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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 46:

From Beis HaK’neses to Beis HaMikdash

R’tzei, Hashem Elokeinu, b’amcha Yisrael u’visfilasam

Be favorable, Hashem our G-d, toward Your people Israel and their prayer

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There are various approaches to understanding this brachah, which affect the way the words are grouped and result in different meanings as well. We continue with our understanding of the brachah of R’tzei based upon HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l in his work Tefilas Avigdor, and we present the nusach Ashkenaz because that is the nusach he presented there.

Rav Miller states that the primary intent of B’nei Yisrael in our service to Hashem is that our avodah (service) should find favor in the “eyes” of Hashem, as David HaMelech states: “To fulfill Your will, my G-d, do I desire” (T’hilim 40:9). Our greatest desire and our greatest simchah should be to perform the r’tzon Hashem, the will of Hashem.

The brachah begins with “R’tzei” and ends with “Ha’machazir…–Who restores His Presence to Zion.” Our connection to Hashem expressed here as “Sh’chinah,” which was strongest in the first Beis HaMikdash, is dependent upon the strength of our ratzon to serve Hashem. The word R’tzei is rooted in the word “la’rutz,” to run. One who has a strong desire for something either runs to attain it or at least has a strong desire to run towards it.

By engaging in tefilah, we display our passionate desire to attain closeness to Hashem and to perform Hashem’s avodah with love. We therefore ask Hashem to desire us and our avodah.

This brachah was originally composed at the time of the second Beis HaMikdash, when B’nei Yisrael were lacking in our connection to the Sh’chinah. This tefilah is asking for the intensity of the Sh’chinah of the first Beis HaMikdash to return. (Asking for the avodah to return in this brachah was later added after the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash.)

 

R’tzei, Hashem Elokeinu, b’amcha Yisrael u’visfilasam

We ask Hashem to desire us, His nation, and to desire our tefilos in place of the avodah of the Beis HaMikdash. We desire and seek closeness to Hashem and, in that merit, we ask that Hashem grant us that closeness (Sh’chinah).

 

v’hasheiv es ha’avodah li’dvir beisecha

We ask for the avodah of the most inner part of the Beis HaMikdash, the Kodesh HaKodashim (“d’vir”), to return. We ask for this first because it is the primary place of the Sh’chinah.

 

v’ishei Yisrael

This refers to the avodah of the korbanos on the outer Mizbei’ach. The avodah of the korbanos brought closeness (the word “korban” means to come close) to Hashem.

 

u’sefilasam b’ahavah s’kabeil b’ratzon

We ask Hashem to accept the avodah of our tefilah (we already asked for the actual tefilah to be accepted in the previous brachah) with desire, because our tefilah is offered with love.

 

u’s’hi l’ratzon tamid avodas Yisrael amecha

We ask Hashem to help us perform our future avodah consistently with “sh’leimus” so that it will be “desired” by Hashem.

 

Ha’machazir sh’chinaso l’Tziyon

We conclude by asking Hashem to return His Sh’chinah to Zion, thereby granting us the ultimate closeness to Hashem, where Hashem’s presence and closeness can be felt to the greatest extent. May it occur speedily in our days.

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

 

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