כ׳ באב ה׳תשע״ב (August 8, 2012)

Berakhot 7a-b: The Lord’s Prayer

Somewhat surprisingly, of the Gemara related that God recites prayers.

On today’s daf  we learn:

Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays? As it is stated: “I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of My prayer” (Yeshayahu 56:7). The verse does not say the house of their prayer, but rather, “the house of My prayer”; from here we see that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays.

The Gemara asks: What does God pray? To whom does God pray?

R Zutra bar Tovia said that Rav said:
God says: May it be My will that My mercy will overcome My anger towards Israel for their transgressions,
and may My mercy prevail over My other attributes through which Israel is punished,
and may I conduct myself toward My children, Israel, with the attribute of mercy,
and may I enter before them beyond the letter of the law.

Much has been said with regard to these statements, and many homiletical and mystical interpretations have been suggested in an effort to understand them. Most commentaries hold that God’s prayer is God’s request of the individual and of mankind as a whole to turn to Him with all their heart. In other words, if people repent their sins and attempt to break the vicious cycle of “one transgression leads to another transgression,” they will cause God’s attribute of mercy to prevail over His attribute of justice, and even those deserving of punishment will be spared. That said, God’s prayer, so to speak, is His wish/request of man: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear” (Devarim 10:12).The fact that God’s wish is characterized as a prayer means that God is showing His desire and His will, His prayer, that man will be better and worthy of His bountiful blessing.

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