1 GOD IS ALL-LOVING

The Power to Praise

The first three blessings of the Amidah are praises of God, the next sixteen are requests and the last three are expressions of thanks. Jewish law teaches us that the first blessing is so important it must be said with full understanding and concentration—if it is not, it must be repeated.

Practically speaking, this law is no longer applicable. Because nowadays we are so distracted and have such low concentration, it is questionable that we would have any better kavanah if we tried again. And then, we would be using God’s name in vain. Nevertheless, we are obligated to take this proscription seriously and sincerely try to have kavanah. Unless we understand and feel what we are trying to express through the words of the first blessing, the rest of our tefillah cannot have any real meaning and impact.

As important as these praises are, however, they are not recited for God’s sake. We praise God for our own sake—to intensify our awareness of His greatness and His presence in our lives.

In the Talmud, a part of the oral tradition, the sages declare: “When you pray, know before whom you stand.”8 There are a number of ideas implied in this dictum. First you need to know who God is. Before whom do you stand? And who is this that empowers you to confidently stand in His presence, address Him and ask favors of Him? Who is this God with whom you can enjoy a personal relationship?

We need to remind ourselves before whom we are standing so that we can properly acknowledge God’s presence and His goodness in the world, and channel His will and vision into our lives through our tefillah.

The first blessing is the absolute minimum necessary to appreciate before whom it is that we stand and to whom we pray. In fact, the first three blessings succinctly cover the complete Jewish view of God—that He is all loving, all powerful and all mysterious.

Of course, we know that God is beyond description. Whatever we say about God is nothing compared to what we should say, and what we should say is insignificant compared to who God truly is. But nonetheless, being human we need words to remind us before whom we stand. Although words are limiting, these praises contain the best words (as far as words go) to express the truth about God, who really is beyond words and can only be known experientially (as far as that is possible).

With this in mind, let’s look at the first three blessings—phrase by phrase—to see how they clarify the meaning of God and what mindset they help us to establish.

 

God, the All-Loving

Blessed are You, YHVH Eloheinu—the God of our fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov; the Divine Power who is great, mighty and awesome, the Supernal Power who nurtures us with good kindness and is possessive of all, Who remembers the kindness of our forefathers and brings a redeemer to the children of their children, lovingly, for the sake of His name. The King who helps and saves and shields. Blessed are You, YHVH, Shield of Avraham. 

The Amidah starts with the key power phrase of all tefillah texts—Baruch Ata YHVH Eloheinu—“Blessed are You Lord our God.” Although the word Baruch is commonly translated as “blessed,” it also means “bountiful” and “abundant.” Essentially, Baruch Ata—“Blessed are You”—conceptually asserts: “O how bountiful and abundantly present You are in our lives. O what an ever-flowing wellspring of blessings You are to us.” Jewish mysticism teaches that the purpose of this affirmation is to intensify our awareness of this never changing Divine truth.

And the more we mean what we say and truly believe that God is indeed bountiful and abundantly present, the more this Divine truth is manifest and experienced in our lives.

More specifically, however, we assert: “O how bountiful and abundantly present You are in our lives. O what an ever-flowing wellspring of blessings You are to us—You, who are YHVH Eloheinu.” 

YHVH

The Hebrew letters Yud Hei Vav Hei (YHVH) stand for the essential four-letter name of God (the Tetragrammaton) which we are forbidden to pronounce. YHVH is an acronym for haya, hoveh v’yihiyeh which literally means “was, is and will be.” It is related to the Hebrew word havayah, meaning “existence/reality,” and the Hebrew verb l’hiyot, “to be.” Therefore, in short, YHVH conceptually translates as the Timeless Ultimate Reality—the one who was, is and always will be, the source, ground and context of all being.9

These three words Baruch Ata YHVH—“Blessed are You, Timeless Ultimate Reality”—should knock us off our feet. How could we mortal, infinitesimal earthlings dare to address the Timeless Ultimate One and assert that we relate to YHVH as “You,” in a direct, personal and familiar way? Traditionally, we are not even supposed to address our teachers as “you.” Rather, we are supposed to speak in the third person: “How does the Rav feel today? What does the Rav think?” Yet in tefillah, we often refer to God as “You,” as if we were intimate friends.

“Blessed are You, YHVH,” reminds us that the Timeless Ultimate Reality is not a lifeless, impersonal “It.” Rather YHVH is alive and personal. YHVH is here for us— ever present—and we can call Him “You.”

Our God

We not only comfortably address YHVH as “You,” but we also assert that YHVH is Eloheinu—“our God.” Who are we to say our God? Yet the Torah says we can. YHVH Eloheinu affirms that the Timeless Ultimate Reality is our God—our loving judge and guide who cares about us and empowers us, judging our deeds, responding accordingly and giving us what we need to actualize our potential and grow. In other words: “You, the Timeless Ultimate Reality, are our God. What we do and experience matters to You. You personally identify with our challenges and guide us so that we can actualize our godly greatness.”

Elohim (of which Eloheinu is the possessive form) is the Divine name associated with God’s attribute of judgment. It suggests that God is a judge. The Torah teaches that judgment is a great expression of love. In other words, we must understand that God judges us because He loves us and cares about us. God’s manifestation as Elohim means that what we do makes a difference to the Divine. We are important and we matter to God, and that is why He judges us.

The people we love the most, we judge the most. We are the most critical of our loved ones because we care greatly that they achieve their highest goals. God, too, wants us to reach our greatest potential. He responds to our choices and gives us what we need, so that we can actualize our highest self as created in the Divine image.

This is how loving parents act in response to their kids when they misbehave, and this is how God responds when we transgress.

When I was a child, one day I decided that I would take revenge on my mother over something that, today, I do not even recall. In a fit of anger, I took all of her nylon stockings and tied them into little knots. As I was sitting there feeling very satisfied with my macramé, I heard someone at the door and quickly hid the stockings in the china cabinet. I was proud, but I was also scared. The next day, when my mother couldn’t find any stockings, she asked me, “David, do you know where my stockings are?”

“Stockings? Aren’t they in the drawer?”

“No.”

Several hours later, my mother found her stockings in the china cabinet.  Dangling my artwork in front of me, she asked, “Do you have any idea how this happened?”

“The washing machine?”

“No.”

My mother knew very well that I did it. She punished me by canceling my birthday party. At the time, I was really devastated, but today I am happy because now I am a year younger!

Now that I’m more mature, I can imagine that if my mother wouldn’t have cared that I knotted her stockings, it wouldn’t have made me feel all that good. As scared as I was of her catching me, it would have felt worse if her only response was, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll get more.” That would have said to me, “What you do doesn’t matter to me. You don’t matter to me.” Nothing hurts more than that.

I have seen the self-esteem of children destroyed because their parents never punished them. These kids never experienced the consequences of their choices. Of course, I am not condoning any abusive form of punishment. But I do believe that a child has to see—and wants to see—that what he or she does makes a difference.

The fact that God is Eloheinu, “our God” who judges us, means that we have a relationship with Him. YHVH, the Timeless Ultimate Reality, the source, essence and context of everything and everyone in existence is Eloheinu, “our God.” He loves us, cares about us and empowers us to actualize our own godliness. Thus, Eloheinu can be understood as our Loving Life Coach and Personal Trainer.

 A Buddhist, interestingly, wouldn’t utter such praise for the Ultimate. Buddhists do not believe that God is personal, or that we can have an intimate relationship with Him. In Buddhist practice, a person’s highest spiritual accomplishment is to achieve selflessness and merge with a non-personal Ultimate Reality. Buddhists don’t pray to God. They don’t expect the Ultimate Reality to be personable or caring. They would never acknowledge that YHVH is also Eloheinu.

A couple years ago, I was on the Larry King Show with Dr. Deepak Chopra, the well-known Hindu healer and teacher of Eastern practice. Larry started the show by asking, “Who is God?”

Deepak  responded, “The infinite realm of possibilities — the One who was, the One who is.” He described God in a very esoteric and metaphysical way, but there was nothing personal about his description of God.

Larry then turned to me and asked, “Rabbi. Is God watching us, judging us?”

“Yes, Larry,” I answered. “He is watching us. But He is not just judging us. He is loving us.”

I could see that Larry and Deepak were surprised by my answer. During the commercial, Deepak warmly told me that he loved what I said. Larry agreed, “Yeah, Rabbi, you are doing great.” I wondered what was so impressive, but then I realized that for a rabbi to describe God as loving was an anomaly.

They must have assumed, like many people do, that Jews view God as angry, mean, vengeful and punishing. But how could anyone—and why would anyone—pray to such a nasty God?

The Torah’s view is altogether different. The Torah reveals to the world that we can all stand confidently before YHVH, the Timeless Ultimate Reality, who is personal as Eloheinu, and who can be comfortably, informally   addressed as “You.” God is paradoxically beyond the beyond and yet mysteriously manifest and encountered as close, personal and ever-present.

YHVH is Eloheinu—the Timeless Ultimate Reality is our God—our Loving Judge, Life Coach and Personal Trainer. He is involved in our everyday lives and personally identifies with our daily challenges. He loves, cares, guides and empowers us, judging our deeds, responding accordingly and giving us what we need to grow and actualize our potential.

As we learned in the introduction, tefillah is a faithbuilding exercise. The more we believe and acknowledge the meaning of YHVH Eloheinu, the more this Divine truth becomes evident and experienced in our everyday lives.

The God of our Forefathers

After we acknowledge that YHVH is our God, personal and caring, we go on to affirm that God is also “the God of our forefathers.” In other words, although we need to experience our own personal, unique and contemporary relationship with God, our individual connection must also be set within the context of our historic relationship with God. Our personal connection is also part of a traditional, ancestral relationship. God is not just our own God; this relationship did not start with us. Our personal relationship with God goes way back and is longstanding.

Some people have a personal relationship with God, but it is not linked to history. Conversely, some people have a historic, ancestral relationship with God, but not a personal, unique connection. Recently, I received a letter from a fellow who read my book The Secret Life of God. He said that when he was fifteen, he had a religious crisis. He realized that he believed in God only because his parents believed in God. As that was not a good enough reason for him, he became an atheist. This man had a traditional connection but was lacking a personal relationship.

The phrase, “You are the God of our forefathers,” is especially helpful during times when we do not feel so close to God nor worthy of His loving attention. It helps us remember that God is indeed close to us simply because we are the offspring of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Even when we feel inadequate to stand in God’s presence and ask for His help, nonetheless we know that He is always here for us because He is the God of our great, great grandparents. Even if we feel we have no personal merits, we know that we can approach God because we are descendants of those spiritual giants. We can actually count on the merit of our ancestors. We are their offspring, and the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The Amidah then names each one of the forefathers: “You are the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, and the God of Yaakov.” This suggests that each of these spiritual giants had a very different perspective of, and encounter with, God—that God related to each of them differently because God gives everyone individual attention. God personally identifies with each of us as individuals.

Yet as it continues, the blessing also reminds us, “The Divine Power who is great, mighty and awesome.” Although God is manifest as close and personal, we need to remember that God is truly beyond personification. The God whom we call “You” is also the great, mighty, awesome Divine power and force.

As soon as the tefillah reminds us of God’s greatness, it repeats that God personally cares for us and this Supernal Power “nurtures us with good kindness.” This repetition highlights the mysterious contrast between the manifestation of God as the great power and yet as kind and nurturing. As awesome as God is, He is still our loving, caring God.

Compare this Jewish concept of God to that of the ancient Greeks. They believed that because the gods were so great and mighty, they had no interest in human beings. In essence, they could care less about us. We, too, may wonder why the Timeless Ultimate Reality would take interest in us mortals. Why would the Infinite care about the infinitesimal? The Torah teaches that God’s greatness lies precisely in the fact that He wants to be present in our lives, and that He cares for us and nurtures us.

Let’s now focus on the part of the blessing that says “good kindness.” You may be wondering whether there is such a thing as bad kindness. Well, the Torah teaches that there is indeed. The ideal form of kindness does not diminish the stature and self-esteem of the one who is its object. Therefore, good kindness is a kindness that truly nurtures a person without causing him or her to lose self-worth.

For example, regarding the laws of giving to the poor (tzedakah), we are taught that it is better to donate in anonymity so that the recipient does not know the name of the donor and will not be embarrassed in the donor’s presence. It is even better if we can help the poor person get a job. This is because when we give a jobless man money, we take away some of his dignity and self-worth. But when we give him a job, we are protecting and nurturing his self-respect. God, as the ultimate nurturer, always gives while protecting and building our stature.

God, the Giver and Receiver

The next part of the blessing reads, “and is possessive of all.” This expresses much endearment. Once we recognize that God nurtures us, we must realize that He is, therefore, invested in us. He takes ownership and interest in everything we do.

For example, Jewish law describes the union between a man and a woman as lovingly possessive. It is as if he is making her his own and cherishing her—“I want you to be mine.” This is how God relates to us.

This phrase—“and is possessive of all”—also expresses a paradox. How can someone give and yet still own everything? If everything I give another person continues to be my own property, then I didn’t really give the other person anything. This is a Divine mystery: God gives and yet continues to own everything

The blessing continues, telling us that God also “remembers the kindness of our forefathers, and redeems the children of their children.” The Torah teaches that God appreciates and repays our forefathers’ kindness. In other words, God values and appreciates what they have done in the past—and by implication, what we do in the present— for Him. This, in turn, means that He also receives from us.

It is an amazing idea that God allows us—and empowers us—to give to Him. Of course, God lacks nothing, and He certainly doesn’t need our kindness. But love means that even when we don’t need another person’s help, we give him the opportunity to do something for us.

The Midrash, points out that even though “God lights up the entire world,” He asks us to “light for Him the menorah in the Temple.” This can be compared to a blind man and a seeing man walking into a dark room, and the seeing man asking of the blind man, “Please, do me a favor.

Reach over to the right side of the door and switch on the light so that I can see.” This small gesture gives the blind person an opportunity to do something for his friend.

Our ability to give to God, and thereby bond with Him, is God’s greatest gift to us. Love is not only giving, but also receiving. When we love someone, we allow our beloved to give to us. Sometimes, the greatest gift of love is the opportunity to return love.

God cherishes the goodness He has received from our forefathers so much so that His gratitude lasts for generations, and we—as the descendents of these great people—can feel confident that, in appreciation, God will rescue us. We should never feel unworthy to speak to God and ask for His help. Even if we have done nothing for God and feel completely inadequate to stand before Him, we must remember the mere fact that we are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov gives us the right to pray. Even if we feel unworthy, we can expect God to answer our prayers and redeem us because His love for our great, great grandparents extends to us.

Redemption

That God will redeem us means that God will restore to us a sense of Divine dignity, personal significance and self-worth so that we can confidently and comfortably call to Him and enjoy a loving relationship with Him. As it says in the Proverbs, “I endow my beloved with substance.”10 In other words, God loves us and will enable us to feel how much we matter to him.

And God does all of this “lovingly, for the sake of His name.” This is an odd phrase; it seems to be implying that God redeems us for selfish reasons—for His name’s sake. It seems to be implying that if we are not redeemed, then something about God’s name will be unfulfilled. In other words, God wants us to be redeemed in order for His name to be known. What does that mean?

The only reason that we are given names is so that others can call to us. If there were no one in existence to call to us, we would not need a name. The fact that God has a name at all is a mystery. However, Jewish mysticism teaches that although nothing else exists besides God, as an act of love He created us and gave Himself a name so that we can call to Him and bond with Him. God created beings other than Himself because He wanted a loving relationship with us. He nurtures us and redeems us; He makes our existence matter and He empowers us to become His significant other, to feel worthy so that we can call to Him, evoke His presence in our lives and enjoy a personal, loving relationship with Him.

The famed psychologist Erich Fromm defined immature love as, “I need you, therefore I love you,” and mature love as, “I love you, therefore I need you.” God doesn’t love us because He needs us. God needs us because He loves us.  And because He loves us, He created the possibility for Him to need us.

In other words, the great Divine mystery of love and life is that God created a need that He didn’t need. We need it because we need to be needed. We are happy when we are certain that we are needed. Essentially, God, because of His love for us, created for us the opportunity to feel needed by Him. God did not need to need us, but because He loves us, He chose to need us. Of course, the word “need” used in relation to God borders on the ridiculous, but it is the best way we have to describe the truth of our relationship with Him and His ultimate gift to us.

Therefore, God redeems us—empowers us—to feel significant in His presence for the sake of His name, so that we can call to Him. And He does this all as an act of love, giving us the joy of feeling needed by Him, so that we can know His name and call to Him.

King, Helper and Shield

Finally, the first blessing refers to God as “the King who helps and saves and shields.”

The Kabbalah teaches that there is no such thing as a king without a nation. For God to be manifest as king, He must have a kingdom that accepts Him as king. Of course, we know that God does not need anyone. However, if God wants to be manifest as a king, then He “needs” a nation that acknowledges Him as such. This is His gift to us. The fact that we establish God as our king indicates that we, in fact, are Divinely significant. Therefore, He helps us, rescues us and protects us because He needs us.

Not only does God help us when we don’t deserve it, God also protects us. But this statement begs a question: If God protects us, then why would we ever need to be helped or rescued? From what does God protect us?

God protects us from the negative side effects of His own help. When we become aware that He helps us and rescues us all the time, we tend to lose some of our confidence and sense of personal power. With all that He does for us daily, we could even lose our self-respect and feeling of adequacy. Therefore, God protects us from Himself.

When God helps, He does so in a way that preserves us. He “shields” us from His overwhelming kindness, so that we can maintain our self-esteem and continue to enjoy a meaningful relationship with Him.

Shield of Avraham

The first blessing concludes with: “Blessed are You, YHVH,
Shield of Avraham.” 

 Avraham was the first person who was able to stand in God’s presence, relate to Him and enter into a covenant with Him. Until Avraham, people either thought they were too insignificant to have a relationship with God, or they believed that they too were gods. By virtue of the covenant He made with God, Avraham revealed to us the secret that, although there is nothing except God, we exist within the loving embrace of God. This is the miracle of what the Kabbalah describes as a Divine withdrawal (tzimtzum).

In the beginning, there was only God. But for there to be a “me” and “you” who could relate to God, God had to withdraw and conceal the presence of His “endless light,” so that our own light could shine, and we could have a presence in His presence and relate to Him.

Think about the stars. They seem to come out at night, but the stars are always in the sky, even during the day. We just don’t see them because the overwhelming light of the sun nullifies their light. Once the sun sets and its light is concealed, the stars can have presence and their radiance can be seen.

Tzimtzum—the withdrawal of the self to make space for another—is an act of love. When we love others, we sometimes need to diminish our own light so that the light of our loved ones can shine. We may have to shield them from our overshadowing presence so that they can take center stage. This is the challenge of parenting. As parents we have to diminish our presence so that our children can establish their own. Otherwise, they will feel insignificant around us and not be able to have a loving relationship with us.

To Bow or Not to Bow

According to Jewish law, we bow at the beginning and the end of the first blessing. There are also two more times— four times total throughout the entire Amidah—when we are supposed to bow. The Talmud teaches that if you see a person bowing more than the required times, then you are to teach him not to do it. 11

Why does the Talmud specifically says, “teach him not to do it” rather than “tell him not to do it (because it is the law)?” We bow before God only as a preparation to stand before Him with proper humility. But, nonetheless, we must stand with confidence. If a person is bowing too much, he is confused about the nature of his relationship to God. It is not enough to tell him the law; we must help him understand that the goal of Torah is to stand before God, rather than to stoop or cower. God lovingly empowers us to stand confidently in His presence; He does not want us to be spiritual weaklings.

This basic truth is not only expressed in prayer, it is also evident in the laws surrounding ritual purification such as the washing of the hands. The law requires that when we wash our hands in the morning or in preparation for eating bread, we have to do it b’koach gavrah—with human strength. To facilitate this, we must fill a cup with water and use it to pour over each hand rather than just putting our hands under a running faucet. Jewish law also requires that the cup, which cannot have any cracks, have a flat bottom so that it can stand on its own without tipping over.

These laws hint to us that to be pure, we too must be whole and able to stand on our own. Spiritual purification is an act of power and assertion, not an act of weakness and surrender. We don’t serve God because we are weak and afraid that He will step on us if we don’t. We serve God because we are strong, and we recognize that He has empowered us to play a significant role in establishing His kingdom and manifesting His presence on earth.

Unlike Judaism, many religions teach that spiritual purification can only be achieved through complete surrender and realization that we are nothing in God’s presence. But Jewish law insists that spiritual purification can only be accomplished through our own assertion.

Tefillah is no different. If a person is bowing too much while praying, he has it all wrong. He thinks that prayer is about submission before God. But the Amidah— which literally means “standing”—is really about establishing ourselves as God’s significant other and bonding with Him in love. Our two preparatory and two concluding bows humble us just enough to enable us to accomplish this with the appropriate reverence.

The great Hassidic Master, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765-1827) would advise his students to always carry a precious gem in one pocket and a bit of dirt in the other pocket. Whenever they were feeling down, they were to reach into the pocket with the gem and realize they were also jewels in God’s eyes. Whenever they were feeling overconfident and haughty, they were to reach into the pocket with the dirt and realize they are also a piece of dust and to dust they would return.

Along this same line, we are taught not to bow too much before God. Torah is not about self-effacement. Torah empowers us to diminish our egos and thereby become powerful, radiant souls, standing in the loving presence and radiance of God. Unlike Buddhists, we Jews do not strive for total self- nullification. Just the opposite—we strive to reveal our sacred self and stand tall in the presence of the Ultimate Self, thus fulfilling our loving covenant with God just like our forefather Avraham.

Remembering the Goal

The goal of Torah is to fulfill the covenantal relationship of unconditional love between God and humanity. But for a relationship to exist—for there to be a “we”—there has to be a “me.” Therefore, in our attempt to diminish our ego as we bow in the presence of God, we must take care not to overdo it and lose ourselves.  

The first person we find praying in the Torah is Avraham, whose example teaches us how to stand humbly yet confidently before God. First, he boldly approaches God and asserts himself, “Will the Judge of the entire earth not act justly?” Then he humbly retreats, saying, “What am I? I am but dust and ashes.”12 His humble declaration, however, does not prevent him from boldly continuing to petition God against His decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. In this dialogue, we see Avraham’s struggle between surrender and assertiveness as would befit a servant of God who is also His partner in creation.

Of course, it is a very difficult balancing act. The Midrash tells us that when God revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai, their souls left their bodies. In other words, they were so overwhelmed by God’s presence that they simply died on the spot. God, however, sent angels to revive them. The message here is that while God reveals Himself, He simultaneously protects us from the overwhelming impact of His presence.

The Book of Psalms teaches that, “YHVH Elohim is like the sun and shield.”13 He lovingly shields us from His great radiance, so that we, too, can stand confidently before Him and be in a relationship with Him. Remember, the goal of the Amidah is, literally, “to stand.”

I once heard a guru tell his students that his goal was to teach them how to sit. Torah, however, teaches us how to stand—humbly but confidently—with stature and self-worth, in the presence of God. God’s gift to us is that we have presence even in His presence. Lovingly, He both empowers and protects us, so that we can call His name and bond with Him.

In Conclusion

You might think, “Who am I to stand before God? Who am I to request anything from God?”

The first blessing of the Amidah establishes the first and most important truth that we need to know in order to pray: we can stand before God and request His help. It affirms our belief that God is all-loving. He is close and personal. He cares and relates to us individually. And although He is great, mighty, awesome, even supreme and transcendent, we are nonetheless significant in His eyes. He nurtures us and makes us His very own. He not only gives us love but also receives it from us and remembers the kindness of our ancestors. His gratitude is long lasting, and He will redeem us and empower us to be in a loving relationship with Him.

Because He loves us, He needs us. He is like a king, and we are part of His kingdom. He helps us and rescues us. He also protects our self-esteem, shielding us from His overwhelming presence so that we can stand before Him— have presence in His presence—and be able to enjoy a loving relationship with Him.

Remember, praises for God are not for God’s sake. They are for our sake. We need to hear ourselves praise God. We need to put ourselves into the right mindset for our prayers to be effective. If we approach God with the feeling that we have no right to pray and that God is too great to have any interest in us tiny earthlings, then how can we even open our mouths?

This first blessing is absolutely critical to the understanding of our relationship with God. It enables us to boldly affirm, “I am standing before an all-loving God, who cares about me. He has as a vested interest in me, because He is a king and I am part of His kingdom. And even if I am unworthy, I can call out His name and He will respond.”

Summary and Paraphrase

In this first blessing we acknowledge that God is personal, ever-present and loving. We pray with confidence because we know He cares. He shields us from His overwhelming presence so that we can have our own presence, so we can stand before Him, express ourselves and enjoy a loving relationship with Him.

(Bow) Blessed are You … O how bountiful and abundantly present You are in our lives. O what an everflowing wellspring of blessings You are to us, YHVH, Timeless Ultimate Reality, who is Eloheinu, personal and ever-present, who cares about us, empowering us and responding to our choices and deeds. And who is the God of our fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the God of Yaakov. And even if we are unworthy, we know that in the ancestral merit, the God of our fathers always hears our prayers and give us individual attention as He did for them.

The Divine Power who is great, mighty and awesome. The Supernal Power; the Ultimate Force behind the universe, beyond all personification, who nonetheless is our loving parent and personally nurtures us with good kindness without detracting from our self-worth and  who lovingly is possessive of all.

Who remembers because He cherishes the kindness of our forefathers towards Him and, in appreciation, brings a redeemer to us, the children of their children, to restore our self-worth, lovingly, for the sake of His name, so that we can be His significant other, empowered to comfortably address Him by name. He is the King who helps us, His nation, and saves us, even when we don’t deserve it, and shields us from His overwhelming and all-pervasive presence so that we can enjoy a direct and loving relationship with Him.

(Bow) Blessed are You O how bountiful and abundantly present You are in our lives. O what an ever-flowing wellspring of blessings You are to us, YHVH, Ultimate Timeless Reality, who is the Shield of Avraham. You conceal Your endless light, so that we can retain our own presence in Your presence and confidently stand before You in prayer just like Avraham, who was the first to stand before You, assert himself in prayer and celebrate a personal and loving relationship with You.

The more we believe and acknowledge this Divine truth, the more we will experience it in our everyday life.