The Fear of Berachot by Eitan Leff


In  Parashat Va’Etchanan we are instructed, “Et Hashem Elokecha Tira”, “Hashem your God you shall fear” (Devarim 6:13). While in Parashat Eikev, Moshe tells Bnei Yisra’el, “Ve’Atah Yisra’el, Ma Hashem Elokecha Sho’el Mei’Imach, Ki Im Le’Yir’ah Et Hashem Elokecha”, “And now, Yisra’el, what does Hashem ask from you? Only to fear Hashem your God” (Ibid 10:12). In both instances, Moshe Rabbeinu is instilling within us the importance of Yir’at Hashem (fear of Hashem).

        In Berachot (33b), Rabi Chanina states that everything is in the hands of Hashem, except for Yir’at Hashem, which he derives from our Pasuk in Eikev. Rabi Chanina continues that the only item in Hashem’s treasury is the treasure of Yir’at Hashem, based on the Pasuk of “Yir’at Hashem Hi Otzaro” “the fear of Hashem is His treasure” (Yeshayahu 33:6). Yir’at Shamayim is clearly something that Hashem does not control, yet it is still very precious to Him; therefore, it is our job to fear Hashem, not Hashem’s job to fear Himself.

In Menachot (43b), Chazal understand the words “Ma Hashem Sho’el Mei’Imach” as a Remez (hint) to the word ”Mei’ah.” Therefore, instead of “What does Hashem ask from us”, the Pasuk means, “Hashem asks for one hundred from us.” This is the source requiring a person to recite 100 Berachot every day. Chazal connect the two words “Ma Hashem” in the context of Yir’at Hashem to Berachot, so clearly there must be a link between them. But what could possibly relate Yir’at Shamayim to reciting 100 Berachot a day?

Rav Yosef Beifus, in his Sefer Chayim Shel Torah, records a Mashal about a village with a small road, usually empty, passing straight through the town. As the road became busier and busier, the town was eventually split down the middle by this popular road. The town, in an effort to reunite the two halves, decided to add speed bumps to the road to slow down the traffic. The town represents every individual, and the road represents life. When life was just a quiet, seldom used road, keeping the Mitzvot was easy. Then life became much busier and observing the Mitzvot consequently became more difficult. When this happens, we need to establish speed bumps to slow down life’s pace and regain focus of what’s important, keeping the Mitvot.  This Mashal of Rav Yosef Beifus comes to teach us that throughout life, we must always consider how we can best fulfill the Mitzvot, and realize that we are constantly standing in the presence of HaKadosh Baruch Hu..

The Rama, at the beginning of Orach Chaim (1:1) records that “Shiviti Hashem LeNegdi Tamid”, “I have placed Hashem before me constantly” (Tehillim 16:8). Remembering that Hashem is omnipresent is of the utmost importance, because a person will act much more appropriately if they always keep this in mind. This could explain why Chazal instruct us to make 100 Berachot a day. Each one of these Berachot, made with proper Kavana, reminds us of Hashem’s presence, and leads to a heightened sense of Yir’at Shamayim.

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