an excerpt:
Most people think that my job is to make sure that they fail in all aspects of mitzvos, and that I rejoice every time they sin. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Did you ever watch a boxing coach train his student? The coach will put on gloves and fight against him. At first, he won’t hit him so hard, or throw his best punches. But, as the student gets better and better, the coach will start to fight him harder and harder. He does this so that the student will improve his skills and become the best boxer he can be. This is where it gets strange. Every time the coach knocks down the student, he yells at him! And when the student knocks the coach down, there is nobody in the world happier than the coach himself!
The yeitzer ha’ra is not an external force opposed to Hashem; it is Hashem’s messenger, a mal’ach created by Hashem to help us grow. As Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz puts it: When you feel tempted to sin, don’t imagine that the yeitzer ha’ra is telling you, “Sin!” Instead, listen for his true voice: The yeitzer ha’ra is saying, “Overcome my temptation; defeat me!” Indeed, Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that when we hurl the sa’ir lazazel off the cliff, we are declaring that the purpose of the yeitzer ha’ra is to be dismembered. Like the boxing coach, he is happiest when you knock him down, for this is his true mission.
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