Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 1 November 2014 / 8 Heshvan 5775

The Shemoneh Esrei - The Fifth Blessing (Part 2)

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“Return us, our Father, to Your Torah, and bring us close, our King, to Your service, and cause us (our souls) to return before You.”

The ways of the world are many. As one embarks on his journey through life, he will be drawn further and further away from where he started. The starting point of one’s life, as a soul in the Heavens, was before its Maker — and so too will its end be the same. We are all destined to give a reckoning of our journeys. What will we say when asked why we’ve been away so long? What will we answer when asked what we were searching for throughout our life? Can one really expect to find G-d without bothering to look?

Although G-d’s glory fills the entire world, one will only find Him if he first turns to the Torah. Through the Divine wisdom hidden within the Torah, G-d’s glory is revealed within this dark world. In fact, the Sages explain that G-d placed Himself, so to speak, in His Torah. Thus, only when one turns to the Torah first will he succeed in using this world to draw himself closer to G-d. One who merits will be able to hear the voice of G-d call out to Him, discovering that the true purpose for which he has been placed in the world is to serve G-d his maker. When such a person’s soul returns above, it will be filled with a feeling of accomplishment instead of regret.

As we go about our daily activities we are pulled back —morning, noon, and night — to pray before G-d. The intent is that in returning so often we will not be lured so far astray. Accordingly, when saying the fifth blessing, one should have in mind to return to G-d’s Torah, which will in turn bring a person close to the proper service of G-d. It is in connection to this that the Torah is called the “Blueprint of Creation”. It also serves as man’s instruction manual, ensuring that his soul does not become lost, but instead will return above to its Maker unblemished.

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