And they shall contemplate the kindnesses of Hashem

Independence Day is just over, but our appreciation of the blessings we have merited is ongoing.

Rabbi Ariel Levi

Judaism Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron
Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron
צילום: עצמי

Our Sages taught that prayer is "work of the heart". We are commanded to make an effort to pray from the deepest and innermost levels of the soul.

The text of the Siddur, which was instituted by the Men of the Great Assembly through Divine inspiration, may not be altered. But we may add our personal heartfelt requests. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov praised the type of prayer which emanates from the heart. This type of prayer is characterized not only by requests to Hashem, but by praise and recognition of His kindnesses.

On the eve of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, zt"l, used to expound on the verse "He who is wise will keep these in mind, and will ponder the kindnesses of Hashem" (Psalms 107:43). He explained that the ability to recognize Hashem's goodness is a gift which not everyone merits. 

We have merited to have been born into an era filled with blessings, and we do not always know how to appreciate the goodness which surrounds us. The wise among will want to learn about the previous generations' experiences, to enable them to gain a deeper perspective of the great miracles and wonders which Hashem did for us. The ability to appreciate our blessings is a vital component in achieving closeness to the Divine.

Sometimes we focus on the negative, and struggle with disillusionment. This makes it all the more important for us to actively contemplate Hashem's kindnesses with a joyous heart, while at the same time continuing to hope for a time when Hashem will "restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as before," and we will merit to a kingdom of Torah in Eretz Yisrael. 

My friend Rav Shachar Shmuel Sasson, HY"D, showed me a prayer of thanksgiving written by Rav Ezra Tzion Melamed. This prayer was written in honor of the first Yom Ha'atzmaut which was celebrated in 1949 and printed in his Sefer, "Pirkei Minhag veHalacha" which was published in 1954. This book exudes expressions of appreciation for Hashem's great kindnesses and expresses hope that we will be blessed with a spirit of holiness and purity leading to the ultimate geula (redemption ).

"For the miracles, and for the salvation, and for the mighty deeds, and for the victories and for the wonders and consolations which You performed for our forefathers, in those days, at this time."

"You are the God Who awakened our fathers' hearts to return to the mountain of Your inheritance, to dwell in it and to rebuild its ruins and to work its earth."

And when the evil government (the British) locked the gates of our land to keep out the remnants of the cruel enemies' sword (the Nazis), You swept away his empire and freed the land from his rule. 

And when (Arab) enemies rose against us to destroy us,  You, in Your might, struck them with terror and fear, until they fled outside the borders of our land.

And when the seven nations came to conquer our land and enslave us, You, in Your great compassion, stood to the right of the Israel Defense Forces and delivered the strong into the hands of the weak; the many into the hands of the few; the wicked into the hands of the righteous. With Your outstretched Arm, You helped the sons of Israel to expand the borders of our land and bring our brothers home from the camps of death.

And for all this we thank You, Hashem our God, with a bowed head.

And at this time, the time of our celebration and joy, we stretch out our hands and beseech You on behalf of our dispersed brothers, and ask that they be gathered to dwell in Israel in peace and tranquility.

Widen the borders of our land as You promised our fathers, from the Euphrates to the Nile.

Rebuild Your holy city, Yerushalayim, and rebuild Your Mikdash within.

And just as we merited to witness the beginnings of the blossoming of our redemption, so may we merit the complete redemption in our days.   


 Rabbi Levi heads the Kollel in the Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron.