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In the seventh bracha of the Shemone Esrei, we ask Hashem to notice our afflictions, fight our battles and redeem us for the sake of His Name. It seems that after asking Hashem for forgiveness in the sixth bracha, we now feel comfortable to ask Him to help us with our problems. However, I wonder why we don’t first ask Him to cure us, the subject matter of the eighth blessing, since we would think that health comes first. As the saying goes, “Bereishis bara – First is health.” (Bara is similar to the word brios, one’s wellbeing.) The Levush, zt”l, zy”a, bolsters this question by pointing out that this is the order in the verse, “Hasolei’ach l’chol avoneichi, harofei l’chol tachalulochi – He forgives all of our sins and cures all of our sicknesses,” putting health right after forgiveness. The Levush answers that since the geula, the final redemption, will begin in the seventh year (of the shmittah cycle), it is therefore the seventh blessing. I would add that the blessing of health is the eighth blessing since the circumcision is on the eighth day-which needs healing.

I would also like to suggest that in order to achieve health of the body, we need first to be freed from our mental problems and distresses. It is for this reason that in the mishebeirach prayer for the sick, we say first refuas hanefesh, healing of the soul, and only then refuas haguf, the healing of the body. This is because one who is mentally troubled and preoccupied will not heal quickly and successfully.


In Nusach Ashkenaz, we start the blessing R’eih v’anyeinu, Notice our afflictions. Nusach Sefard, however, adds a word: R’eih na v’anyeinu. The word na can either be translated as ‘now’ (cf. Onkelos throughout the Torah) or ‘please’ (cf. Artscroll on this blessing). The Maharshal writes not to say na, and similarly in the siddur of Rav Amrom Gaon and the G”ra, the Pri Chadash and the Rokei’ach do not say na. But the Elya Rabbah and Magein Avraham, echoing the Rambam, the Kolbo, and many others tell us to say na.

It would seem to me that the controversy centers on why we should say ‘please’ or ‘now’ just by this blessing and not by the other requests in our Shemone Esrei, such as to forgive us, or to cure us. Perhaps we might explain that since it comes right after the blessing of s’lach lonu, forgiveness, and we realize that we might not yet be worthy of complete absolution, we follow it up with the word ‘please’ or ‘now’ even though we might not yet be deserving.

Rashi, in Megillah [17b], establishes that this blessing is not referring to the future redemption, rather it is a petition to Hashem to help save us from our daily struggles and hardships. He explains that we have three other blessings that refer to the future redemption, namely T’ka b’shofer gadol, V’liyrushalayim ircha, and Es tzemach Dovid. This is also why the blessing ends Go’eil Yisroel, Who redeems Yisroel, in the present tense and not in the future tense as it’s referring to the daily vicissitudes of life.

The Siddur Hameforush explains the thrust of the blessing is referring to our suffering at the hands of our enemies, the antisemetic oppressors that surround us from all sides. Perhaps this is why the blessing starts with the request, “R’eih v’anyeinu – See our suffering,” because many times we ourselves are not aware of the plots and schemes that lurk around us.

We then say, “V’rivah riveinu – Fight our battles,” like we say in Al Hanisim on Chanukah, that Hashem was ravta es rivum, Hashem battled their battles, or as we say in the blessing after Megillas Esther, “Horav es riveinu – You fight our battles.

We cap the request with the plea, “Ugo’aleinu m’heirah lema’an sh’mecha – Redeem us quickly for the sake of Your Name.” This is so there shouldn’t be a chillul Hashem, a profanation of Your Holy Name, that the nations shouldn’t say the Jewish G-d doesn’t have the strength to take care of His children. We add the word m’heirah, quickly, for when it comes to our enemies, there is not a moment to spare. The homicide bombers need to be stopped before they press the button, the Iron Dome and the David Slingshot needs to be employed with the utmost speed to ward off the oncoming dangers.

We will continue to discuss this blessing next week, b’ezras Hashem. In the merit of realizing that Hashem is the One Who can help us with our problems, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, trouble free existence, and everything wonderful.

(To be continued)


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