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Shemoneh Esrei 37

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Shemoneh Esrei 37

 

ולירושלים עירך ברחמים תשוב

And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion

Following our tefilah for the tzadikim, we daven for Yerushalayim, the only place where tzadikim can reach the highest heights of their glory (Megilah 17b).  The word “Yerushalayim” is a contraction of the words “יראה–yir’ah” and “שלם–shaleim.”  The highest level of the combination of יראת הרוממות (yir’as ha’rom’mus – the awareness of the awesomeness of the exaltedness of Hashem), representing the height of the relationship between man and Hashem, and אחדות (achdus, representing the height of the relationship between man and man), with sh’leimus–perfection (meaning peace and harmony among men), can only be reached in Yerushalayim.  Yerushalayim is the point on the globe that is closest (spiritually) to Shamayim, enabling the soul to soar to the loftiest heights (HaRav Avrohom Chaim Feuer, based on B’reishis Rabbah 56:10, Ri ben Yakar, Maharsha Kiddushin 69a).

Sefer Chareidim tells us that we were expelled from Yerushalayim because we wearied of living in such close proximity to Hashem, not desiring the constant scrutiny.  Therefore, we can only return if we yearn for that intimate bond with Hashem attainable only through living in his presence in Yerushalayim.  When reciting this brachah, we should attempt to arouse such feelings of intense yearning.  [HaRav Feuer]

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ולירושלים עירך ברחמים תשוב ותשכון בתוכה כאשר דברת

And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return in compassion, and may You rest within it, as you have spoken

 We begin by asking Hashem to return His Sh’chinah to Yerushalayim and to the Beis HaMikdash with “רחמים–rachamim (compassion).”  HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l explains the need for the word “rachamim” in two ways.  First, we ask that Hashem not wait until we actually deserve the return of His Sh’chinah (HaRav Miller says the primary kavanah of “תשוב–tashuv” is for the Sh’chinah to return to Yerushalayim) based on our own merits, but rather that His Sh’chinah return immediately because of His compassion.  Secondly, we ask for Hashem’s compassion in light of all the tzaros we have had throughout all these years in galus.  We ask that our acceptance and tolerance of these tzaros, which we have all experienced, arouse great rachamim from Hashem for His nation, resulting in the return of His Sh’chinah to Yerushalayim and to the Beis HaMikdash.  (“ותשכון בתוכה–v’sishkon b’sochah–and may You rest within it” refers to the Beis HaMikdashsefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha, quoting the Bach at the end of siman 118).

The brachah concludes with “בונה ירושלים–bonei Yerushalayim,” which is present tense.  Why do we describe Hashem as actually building Yerushalayim now?

In the Siddur HaGra, the Siach Yitzchak explains that the ending of the brachos in Shemoneh Esrei are in present tense because Hashem is continuously granting us these requests.  For example, he points to “גואל ישראל–Go’eil Yisrael” as an example, stating that we ask Hashem to see our pain and suffering because we understand that Hashem gives us  tzaros as corrective “punishment” so that we can reach the g’ulah sh’leimah.  He says that these tzaros will actually be the cause of the g’ulah!  Hashem is continuously working on our g’ulah, hence the present tense.  The same holds true for our brachah of “ולירושלים עירך ברחמים תשוב.”  Hashem is constantly adding “bricks” to the rebuilding of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash, as we will, b’ezras Hashem, expand upon in the next segment.  Therefore, the conclusion is in present tense.

 

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