Blessings of Shema: Rav Dovid Lipschitz
The 9th of Tammuz is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Dovid Lipschitz, president of Ezras Torah welfare program in the US , and Dean of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchonon (1906-1993). Known as the “Suvalker Rav,” he was born in Minsk , but moved to Grodno as a child, where he later studied in Yeshivas Shaar Hatorah of Rav Shimon Shkop. He transferred to the Mir yeshiva where he studied under R’ Eliezer Yehuda Finkel and Rav Yerucham Levovitz. At age 24, he married Zipporah Chava Yoselewitz and two years later, in 1935, he succeeded his father-in-law as rabbi of Suvalk, a title he carried for the rest of his life. One-half of Suvalk’s 6,000 Jews (including the Lifshitz family) escaped to Lithuania . In June 1941, Rav Lifschitz arrived in San Francisco on a boat that carried several other leading sages. Rav Lifschitz’s first position was in the USA was in Chicago , but he soon moved to Yeshivas Rabbienu Yitzchak Elchanan (the rabbinical school of what later became Yeshiva University), where he remained for the rest of his life. A small number of his shmuessen were printed posthumously under the title Tehilah Le’Dovid.
The Tefillah of Ahavah Rabbah, “With an expansive and expanding love,” is a prayer for success in Torah Study.
“Our Father, Our King,” because the Holy One, Blessed is He, relates to us both as King and Father. He is the King of kings, crowned with the Highest Crown, and we relate to Him with awe and fear as the Rabbis explain the verse,” Place, you shall place a king over you (Devarim 17:15),” to mean that we shall have awe and fear for him. In the High Holiday prayers we experience God as the “King of Judgment,” Who judges all we do, even the seemingly insignificant, in meticulous detail. This alone is sufficient to fear Him.
In addition to King, He also relates to us as a Father, “with exceedingly great pity have You pitied us.”
Our request in the prayer of Ahavah Rabbah, “instill understanding in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfillall the words of Your Torah’s teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments,” can only be expressed to, Our Father, merciful Father.” for it is as the Father Who loves His child that He will grant our request.
“For the sake of our forefathers who trusted in You, and whom You taught the decrees of life to do Your will wholeheartedly.” Come and hear and fundamental idea: All our Service in Torah and Mitzvot is not as a new beginning but a continuation of our forefathers’ service! The Rambam, in his introduction to the Yad HaChazakah, lists forty generations from Moshe until the final editing of the Talmud, and concludes, “Moshe, our teacher received all from the Almighty because all the words of Torah are the words of the Lord of Israel.” When we study Torah as a continuation of previous generations we connect with all those earlier generations, back to the beginning, and it is as if we heard the Torah directly from the mouth of God. “May You be equally gracious to us and teach us,” as You taught Moshe at Sinai. (Tehillah L’David)