Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 27 December 2014 / 5 Tevet 5775

The Shemoneh Esrei - The Eighth Blessing - Part 1

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“Heal us, O G-d – then we will be healed.”

The name used here to address G-d is His four letter name “yud and heh and vav and heh” which signifies G-d's power of creation and control over the natural order of things. When this level of G-d's power is manifest in the world, miracles can be the norm. We thus find that when G-d sent Moshe to perform miracles in Egypt, he was told to use the four letter name of G-d. In contrast to this, when the Divine name “Elokim” is used it signifies the manifestation of G-d's power that is invested within nature. Accordingly, the numerical value of the name Elokim (spelled with a heh and not a ‘k’!) is equal to the Hebrew word for “nature”, signifying that they appear one and the same. The truth is, of course, that all that happens under the sun is from God. However, the usual way in which He runs thing is in accordance with the rules of nature.

The Number Eight

It is also taught that the number eight, which is one more than seven, alludes to G-d's ability to transcend the limitations of this world that was created in seven days, while the number seven corresponds to nature. We thus find that a Jewish boy is circumcised on the eighth day in order to invoke G-d's supra-natural healing powers. For this same reason the eighth blessing was established for healing.

In yet a deeper sense it can be explained that the reason that healing was chosen as the eighth blessing is because all healing can be looked at as transcending nature. Just as when something begins to rot it doesn't reverse its pattern, so too when a person's body begins to malfunction or become sick it would naturally lack the ability to reverse the downward course. G-d, however, in His kindness, instilled within the body the ability to become rejuvenated, thus becoming healed from sickness. This process, created by G-d, is in truth a miracle. This is true whether one’s recovery from a particular sickness seems miraculous or not. For even when doctors and medicine are used in one's healing process, the healing ability comes from G-d.

According to the above we can explain the seemingly repetitive language of this blessing, “Heal us, O G-d, then we will be healed.” We ask that G-d causes His four letter name, which transcends nature, to be manifest — for then we will surely be healed.

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