Tefillah Class 7/16: The 19 Steps To God: Step 3
1. Being Aware of the Words: “Aishet Chayil” is usually translated as “A woman of valor, who can find”. We infer that we search for a true woman of valor. I believe the accurate translation to mean, “(There is) A woman of valor. Who will find her?” The emphasis is on the “finding” as it is in the Talmud: They would ask a groom which verse applies to him: “He who has found a woman has found good”, or, “I find a woman to be more bitter than death”? Most of us have the “Woman of Valor” just in front of us; we must look deep inside her and discover all her virtues, for ourselves. We also spoke of the word “Bitachon” always used by people as a noun, but is always used in the Bible as a verb.)
2. The second Blessing of the Amidah is divided into three steps: 1) You are an Eternal Power, 2) You are a Mechayei Meitim – One Who Gives life to the dead, and 3) You are “Rav” – Expansive – in Your salvation. The rest of the blessing follows these three steps.
3. We focused on Being Aware of the Words in the second section: It does not mean that You (God) give life to the dead, but that You are defined as One Who Gives life to the dead. It is in God’s nature to nurture life, evn in those who are dead – emphasis on spiritually dead.
4. “Ata” is God allowing us to address the Creator in second person, a liberty we do not take with a Rebbi. (We defined a Rebbi as derived from the word “Rav”, which we translated as Expansive: A Rebbi carries the responsibility of refining the capacities of the disciple so that the latter can begin to realize his true nature and grow. Hence, the Rambam’s description of a Rebbi as a “Rofeh Nefesh” – A Soul Doctor.) The permission to address God with such familiarity is to draw us back to Him, to return after we pulled away from the intensity and awe. We tend to pull back when we speak of God as the Gibbor – Mighty One. This is similar to the angels described by Ezekiel as “Pulling back and returning”.
5. The purpose of Creation is fulfilled in the World to Come. The same purpose demands that God be involved in our lives: He sustains life with Life Force”. God expresses His might in through Divine Providence.
6. “He gives life to the dead with Increased Compassion”: God added Rachamim – Compassion – before the creation of Adam and Eve. This basic compassion allowed us the room to explore and make mistakes. Increased Compassion is only after the sin, when we distanced ourselves from the Source of Life _ He continues to be compassionate even when we reject Him.
7. This blessing of Gevurah – Directed Might To Guide Us In Achieving Our Purpose – allows us to connect with that power.
8. We may not make requests during this blessing, but we may joyfully say: “The One Who lifts the fallen” will lift me. “The One Who heals the sick” will heal me.”
9. God’s Might is part of creation and we can draw on it for empowerment, which is the central message of this second blessing.
10. When the Mishna in Avot speaks of “Making our prayer compassion” it does NOT say that we should request compassion, but that our prayer should bring compassion to the world. When we are empowered – through Free Choice – Self Mastery – and Attaching to God – we actually bring an abundance of compassion to the world. Prayer is an opportunity to link heaven and earth.
11. The Siddur – Prayer Book – is a source of spiritual instruction, which is not a matter of mere technique; it has to do with inner transformation.