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The prayer Elokai N’ztor continues with, “V’chol hachosh’vim alai ra’ah, m’heirah hafeir atzasam v’kalkeil machashavtam – All those who plot evil against me, may their plans be quickly foiled and their machinations be ruined.” The Avudraham beautifully explains that this request follows our previous petition, “Uv’mitzvotecha tirdof nafshi – May our souls be motivated to pursue Your mitzvot.” Therefore, we ask Hashem, measure for measure in the merit of pursuing His mitzvot, He should cancel out the schemes of those who would pursue us. The Machzor Kolbo reveals that in the phrase ‘all those who plot evil against me’ is included the yeitzer hara, the evil inclination, who is constantly attempting to bring about our spiritual downfall. We are asking for Hashem’s assistance in negating his designs.

Then, we ask Hashem a fourfold request. “Aseih l’ma’an Sh’mecha, aseih l’ma’an yiminecha, aseih l’ma’an kidushasecha, aseih l’ma’an Torasecha – Do it for the sake of Your name, do it for the sake of Your right hand, do it for the sake of Your holiness, do it for the sake of Your Torah.” This is a very enigmatic series of requests. Imagine if, after 120 years, Leibel goes up to Heaven and meets Hashem. Hashem asks Leibel, “By the way, three times a day, you asked me, ‘Do it for the sake of Your name, …Your right hand, …Your holiness, …Your Torah.’ Do what exactly? What were you really asking for?” Leibel stammered, “Hashem, do what is best!” However, Hashem persisted. “What were you asking Me to do?” With embarrassment, Leibel shrugs and has no answer.


It’s interesting to note that the Siddur Meforesh explains the word aseih with the words, “Aseih na es bakoshosai – Please fulfill all my requests.” This however, in my humble opinion, is a very difficult interpretation. What does the fulfilling of the requests have to do with His holiness and His Torah? Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch [227:3] says, “Kol ha’omer daled devorim halalu, zoche u’mikabel Pnei haShechinah – Whoever says these four requests will merit the Divine Presence.” What does my asking for a new car or paying my mortgage have to do with the Divine Presence? It is therefore more likely explained as Rabbi Birnbaum adds in his Pathways To Prayer, “Save us from the exile.”

This fits with what nusach Sefard inserts before these four requests, a nusach which is cited in the Tur (ibid). “Bnei Ir’cha, yaseid Beisecha, v’shachleil Heichalecha, v’kabeitz kibutz galuyos, u’ph’dei tzonecha v’samach adosecha – Rebuild Your city (Yerushalayim), rebuild Your House (the Beit HaMikdash), reinstitute Your Temple, gather in the exiles, redeem Your flock, and cause Your people to rejoice.” It then follows perfectly, “Do it for the sake of Your name…,” that is being desecrated with defilement on Your Temple Mount, “Do it for the sake of Your might…,” (symbolized by Your right hand) since people are saying that You’re not strong enough to remove the gold mosque from the place of Your Temple, “Do it for the sake of Your holiness,” so It can once again reside in the Beit HaMikdash, and “Do it for the sake of Your Torah,” which will be more magnified with the restoration of Your presence in the Temple. It then also follows smoothly why we will merit to greet the Shechinah, for whoever mourns over Yerushalayim of old will merit to see it in its joy.

The ensuing requests also fit nicely for we follow this up with the request, “L’ma’an yeichal’tzun yididecha – In order that You deliver Your friends.” Like the Olas Tamid and the Siddur Meforesh, I translated yeichal’tzun as ‘to deliver.’ They are comparing it to the word chalitzah which means ‘to remove the shoe.’ So too, here it means to remove us from galus. The Eitz Yosef translates it, ‘to strengthen your friends,’ which is similar to the word heichaltzu, which means ‘to strengthen and gird the troops.’ The Eitz Yosef explains it to mean that we should be granted courage and be strengthened with bitachon, trust, during the galus. We cap it off by saying, “Hoshi’ah y’minecha va’aneini – Save us with Your right hand (which symbolizes middas hachesed, the attribute of kindness) and answer me.”

In the merit of our petitions for redemption may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, everything wonderful, and the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.


Transcribed and edited by Shelley Zeitlin.

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