Shabbos HaGadol / Prayer: An Essential Part of the Redemption
Harav Yonah Burr
The Gemara in Tractate Berachos 4b relates: “says Rav Yochanon, ‘who merits the world to come? One who is סומך גאולה לתפלה של ערבית / one who is careful not to interrupt between the blessing of Geula, redemption, and the Amidah, even during the evening prayer”.
The Gemara explains that even though the Jewish People did not physically leave Egypt until the morning, nevertheless, the redemption is considered to have already started the evening before, while they celebrated their very first seder, a Pesach Seder in Mitzrayim.
The commentaries explain, that the idea of not interrupting between our thanking Hashem for the redemption, and our own private Shemona Esrei, demonstrates that we, too, personally feel redeemed, and are prepared to dedicate ourselves completely to His service, symbolized by the Shema Esrei, the ultimate ‘service of the heart’. Living with such a mindset, will certainly guarantee one a portion in the world to come!
The Gemara asks; but wait a minute! Do we not interrupt with the blessing of השכיבנו when we ask Hashem that we should be blessed with peace while we go to sleep for the night? And we further ask that we be protected from foe, plague, sword, famine, and worry! The Gemara answers that this blessing is not considered to be an interruption; on the contrary, it is an extension of the blessing of redemption.
Rabbeinu Yonah explains, that not only is the blessing of השכיבנו an extension of the blessing of Geulah, but it actually is part and parcel of it; it actually defines it, and our recitation of this special blessing is re-enacting the actual redemption that occurred back then, “השכבינו is entirely appropriate to be said at this time; for it is part of the redemption. While Hashem was administering the plague upon the Egyptians, the Jews were huddled in their homes, afraid for their lives, and praying that Hashem should spare them; as it is stated, ‘and the destruction will not enter your homes’. For it is the way of the righteous to always consider themselves unworthy, and pray for their survival [even while they are being redeemed] ”
Corresponding to the prayer that the Jews most certainly offered then, our Sages instituted this prayer during our daily service to remind us of this important lesson; even during the redemption itself we must look heavenward and daven.
During this difficult time, while we pray for those that are ill, and are uncertain about the future, we will be celebrating our Pesach Seder quietly in our homes; without the usual hustle and bustle of family and guests. Let us all reach out and strengthen one another, have each other in mind, pray for the well being of the ill, and the world in general, and draw inspiration from that very first seder in Egypt, that Hashem will continue to redeem us.. may we celebrate the true redemption speedily in our days!
Have a good Shabbos!