Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 6: "The Sequence of the Day"
Knowing that G-d listens to our prayers and changes things and
circumstances as a consequence of them, our sages set out to formulate the
very prayers that would foster the sort of effects needed, as we said
earlier (4:5:4). So let's now concentrate somewhat on what's affected by
our morning prayers.
The morning prayer service is divided into four major components, as we'd
said. The first ("korbanot") is centered on the sacrificial offerings, the
second ("p'sukei pezimrah") consists of praises of G-d, the third is
concerned with the recitation of Sh'ma Yisroel and its blessings, and the
fourth focuses upon the Sh'mone Esrei and the various prayers that follow
it. There's a lot to be said about all this, but we'll touch upon only
some of the broader purposes served by the recitation of each.
The readings centered on the sacrificial order are arranged to help us
uplift and purify the physical world (much the way a mere beast-of-burden
would be uplifted and made as pure as possible when offered in the Holy
Temple), and to remove any impediments to the world's physical and
spiritual sustenance (much the way we'd take pains to prepare our food
well enough to make it fit to eat).
The praises of G-d we enunciate in the second component serve to encourage
G-d to shine His presence upon us (which we can only appreciate once we
recognize how great and luminous He is by thanking Him for His rich
We've already explained the significance of Sh'ma Yisroel and its
blessings at great length from one perspective (see 4:4:1-12), but there's
another way of approaching it altogether. And it's based on this.
As we'd discussed early on, the universe is comprised of a series of
spiritual impetuses and infrastructures (see 1:5:3), and everything in it
plays a part in the grand sequence of events cascading downward from the
transcendent forces to the physical world.
We're taught that everything must be bound to everything else before G-d's
material and spiritual sustenance can reach them. And that happens as
follows: the most mundane of things attach themselves on to higher
entities (on some recondite level), which then attach themselves on to yet
higher entities, until the highest among them attaches themselves on to
the transcendent forces which draw their sustenance from G-d Himself. G-d
can then extend His sustenance to the transcendent forces, and they can
then pass that downward until they reach the material realm in such a way
that everything can be sustained and retain its status and function.
The point is that our recitation of the praises in the blessings before
and after Sh'ma Yisroel allow for all that to happen. And the process is
then enforced and strengthened by our recitation of the Sh'mone Esrei
prayer, which we'll discuss in the next chapter from yet another