Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 10 January 2015 / 19 Tevet 5775

The Shemoneh Esrei - The Eighth Blessing - Part 3

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“For You are a (kind) G-d, (and) King ...”

The Divine name of G-d (Aleph and Lamed ) used here to address G-d connotes the attribute of kindness. The intent is to emphasize that it is an act of kindness when G-d heals a person from his illness. In contrast to this, we also refer to G-d as a King. What connection is there between healing and G-d's function as King? Since the healing process requires utilizing many naturally grown substances, we refer to G-d as “King of the world” — Who is in total control of nature.

A Deeper Look

As mentioned before, a person often becomes sick as a result of a Heavenly decree. However, what most people are not aware of is that his cure is also a result of that same decree. Thus, it is G-d's function as a King — Who sits on His throne of judgment — that ultimately causes a person to be healed from his sickness.

This can be compared to a person sent to jail for a crime he committed. Although at the end of his sentence he will be set free, this can hardly be called an act of kindness. Not sending him to jail in the first place would be an act of kindness. The same is true regarding sickness. When the time arrives for a person's sickness to end, he is healed. According to the above one may ask why we in fact mention that G-d is kind in this blessing.

To understand the answer we must first explain the reason a person becomes sick. According to kabbalistic teachings a person becomes sick as a result of the sins he has committed. The pain and suffering serve as atonement for his transgressions, cleansing his soul from the blemishes caused by sin. Although one sometimes goes through great pain, he will ultimately be better off as a result.

We see there is a manner of “hidden kindness” involved in the process of sickness and healing. Perhaps this is the reason the Sages refer both to the attribute of kindness as well as referring to the attribute of judgment in this blessing. Accordingly we can explain the language of the blessing as follows: “For You are a kind G-d, acting as a King, decreeing sickness upon a person for his ultimate benefit.

“The faithful and compassionate healer”

G-d is “faithful” to heal a person at the appointed time. However, when one merits — through teshuvah (repentance) — he can arouse G-d's compassion, causing him to be healed even before the originally decreed time. This is a deeper expression of G-d's kindness, even though it may still remain hidden from the person.

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