Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Impossible to Praise: Understanding the First Three Brachos of Shemoneh Esrei

Heaping Praise

Reuven was reciting Shemoneh Esrei out loud. Rebbi Chanina happened to overhear him and noticed that he was adding to the standard wording of the prayer. "Blessed is the G-d Who is great, powerful, awesome, mighty, courageous, feared, strong, brave, absolute and honored …”

Rebbi Chanina waited until Reuven finished. Afterwards he asked him, “Have you completed saying all of the praises of Hashem?! It is impossible to praise Him sufficiently!”

"If so," questioned Reuven, “why does the Shemoneh Esrei refer to Hashem as 'great, powerful and awesome’? If we are permitted to use these adjectives, why can't we use more?"

Rebbi Chanina replied: "Moshe Rabbeinu set the precedent, using these three words when he spoke to Hashem [Devarim 10,17]. Had he not used these praises beforehand, it would be audacious for us to apply them to Hashem. The Great Assembly later incorporated this phrase into the wording of Shemoneh Esrei."

Reuven thought about what Rebbi Chanina said and responded, "I understand that we are incapable of praising Hashem sufficiently. But is there anything wrong with trying to do what we can?"

Rebbi Chanina responded: "Our praise to Hashem implies deficiency. Let me offer the following analogy. If a king had a million coins of gold, and someone praised him for his silver, wouldn't that be considered a disgrace! G-d's greatness is far beyond the capability of human lips to describe, and we should not do injustice to it by attempting to describe it" (Brachos 33b).

The first part of Shemoneh Esrei is dedicated to praising Hashem in accordance with the formula established by the Great Assembly. The halacha considers the first of these blessings to be one of the most crucial parts of Shemoneh Esrei, and complete concentration is mandatory. Let us try to understand these three blessings.


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Heavenly Protection
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

A New Perspective
Shlomo Katz - 5768

To Fergin or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Light Over Darkness
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5768

Leaving Ya’akov For Yisroel
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Chanukah, Chutzpah, and Coming Close to G-d
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

ArtScroll

The Merit of 20 Years of Honest Work Surpassed the Merit of the Forefathers
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

A Spiritual Holiday
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Chanukah: A Postscript
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Chanukah Oil: A Real No-Know
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Chanukah: Lights, Camera, Action!
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

Lessons in Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

> Be Patient!
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Shehechiyanu in Bergen Belsen
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

The Inns and Outs of Galus
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information