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Baruch She’amar 4: Rav Kook

The following is from the commentary of Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel.


“When we come to organize all that we will articulate, corresponding to all that God has made, and in order that we may achieve just part of God’s deserved praise, and in order for our speech to be able to achieve what it should achieve: We have to draw ourselves to that primal existence, because holy speech comes from there.”


He goes on to explain:


“Although we use our mouths for all kinds of speech, the speech that is Chol, or mundane, comes from a different source of existence, than does sichat kodesh, or speech that is for holy purposes. Speech for mundane purposes is diluted, or colored, or misshapen by physical existence.”


Sichat kodesh draws its existence directly from God. When you say Baruch She’amar you are trying to connect your speech to God so that it will draw its power directly from God, rather than from the place where sichat chol draws its power. Let me explain this to you. It’s so incredible! If you can do this you will be very lucky. You will notice that throughout Pesukei D’zimrah we continuously promise to praise God. We keep saying, “I will praise,” “Let us praise,” “Let us exult,” etc. But the problem is that we don’t really follow up on it. Let me show you. We’ll read in the English: “Give thanks to Hashem and declare His name.” Oh, that’s a great idea, but we don’t do it. “Search out Hashem.” Oh, let’s search Him out. But we don’t do it. Do I need to go on? Open up any chapter, any line in Pesukei D’zimrah and you’ll find that it says ‘Let’s do this and that. It ‘s great, great, great. But then you don’t do it! Why is that? Please understand: Prayer is not there to give you what it is you have to say. It’s there to flick a switch! So that you can compose your own words and your own songs! Prayer is not there just to convince you that you have something to say, or that you have the power of speech to praise God. You might say, “What do you mean that I have the power to praise God. To praise God is going to make a difference in the world?” But you have to believe it. We must connect our power of speech to the source. That is all Pesukei D’zimrah is.


I’m trying to connect my speech to a higher source. That is why in the prayers before the Shema we join with the angels in praising God. Where do we get this crazy idea that we have the audacity to join with the angels to praise God? We get that power from Pesukei D’zimrah. Pesukei D’zimrah aren’t praise of God, they are praises of the power of speech.


Where is the ultimate expression of this idea? – At the Song at the Sea. The Jews were able to take words and express the great miracle that just occurred. They all had this spirit of prophecy as they were singing. That is why the Song At The Sea is placed where it is. It is the climax of Pesukei D’zimrah. I will show you as we go through it paragraph by paragraph. It takes you through incredible levels.


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