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Thought for the Day: The Order of the Brachos of Shmone Esrei

In ma'amar 3, paragraph 21, the Chacham explains to the Kuzari king the order of our brachos in shmone esrei.  I always like to find new insights into shmone esrei, as it helps me to keep some semblance of focus on my davening.  I also found this interesting because the ordering seems so logical that I can have it in mind while davening... helping me to remember where I am, how I got here, and where I am headed.

The first three brachos are simply (hah! simply, he says) to get our attention as we realize before Whom we are standing and making our petitions.  Then we are ready to make our supplications.

Our purpose of being in this world is to establish, strengthen, and deepen our relationship with the Ein Sof -- the One who presents Himself as HaShem/Elokim/HaKodosh Baruch Hu in this world.  That relationship is built and mediated by our seichel (intelligence/common sense), so the first supplication is for intelligence, understanding, and knowledge (chonein ha'da'as).  Of course, as we become more aware of our Creator and therefore our lack of ability to live up to the Truth we are now experiencing, we ask to be granted the ability to do t'shuva/return (ha'rotzeh b'tshuva).  The goal of our t'shuva is to merit HaShem's forgiveness and pardon, so we ask for that next (chanun ha'marbei blislo'ach).  At that point, we are ready to ask to be redeemed from the suffering we have been enduring due to our sins (go'el yisrael).

Having established our purpose and removed the impediments, it is time to ask for the tools we need.  First, we need a sound spirit and body (rofei cholei ahmo yisrael).  Then we need the funds to keep ourselves that way (m'vareich ha'shanim).

As explained in Derech HaShem, the Creator wants more than individual contributors, He wants a nation dedicated to His service.  Therefore we need build communities of Jews (m'kabeitz nidchei yisrael).  As our communities grow, we need administration (melech oheiv tz'daka u'mishpat).  Creating a perfect community requires also separating out those who have their own agenda are are only joining for selfish reasons (shoveir oy'vyim u'machni'ah zeidim).  By the same token, those who want to grow and perfect themselves and the community need heavenly support (mishan u'mivtach la'tzadikim).

In order to bring the world to its ultimate goal, klal yisrael needs to operate in eretz yisrael, whose focus is the Yerushalayim (bonei y'rushalayim).  We then want to experience the Divine Presence as palpably as face to face, which means taking leadership from the scion of Dovid (matzmi'ach keren y'shu'ah).  Once we are fully functioning and fulfilling our our role to perfection, then we want the entire world to experience its ultimate purpose (ha'mach'ahzir sh'chinato l'tzion).

We then end our meeting with thanks for all that the goodness we have experienced and continue to experience (ha'tov shimcha u'lcha na'eh l'hodos).  And then we part in shalom (ha'm'vareich es ahmo yisrael ba'shalom).

The Chacham also tells the king that we daven with a group because it is very difficult for any one individual to keep his mind completely focussed for the entire prayer, but in a group, you have a complete t'fila.


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