The Weekly Tefilah Focus is now concentrating on a review of the brachos in Shemoneh Esrei of Binyan Yerushalayim, Malchus Beis David, and the Avodah to prepare ourselves to properly contemplate on a daily basis our loss of the open presence of the Sh’chinah and the Beis HaMikdash, and to express our longing for the coming of Mashiach and the return of the Sh’chinah to the Third and final Beis HaMikdash – may we merit so, speedily in our days. We will, b’ezras Hashem, resume with Az Yashir after Tish’ah B’Av, should we have to experience another one this year.

Shemoneh Esrei 38-39:

Are We Ready to Answer YES?

Es tzemach David avd’cha m’heirah satzmiach…

The offspring of your servant David may You speedily cause to flourish, and enhance his pride through Your salvation, for we hope for Your salvation all day long

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Before we begin to discuss this brachah in detail, allow us to explain why we should be especially careful to pause before beginning this brachah (the Chofetz Chaim actually suggests that we do this with every brachah in the Shemoneh Esrei) and why we should attempt to arouse our hearts now to an even greater level than we have up to this point in Shemoneh Esrei.

The Yaaros Devash [Rav Yonasan Eibeschutz, 1690-1764] exhorts every Jew to shed an endless stream of bitter tears while reciting the brachos of Bonei Yerushalayim and Es tzemach. Why?

One of the first questions we will be asked on our day of judgment is “Tzipisa liy’shuah” (Shabbos 31a), did we anticipate and yearn for the Salvation? The Shaarei T’shuvah (siman 118, towards the end of s’if katan 1, quoting from the Arizal) says that when one recites the words “ki liy’shuascha kivinu kol ha’yom,” he should have kavanah to be able to answer this question affirmatively. Great tzadikim live constantly throughout their lives with “Tzipisa.” For the rest of us, the Shaarei T’shuvah is advising us that availing ourselves of proper intent as we recite THIS phrase in THIS brachah is our best opportunity to be able to answer: YES, we did long for Mashiach on a daily basis. While there are other ways that we can fulfill “Tzipisa,” most of us will need to refer to our kavanah in THIS phrase in THIS brachah to answer YES to this question on our day of judgment.

The Arizal says that one should have kavanah in this phrase from the depths of his heart – so that he not be embarrassed and disgraced on the day of judgment when he is asked “Tzipisa liy’shuah?” The following is the translation of a quote from the Arizal, as quoted in the sefer Tal’lei Oros:

With these words one should concentrate to yearn for the Salvation, in order that he will be able to reply on the Day of Judgment when he will be asked, “Did you yearn for the Salvation?” Therefore, one should concentrate very much from the walls of his heart with the following thoughts: “I am anticipating and yearning every day for the salvation of the holy Divine Presence to leave the Diaspora, and that You shall redeem us as well with the coming of Your Mashiach, and that You shall make [King] David’s pride to flourish.” And surely He Who examines hearts and thoughts, He sees the expectations and hopes of each person, what passion lies in his heart – therefore one should anticipate with great and very powerful passion, so that he will not be embarrassed and disgraced when asked, “Did you yearn for the Salvation?”

Torah, baruch Hashem, has flourished to amazing heights, and though many do struggle financially, compared to earlier times, most here in America are “wealthy” on a comparative basis. We have never had the Beis HaMikdash in our time. We really don’t know or appreciate what the g’ulah will look like. How can we long for and anxiously await the “Y’shuah” and be emotional enough to even cry over Yerushalayim, the Beis HaMikdash, and the Y’shuah if we are so distant from it? Do we feel we are lacking so much that we are brought to tears? So what are we missing and why should we be “shedding an endless stream of bitter tears”? Next week, b’ezras Hashem, we will discuss this difficult challenge that we face today.

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman in “Why We Weep” (a collection of essays by various rabbanim, which is, in my opinion, a must-have for the Three Weeks and Tish’ah B’Av) cites the Gemara in Z’vachim (24a), which credits David HaMelech for building the Beis HaMikdash. The obvious question that Tosafos asks is that we know that David’s son, Shlomo HaMelech, actually is the one who built the Beis HaMikdash. Tosafos answers that the Gemara meant that David is the one who gave the Beis HaMikdash its k’dushah. What does that mean?

Shlomo built and gave k’dushah to the physical Beis HaMikdash – the wood, stones, gold, silver, etc. But David is the heart and soul of the Beis HaMikdash (and of klal Yisrael); he had the cheishek and the t’shukah – the desire and yearning – forming the p’nimiyus of the Beis HaMikdash. He raised money and did whatever he could, even though he knew he would not be the one to actually build the physical structure. The essence of the Beis HaMikdash was not the physical structure, but rather the p’nimiyus, the heart and soul that came from David HaMelech’s great ratzon and t’shukah. The Beis HaMikdash was THE place to go to and connect with Hashem. The desire and longing to connect with Hashem was realized, to the greatest extent possible, in the Beis HaMikdash.

The physical structure of the Bayis Sheini, the second Beis HaMikdash, is gone forever. The structure of the Bayis Sh’lishi, the third and final Beis HaMikdash will be a different structure. What is still alive? It is the p’nimiyus, the cheishek, the t’shukah, and the ratzon with which, over the generations of this galus, we have wept for the Bayis Sh’lishi. Through our heart and tears, we are rebuilding the p’nimiyus of the Beis HaMikdash. It is the inner yearning to connect on a closer level to our Creator for which we weep. This desire and yearning to connect on a closer level is what we must rebuild within ourselves. “Ki li’yshu’ascha kivinu kol ha’yom” is our daily opportunity to work on this inner desire and be able to sincerely answer the Tzipisa question with “YES, I did anxiously wait for and long for the rebuilding of the p’nimiyus and physical Bayis Sh’lishi, where we will, b’ezras Hashem, experience the ultimate closeness with Hashem.

Perhaps we can now appreciate to a greater extent the advice of the Yaaros Devash to shed an endless stream of bitter tears while reciting the brachos of “Bonei Yerushalayim” and “Es tzemach” (Yaaros Devash, mentioned by HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer in “Shemoneh Esrei,” ArtScroll/Mesorah).

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