Wednesday, September 15, 2010

zochreinu l'chaim -- bakashos in the beginning of tefilah?

Our amidah/shmoneh esrei follows a precise structure: it opens with praise of Hashem, in the middle are requests and supplications, and it closes with thanksgiving. We normally do not voice requests in the opening brachos -- one must first acknowledge Hashem's dominion and majesty; only then is one in a position to ask Hashem for personal needs. Yet, the tefilos between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur prove an exception to the rule. The Rishonim are already troubled by the fact that zachreinu, mi kamocha, kasveinu l'chaim, and b'sefer chaim, the special insertions made in tefilah to ask Hashem to inscribe us for a good year in the book of life, all appear in the first and last brachos of tefilah, not in the middle where personal petitions normally are made. Why do we depart from the normal pattern?

R' Avraham Bloch (Shiurei Da'as, "Ori v"Yishi") explains that the special insertions made this time of year are not like other personal requests. The recognition of Hashem as king of the universe, as master of all that occurs in the universe, ideally also entails the recognition that we exist solely to help proclaim those truths. We ask zachreinu l'chaim not because we selfishly want a few more years in the world, but rather because in this holy time of year we hopefully are contributing or hope to contribute to Hashem's presence being felt in the world. We say to Hashem that not only is his presence felt in the world because he is rofeh cholim, he is matir asurim, he is someich noflim, but also because he will be zochreinu l'chaim and through our existence will his presence be felt to a greater degree in this world.


  1. I think the first insertion reveals that these added supplications have nothing to do with us actually requesting something from G-D.

    The first insertion says "Remember us for life, oh King who desires life, and write us in the book of life, FOR YOUR SAKE." If this is a personal supplication why would it be for G-D's sake?

    I think this R' Avraham Bloch idea is a possible answer to this question, because we are here solely to proclaim these truths about G-D and in that aspect it is "For G-D's sake."

  2. Anonymous8:20 AM

    what would you say about the last two-uchtov and besfer?
    are those bakashos?
    also, int. q., if ones answers the question in a different way then r. bloch, in a way that would explain why here is an exception to the rule of having bakashos out of place, then im mistapeik if one forgets uchtov, and remembers besefer, and at besefer remembers that he forgot uchtov, maybe right there he can say uchtov as well, b/c since the halacha is for brachos emtazious/bakashos you could be moseif kfi the inyan, maybe you can say uchtov there, oh dilma, you can't b.c it'd be a din in the brachos emtazious, not a din in bakoshos.

  3. >>>b/c since the halacha is for brachos emtazious/bakashos

    The Rishonim answer that this is different because it is tzorech ha'rabim. I was discussing this with my son -- it seems strange because there doesn't seem to be a blanket heter to add to these brachos even for the sake of the tzibur except in this one instance. You are trying to apply the general rules of bakasha to this case, but I suspect that all bets are off and these insertions are sui generis.

  4. Anonymous2:17 PM

    but the same way we allow this one time for tzorech rabim, then anything similar should be allowed to enter in as well, that being uchtov, no?

  5. >>>then anything similar should be allowed to enter in as well

    So why not other bakashos that he rabim need? Why only these in particular?

  6. Anonymous3:13 AM

    i dont know. but once these are allowed, then anything k'eyen these should be allowed i.e. these themselves, like if you forgot one.

  7. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I think one should look at the placement of this within the Amida itself. It immediately follows the line L'maan Shemo, namely that HaShem remembers the good deeds of our ancestors and saves their children for the sake of his name in love.

    In this insertion, the words harken back. Here again, the root zcr is referenced and here our redemption is called chayim, but once again it is le-maancha.