Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 30 May 2015 / 12 Sivan 5775

Shemoneh Esrei: The Thirteenth Blessing: Part 2

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“For the righteous, and for the devout, for the elders of Your people the House of Israel, and for the remnant of their scribes.”

“Proud Ones”

The “Shelah HaKadosh” (Rabbi Horowitz) explains that in the blessing “for the righteous” we should request from Gd, with a broken heart, to raise and exalt the “pride” and honor of the righteous and pious people who are currently despised and humiliated. In today’s world the movie stars and sports stars seem to have the world’s attention. They are the “proud ones” who are the envy of all. What do we really learn from them? That playing make-believe, or just playing, is what life is all about? Let us stop and think; can one honestly say that G-d takes “pride” in them? If the answer is “no”, then why should we?

Before choosing whose picture to hang up on our wall, or more importantly, whom we should be trying to emulate, we need to ask ourselves: Who does G-d really take pride in? Who truly makes Him happy? Don’t you want to be counted amongst them?

G-d takes pride in the righteous, who are the basis for Creation, as it is written, “The righteous one is the foundation of the world.” In fact, we are taught that the great delight that G-d has from the righteous was a reason for G-d to create the world in the first place. Yet, these people are unfortunately taken for granted by the ignorant masses. Those that choose to live a holy life are looked at as extremists, or outcasts. Scholars who dedicate their lives to the study of Torah, which sustains the world and all those that live in it, are looked upon with disdain.

I would like to share a life-changing experience that took place nearly fifteen years ago. I was browsing through a Jewish magazine when I came across a startling picture. It was during the Holocaust. A Chassidic Jew, with a long black coat and a long dark beard and peyot was surrounded by a group of handsome, blond-haired and blue-eyed German soldiers. I must admit, they looked a lot stronger physically than the Jew, and a lot taller too. Two of them were holding up his peyot, one with scissors in his hand, and all of them were laughing at him. I thought to myself that to them he must look like a clown. Then, a second or two later, I thought again. “How does G-d see this picture?” Then I realized who was truly handsome and who the real clowns were. It was at that moment that I decided to grow peyot.

When G-d said “Let us make Man,” it is that Jew, and all those like him, whom He had in mind. Although the world cannot see it, it is the Jewish People who are the “proud ones”. May we soon merit seeing the day when our might and glory become ours once more.

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