Tefillah - 009 My G-d
When a person says “Elokeinu — Our G-d,” the halachah is that he is supposed to have in mind that Hashem is an all-capable Being.
The Vilna Gaon writes that “Our G-d” means that Hashem foresees everything in the world, which is the concept of Hashgachah Peratis (Divine Providence). The word Elokim/Elokeinu thus does not just mean “G-d,”, but itimplies man’s relationship with G-d.
What indeed is the personal relationship that a person has with Hashem? There are different terms for describing how we relate to Hashem. Elokeinu means “Our G-d,” which implies that He watches over us with Divine Providence. We also find the term “Keili,” which means “my G-d.” As Esther said, “Keili, keili, lama azavtani — My G-d, My G-d, why do You abandon me?”
The name Keil is referring to a kind of relationship with Hashem in which Hashem is revealed in a person’s heart. “This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him.” Each Jew by the splitting of the sea expressed it: Keili — My G-d. If each Jew expressed it, it must be that Keili is a kind of personal connection with Hashem. It is referring to how much of a relationship I have with Hashem, and thus it is a different level of awareness with each person.
The word Elokim refers to how much Torah has been revealed in one’s heart, because only upon revealing G-dliness can there be a true revelation of Torah. If a person only has Torah learning but he does not have G-dliness revealed in his life, this reflects what is written, “Those who grasp the Torah do not know Me.”Upon revealing Elokim — upon revealing G-dliness in one’s life — only then can there be true revelation of Torah. The first commandment is “I am Hashem your G-d,” which hints to us that first we need to have Hashem revealed in our life, and then we can have Torah.
Before the giving of the Torah, however, it was possible for a person to have a relationship with Hashem even without the revelation of Torah. This we see from the Avos, our forefathers. This reflects the term Keili, when it forms a personal attachment to Hashem. The Avos of course were connected to the Torah, but because the Torah hadn’t been revealed yet, they had the relationship of Keili towards Hashem, and not yet Elokim. Only their children, who received the Torah, had the completed revelation of Hashem, because they had the Torah revealed to them.
The giving of the Torah did not just take place by Har Sinai. Every generation needs to accept the Torah anew. This is through connecting oneself to the concept of revealing G-dliness. It is written, “The Torah of Hashem is his desire.”When a person understands that Torah is Toras Hashem — Hashem’s Torah — upon that he can receive more and more revelations of Torah.
But there is a kind of person who can “remember” lots and lots of facts of Torah, yet he has no revelation of Hashem in his life. He learns the Torah only superficially. In order to really know the Torah, to merit daas Torah, a person has to connect himself to Hashem. This is the implication of Elokeinu — Our G-d — to connect to Hashem through the Torah.
When we all stood at Sinai, each man stood with one heart. The meaning of this is that in order to accept the Torah a person needs a true heart, and this one achieves through revealing G-dliness in one’s heart — through attaching oneself to Hashem.
Another implication of Elokeinu is not about “what to have in mind” when we say Elokeinu, but rather, about what our soul feels deep down as we say Elokeinu. When we say Elokeinu, we need to feel how Hashem is our G-d — my G-d — and through revealing Hashem in our life, we have revelation of the Torah. “It is our desire to see the King.”
It is written, “All day, it [the words of Torah] is my conversation.” When a person constantly converses in Torah, this is called sichah. We find two terms in Hebrew that can mean “speech” — sichah and dibur. What is the difference? Dibur is when a person talks with purpose. Sichah is when a person talks freely. Normally, sichah is a mindless kind of talking; for example, Chazal say that “there were ten kavin [measurements] of sichah/talking that came to the world, and the women took nine kavin.” Here we find “sichah” to mean chatter. But if we constantly converse in words of Torah, our sichah becomes holy, and it becomes a kind of loose talking that is holy.
This is also the depth behind the concept of emunas chachamim (to believe our Sages). To believe in a Torah scholar’s words is not just to believe in him as a person, but to believe in the G-dliness that is revealed in him, for he is a true Torah scholar and thus a transmitter of Hashem’s word. When a person doesn’t know what to do and he goes to a rav who is a talmid chacham, he has to trust his rav, but not just because he must believe the “rav”; rather, because he should believe that the word of Hashem is revealed in the rav. We find this hinted to in the passuk, “And she [Rivkah] went to find out the word of Hashem.” When Rivkah went to Shem to ask about what will be with her childbirth, she went with the understanding that she is going to find out the word of Hashem, which is revealed through the wise.
Keili means for one to realize that life is about revealing Hashem. Elokeinu is for one to attach himself personally to that revelation. Everything in Creation is called davar, which is from the word “devar — word” — alluding to how everything in Creation contains the word of Hashem. In order to hear the “word of Hashem” in each thing, we need to connect ourselves to the concepts of Keili and Elokeinu.
Chazal say that one should daven for every detail in his life, “even for a shoelace.” This reflects the meaning of Elokeinu — to form a personal connection with Hashem, that Hashem is not just “our” God by “my” God, and thus, one can daven to Him about anything.