Tefillah - 015 Inheritance From The Avos & Dovid HaMelech
Our Avodah – Revealing G-dliness On The World
הא-ל – Hashem is called “Keil”, (Almighty), and this is referring to His middas harachamim (attribute of mercy). As Esther said, “Keili, Keili (My Almighty, My Almighty), why do You abandon me?”
Hashem is also called Keil Sha-dai; the word “dai” means “Enough”, which hints to how Hashem created the world until He said “Enough”, whereupon He stopped expanding Creation. What is the understanding of this concept?
Hashem created us with His tzelem elokim, In His form. This implies that man needs to reveal from within himself how he is a tzelem elokim. Man is a tzelem, a form, which exists to reveal Hashem. This is entire avodah – to reveal our tzelem elokim, to reveal Hashem on this world.
What We Inherited From The Avos
Our good middos, which we all share, is the part in us which we all received from the Avos. These are the middos of kindness (received from Avraham Avinu), shame\fear (Yitzchok Avinu), and compassion (Yaakov Avinu). These middos are the embodiment of the Jewish people.
Our Individual Role
We inherited good middos from each of the Avos, but we are not the Avos. All people are different from each other, as Chazal say, in spite of the fact that we all come from the Avos and that we all possess the middos of the Avos. The fact that we all differ from each other in our ways of thinking is the part in us which we did not get from the Avos.
Each of us thinks differently, thus, each of us has our own individual role. Although we all come from the Avos, we are also 600,000 different souls.
Therefore, each of us reveals Hashem in a different way. There are 3 Avos, and the 12 tribes branched out from the three Avos. The rest of us are the 600,000 souls who branch out from this.
Our Two-Fold Mission
Our avodah is to reveal how each of us are really all one and the same, since we all come from the Avos and possess the good middos of the Avos. But each of us also has an individual role in revealing Hashem. The name Keil of Hashem refers to the individual aspect, for Keil alludes to how Hashem said “Enough” to the general whole of Creation - a hint to how each Creation must uncover its own individuality.
What We Received From Moshe Rabbeinu
In addition to the Avos, we also inherited a power from Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu was the one who aroused compassion for the Jewish people by the sin with the Golden Calf. He beseeched Hashem and evoked the 13 Attributes of Mercy. This reflects a concept that even when there is sin going on, we are still deserving of Hashem’s mercy. Chazal say “A Jew, even when he sins, is still a Jew.” This concept is reflected through the 13 Attributes of Mercy which Hashem arouses to forgive us from our sins. Moshe Rabbeinu was the one who revealed this power onto the world.
This is a power that can be revealed even when a person is in a lowly situation – that no matter how low of a situation a person is in, even if he is in the lowest state of shiflus (lowliness), he can still arouse Hashem’s mercy.
Dovid HaMelech also expresses throughout sefer Tehillim that a person can reveal Hashem precisely from his lowly situation, from his shiflus. Dovid HaMelech came from Rus, who was from Moav, the lowliest nation. People questioned his status; people suspected that he wasn’t even Jewish, or that he descended from mamzer status.He was in a lowly situation, yet, he praises Hashem amidst the lowly situation he is in. Dovid HaMelech revealed how even amongst shiflus, a person can reveal Hashem. Also, Dovid HaMelech came from Yehuda, whose mother was Leah, and Leah was the one who revealed Hashem amidst her painful situation of feeling unimportant.
The Avos revealed the traits of chessed, yirah, and emes. Dovid HaMelech revealed how a person can reveal Hashem even from amidst a lowly situation. The Avos revealed Hashem through a situation of spiritual ascent, while Dovid HaMelech revealed Hashem even amidst lowliness, even amidst when we feel lowly in our personal situation.
Of course, the Avos also had difficulties. But they revealed Hashem amidst their qualities. But Dovid HaMelech revealed Hashem in spite of the fact that he was considered lowly.
We inherited both of these qualities – we inherited the quality to reveal Hashem from our inherent middos of chessed, yirah, and emes, which come from the Avos - as well as the ability to reveal Hashem even when we are in a dismal period.
Our generation is the lowliest situation there ever was. Yet, precisely in a low generation like this, we are able to reveal Hashem more than ever! This is because Dovid HaMelech revealed that Hashem can be revealed even when we are amidst lowliness and sin. The power of Dovid HaMelech – revealing Hashem amidst lowliness – is the power we can use to get by this dismal period we are in the history of Klal Yisrael.
Right now, we are in the lowest situation there ever was. At the same time, there is no generation which cannot reveal Hashem, and in fact, it is precisely our generation which can reveal Hashem, even more than in the previous generations.
Revealing Hashem In Today’s Lowly Situation
How, indeed, are we able to reveal Hashem in a lowly situation such as nowadays?
The Avos had 3 middos, and Moshe revealed the 13 middos of rachamim, after the sin of the Calf. The depth of this is that precisely from our lowly situation of sinning with the Calf - which was a great fall from our spiritual level – we are able to arouse Hashem’s mercy.
An older person tends to be more compassionate on others than a younger person; Chazal say, “An elderly person is full of compassion.” The simple understanding of this is that a younger person is more excitable. But the depth is because a young person feels like he is a part of this world; he feels that this world “Is everything.” But an older person can feel already that he is not part of this world, that his existence transcends this physical planet earth we are on. (This is referring to a person who is old and mature in his daas, not just in his years.)
A young person sees life from the prism of his physical life, while an older and wiser person sees life from above life. “A prisoner cannot free himself from jail” – but a person who has matured in his soul can see life from above himself. An older person doesn’t get excited so easily about things he used to get excited about when he was younger, because he has a different perspective on things now.
When a person thinks that he lives for this world, he cannot free himself from the immature perspective. But when a person gains a deeper perspective, he can stand on the outside of his life and view from his “outside” perspective, and have a whole different perspective about life. If a person thinks that he is a part of this world that he lives in, he will not be able to mature in his spirituality.
The lifestyle of today’s generation is not a kind of life which we should be connected to. It is a very lowly situation. But as we know, we can reveal Hashem even amidst lowliness. Dovid HaMelech was from Rus, a convert, from the nation Moav, a lowly nation. But he also comes from Yehuda, and he is the ancestor of Moshiach. Dovid HaMelech’s lowly situation is the root of redemption – that greatness can be revealed from amidst lowliness.
Dovid HaMelech is both from the Avos as well as from Rus; he needed to come from both in order to reach his potential. On one hand, Dovid comes from our Avos, and he was the fourth leg in Hashem’s Throne, next to the three Avos. On the other hand, he has humble beginnings – he comes from Rus, a convert and Moabite, as well as from Lot.
Balancing These Two Aspects Together In Our Life
We need to combine both our abilities we received from the three Avos as well as what we received from Dovid HaMelech [and Moshe Rabbeinu]. On one hand, we must separate from the lifestyle of the generation, and in this way, we can resemble the Avos. At the same time, we can reveal Hashem in spite of the lowly situation going on today, which is the power of Dovid HaMelech.
We need to balance out these two aspects of life; the fine balance between these two aspects is the true kind of life.
This world is a mixture of good and evil, and it is mostly evil. Therefore, we must separate from its lifestyle. But at the same time, we must have a deep love all Jews. This is the way our life is supposed to look like. (How exactly to do this is a different discussion. But this is the general outline.)
This is the meaning of הא-ל in Shemoneh Esrei – to be able to say “Enough”, just as Hashem said “Enough” to stop creating the world.
By the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbeinu davened for the Jewish people to be saved. He was willing to get erased from existence, unlike Noach, who is criticized for not davening to save the generation. At the same time, he commanded the people to kill out everyone who committed the sin with the Calf. This was because he was balanced. He had a deep love for the entire Jewish people, yet he was also able to separate himself from evil when he had to and expel it.
May we merit to live with both of these deep abilities simultaneously – the ability to reveal Hashem amidst the lowly situation of today’s world, along with our ability to remain individual and separate from all the evil surroundings, “alone” with Hashem.