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Morning Blessings: Adon Olam: Beginnings

The first moment matters. We are affected by first impressions. The opening words of a conversation will set its tone. Why do we begin our morning conversations with God by addressing Him as Adon Olam – Master of the Universe?

It cannot be coincidental that the Sages used the same appellation to begin the Amidah: “Adon-ai, sifatai tiftach.”

The Mishna (Tamid 3:2) describes the order of the daily service in the Beit Hamikadash. The Kohanim would be up quite early, ready to begin the Morning Daily Offering at the first possible moment. The head of the shift  would call out, “Go out and see whether the time for slaughtering the offering has reached us!”  If the sun had begun to rise they would respond, “It bursts forth!”  Matia ben Shmuel says that the head of the shift would then say, “Is the entire Eastern horizon lit all the way to Hebron?”

Why did they mention Hebron at the beginning of the service? They referred to Hebron to recall the merit of Abraham who is buried there.

We see that they would go out of their way to mention Abraham at the beginning of the Temple service, as the verse says, “As for me, through Your abundant kindness I will enter Your house.” (Psalms 5:8) We approach God calling on His attribute of kindness, personified by Abraham.

Abraham used his acts of kindness to teach people about the true Master of the Universe: From the day that the Holy One, Blessed is He, created His world there was none who referred to Him as “Adon,” – Master – until Abraham, who said, “My Master, with what shall I know?” (Genesis 15:8)

Even Daniel was not answered by God until he connected with the merit of Abraham, “ And now, hear our Lord, the prayers of Your servant, for the sake of my Master.” (Daniel 9:17) Daniel should have said “for Your sake,” why did he say, “the sake of My Master?” He was calling on the merit of Abraham who was the first to refer to God as Master.  (Maggid Tzedek of Rabbi Pinchas of Polochek, a student of the Vilna Gaon.)

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