Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today is the 10th of Tamuz, 5770

"God, who is great, powerful and awe-inspiring." These words of the first Berakha of the Amida are really exceptional. Why? Because we normally praise God by referring to what He does for us: Ozer, Moshia, Magen, helps, saves, protects, etc. We never refer or describe anything about haShem HIMSELF.

Our rabbis were very reluctant to do so because no matter what we would say, we would always fall short from praising God Almighty. Take the word "powerful." Can this word, which we use to describe a car (what a powerful engine!) or the president of an important company (a "powerful" man!) etc., be enough to describe haShem's infinite power and might?

We believe that describing God's 'power' or 'greatness' is absolutely beyond our human capability or vocabulary. Therefore, any praise that we would say about God HIMSELF would be actually considered an (involuntary) offense…

The rabbis therefore were hesitant to authorize the use of these words and the only reason they allowed us to say these attributes is because Moshe Rabbenu said them (Ekeb).
"Had Moshe not pronounced these attributes and had not the men of the Great assembly ordained this in our prayers, we would be unable to say it" (Berakhot 33b)

In a sense, we are not actually daring to describe God's attributes, we are just reiterating Moshe Rabbenus' 's words.

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