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 HAAZINU AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Rabbi Frand on Rosh HaShana
- 5769

More and More Ourselves
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Free at Last!
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Shofar - Past and Present
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Parashat Haazinu
Shlomo Katz - 5764

No Threats, Just Decisions
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Coming Down From On High
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

Teshuva—Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5767

Lessons from a Farewell Speech
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

> So It Is Written
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Wake Up!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Open Door Policy
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

ArtScroll

Happy New Yira
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Elul
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5755

Sowing the Seeds of Teshuva
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Must it Be the Same Old Me?
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