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PRAYER PING #13

ברוך שאמר is the thesis of פסוקי דזמרא. It tells you what really matters and gives you a preview of what is to come. The first half of ברוך שאמר has nine expressions of gratitude and praise, while the second half serves as an introduction to the Tehillim that will follow (ובשירי דוד עבדך נהללך ה' אלקינו, 'With the songs of Your servant David [which we are about to say], we will praise You, O Lord our God'].

Chazal teach us that this tefillah was originally included in our siddur by the Anshe Knesset HaGedolah after it fell from Heaven on a piece of paper. The Zohar teaches that this Heavenly prayer nullifies any evil decrees against us, thereby clearing the way for our tefillot to ascend to Heaven from whence they came. We therefore say ברוך שאמר each morning to pave the way for us to speak unhindered and meaningful prayer.

I'd like to specifically focus right now on the first words, ברוך שאמר והיה העולם ברוך הוא, 'Blessed is He Who spoke and the world came into being, blessed is He'. The formula of a blessing is curious here. Why would we bless God for creating the world? Shouldn't we instead express how blessed we are? From the blessing formula, we learn that our job (and what we should be praying for) is to become people who "bless God", i.e.-- who inspire God, kivyachol, to feel blessed for having given His world to us. Yes, God created the world letovah, for us to receive His goodness. But He also made us His partners, the creations who are able to create or, chas veshalom, to destroy. Through alleviating the suffering and sorrow of another, deepening our connection to a specific mitzvah, or taking a few minutes each day to learn Torah, we can bless God and strengthen God's confidence in His decision to give us His created world.

The message of this tefillah written by the hand of Heaven is that our prayers and lives should be the ultimate exercise in emulating Heaven, in imitating Godliness. It is said standing, without interruption because, as the Or Zarua teaches, our recitation of this prayer is כנגד הצורה העליונה, compared to the image of Heaven where the angels stood and praised God. Every morning, we receive this Heavenly prayer-- this calling to live Heavenly lives-- on a piece of paper with a return address to the One Who spoke and gave us the ability to respond.

--Rabbanit Alissa

Wed, February 20 2019 15 Adar I 5779