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Morning Blessings: Mei Marom: Dignity

The Sixth of Kislev is the Yahrzteit of Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap (1883-1951). Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz Harav and Rav of Yerushalayim’s Sha’arei Chessed neighborhood. He was a close disciple of Rav Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook. Author of Mei Marom and Michtavei Marom.

“May it be Your will, God, my Lord, and Lord of my ancestors, that You recuse me today, and every day from brazen men, and from brazeness.” Rebbi HaKadosh composed this prayer. (Berachot 16b) Rashi explains that we are praying that brazen people to not provoke us, and that they do not spread false accusations that we are mamzerim; illegitimate children of a married woman.

It is incredible to think that Rebbi was so concerned about the accusation of being a Mamzer, that he composed a prayer specifically about that, and no other libel and slander.

We can better understand this prayer by examining a debate between Rabbis Eliezer, Yehoshua and Akiva (Masechet Kallah 1:2): What is a brazen man? Rabbi Eliezer says that he is a Mamzer. Rabbi Yehoshua disagrees and says that it is the child of a woman who did not observe the laws of family purity. Rabbi Akiva understands the brazen man as the combination of the first two; a mazer, whose mother did not observe family purity.

One time, two children passed before the great rabbis. One child covered his head as he walked, and the other, did not. Rabbi Eliezer said, “He must be a mamzer!” Rabbi Yehoshua said, “He must be the child of a Nidah!” Rabbi Akiva said, “He must be both!” The three rabbis went to question the boy’s mother and they learned that Rabbi Akiva was correct.

The other two rabbis exclaimed: “Blessed be the Lord of Israel, Who reveals His secrets to Akiva the son of Joseph.”

Busha – the quality to be ashamed of behaving inappropriately in public, is an expression of being connected to others. A person must sense that there is a basic connection between all people. When a person has been born into an environment of severed relationships, physically, such as a Mamzer, who is the result of a married mother who had relations with a man other than her husband, or spiritually, such as the child of a Nidah, never gains such a sense of connection.

Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi prayed that he not be provoked, which would cause him to lose his sense of connection with others, which can lead to the brazenness of the Mamzer who lacks Busha – the natural sense of behaving appropriately before others.

One must commit him or her self, before reciting this prayer, to honoring others and avoiding conflict. (Mei Marom, Volume 13, Pages 33-34)

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