Vol 33.20 - Yud-Beit Yud-Gimel Tammuz 1 Spanish French Audio Video
(5747) Explanation of the Maamer s.v. "Baruch Hagomel" 5687: "Why is the Nusach of this blessing (of HaGomel)
different from the blessing on a miracle. For one says on a blessing on a miracle: Blessed be He who performed for
me a miracle and one does not mention in the blessing his obligation"
Debate in the difference between the bessing of HaGomel to the blessing on a miracle according to Halacha and Pnimiyut
Explanation of the Alter Rebbe (Iggeret HaKodesh ep. 2) that "because of the abundance of chassadim (kindnesses)"
Yaakov was concerned "perhaps his merits were ruined by sinning - that he appeared in his eyes that he had sinned"
1. The text of the HaGomel blessing (A person saved from a life-threatening situation) (according to Halacha) is:
“Blessed (are You...) Who bestows good things upon the culpable, Who has bestowed goodness upon me”.
ברוך כו׳ הגומל לחייבים טובות שגמלני טוב
Whereas the text of the blessing recited when a miracle occurs (for an individual) is:
“Blessed (are You...) Who performed a miracle for me in this place”.
ברוך כו׳ שעשה לי נס במקום הזה
The Rebbe Rayatz precisely
(in his Maamar that he said on Shabbat Kodesh (the fifteenth of Tammuz 5687/1927) after his redemption from imprisonment in that country)
states (these are his words):
“One must understand why the wording of this blessing differs from that of the blessing recited when a miracle occurs?
“Blessed (are You...) Who performed a miracle for me”
and he does not mention in his blessing any personal culpability (חובה). In other words, that he found some personal liability which caused him to be placed, G-d forbid, in danger, and that he personally admits that he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid, and it is just that G-d performed a miracle for him.
“Blessed (are You...) Who bestows good things upon the culpable
ברוך כו׳ הגומל לחייבים טובות שגמלני טוב
Where he mentions personal culpability (חוב), and he personally admits that he is culpable in this. However that it is from G-d’s kindnesses and G-d’s ways, that He, blessed be He, bestows good things, even to those who are culpable“. (So far, his words).
In the continuation of the Maamar, an answer is seemingly not afforded to this question.
(“Why is the wording of this blessing different from that of Birkat HaNisim”?)
Only after he cites the aspect of “Four must offer thanks to G-d’ which are four types of barriers and obstacles against serving G-d,
(through which a state of spiritual danger is created for a Jewish person)
and that G-d stands to the right of each person and gives him the power to overcome the barriers and obstacles – he concludes the Maamar with a short explanation in the nature of the recital of “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”.
The Rebbe Rayatz writes:
“This is the text of this blessing: “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”. For indeed, all Yisroel are obligated in Torah study and the fulfillment of Mitzvot . . and if, for whatever reason, one did not fulfill this – he is the guilty one (האשם) in this . . all the barriers and obstacles in the time of Galut are just tests (נסיונות) . . Therefore, in this blessing he mentions personal culpability”.
2. One could explain the answer to the aforementioned question, by prefacing:
The Beit Yosef explains the text of this blessing “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”:
“This is to say that, even those who are culpable (חייבים), in other words evildoers . . nevertheless (G-d) bestows upon them goodnesses, and even I am like one of them. For even though I am not worthy, He has bestowed me with all good”.
The inference of his explanation, is that the description “culpable” (חייבים) here, is like the translation “unworthy” (בלתי ראויים) to receive G-d’s kindnesses. In other words, that the person reciting the blessing gives thanks and praises G-d for doing this good with him, even though he is not worthy for it (“even though I am not worthy”).
However, in the Rebbe Rayatz‘s aforementioned Maamar, he explains that the aspect of mentioning “personal culpability” (חובה לעצמו) is that,
“He found culpability within himself which caused him to be placed, G-d forbid, in danger, and that he personally admits that he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”.
One could say, that this difference versus what the Beit Yosef writes, is relevant to the understanding of the answer of the question,
“why is the wording of this blessing different from that of Birkat HaNisim?”
If one should say that the intent of the recital of “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” is just to thank G-d for the good that was done with him, even though he is not worthy for it – it is puzzling. Why did they not enact this wording also for Birkat HaNisim?
Seemingly, it is just the opposite (כלפי לייא):
Birkat HaGomel is not just an obligation specifically for salvation that comes through a miracle. On the contrary, the four that need to give thanks are in conditions that one is able to leave peacefully, according to nature.
(which is why they are not also obligated in reciting a blessing over a miracle (Birkat HaNeis) unless they were saved through a specific miracle etc.)
Whereas regarding Birkat HaNeis - the obligation is over a miracle that transcends the (natural) conduct of the world.
If so, if for a natural salvation (בהצלה טבעית) one must thank G-d for the kindness that he bestows upon him “even though I am not worthy” - how much more so and it is a Kal v’Chomer that when one thanks G-d for overturning the machinations of nature, that one must add in the thanks, the emphasis that a miracle was performed for him “even though I am not worthy”.
3. Seemingly, there is a place to differentiate between Birkat HaGomel and Birkat HaNeis:
Birkat HaGomel is from the “blessings of thanks” (מברכות הודאה), where one thanks and praises G-d for the goodness that he attained. Therefore, there is a place to add, “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”, since this magnifies (מפליא), the kindness that was done for him (In other words, despite his not being worthy, nevertheless a kindness was done with him).
Whereas, Birkat HaNeis is from the blessings of sight (מברכות הראי׳), that one blesses for seeing the place where a miracle was performed for him. In other words, the blessing is on the essential performing of the miracle in this place.
(that shows G-d’s Greatness, where He has the power to overturn the machinations of nature).
Therefore, there is no place to add the detail of, “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” that is relevant to the person for whom this miracle was performed, and not to the actual performing of the miracle.
(besides that, when the miracle was performed for one who was not worthy, one could say that this is a much greater miracle)
this difference is not compelling (מוכרח).
For from the wording of the Birkat HaNeis (for an individual)
“Blessed (are You...) Who performed a miracle for me in this place”,
it proves that the thanks and praise are (not just on the actual miracle, but rather) over that which he is the “recipient of the miracle” (בעל הנם).
(which is why only,
“All that person’s children . . them and their descendants for all time (are obligated to recite the blessing) because they are all are partners in (i.e., beneficiaries of) that miracle”).
One could say, that in order to resolve this question, the Rebbe Rayatz adds that the explanation of “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” is that,
“he personally admits that he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”
For this is relevant solely in Birkat HaGomel, which is thanks on salvation. In other words, when beforehand there was a condition of danger and afterward he was saved from it. Therefore, it is applicable to say “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”, where,
“he personally admits that he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”
(In other words, through his guilt, a condition was created that required salvation from Above).
Whereas with Birkat HaNeis, it is not specifically over a miracle that is a salvation from a condition of danger.
This is similar to “One who sees . . the crossings of the Jordan”
(the place that Yisroel crossed during the time of Yehoshua).
This miracle (the splitting of the Jordan river) was not in the realm of salvation from a place of danger. Rather, it was just to ease their crossing of the Jordan river. From this it is understood, that when one recites a blessing over miracle of salvation, the blessing is not over the cessation of the dangerous condition, but rather on the actual kindness, namely, that G-d performed for him - a miracle.
Therefore, the aspect of “Who bestows good things upon the culpable”, is not fitting, in Birkat HaNeis. Since there is no necessity that the recipient of the miracle (בעל הנם) was in an undesirable condition (a danger, and so forth),
“he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid“
(Moreover, even if he were in such a condition – the intent of this blessing is not to give thanks for the nullification of this condition, as aforementioned).
(Similar to this is the difference between Birkat HaGomel and Birkat HaNeis in their inner meaning:
(In the four manners of “Four must offer thanks to G-d”).
However, even for this person, who entered himself into this condition, G-d gives him the power to be saved from danger, through “Who bestows good things upon the culpable, Who has bestowed goodness upon me” – (“There is no good except for Torah which is the true good”).
Therefore, we recite in this blessing “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” since it is connected with a condition of culpability (חייב) - spiritual danger. And the person thanks G-d that he saved him, even though, “he was culpable in the matter of danger”, as aforementioned.
(Above - from the expression, “I raise My standard” – from the nature of the world).
Therefore, the recital of the words, “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” is not applicable. for there is no condition of culpability (חייב) here. Rather, it is the opposite – the revelation of G-d).
4. However, seemingly, one must examine the aforementioned explanation:
Birkat HaGomel is a text pertaining to all Yisroel, even regarding complete Tzaddikim. It is seemingly, extremely puzzling to say that even a complete Tzaddik is,
“culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”?
It is well and good, according to the explanation of the Beit Yosef, where the intent of “culpability” (חייבים) refers to the aspect of receiving the good.
(That the person admits that he is not worthy and proper to receive this good).
One could say that this is also relevant to Tzaddikim. For due to their great humility, they consider themselves not fitting for G-d’s kindnesses.
This is similar to what we find regarding Yaakov who,
“Justified himself for his fear of Esau, and did not regard the (Divine) promise given to him as being sufficient . . because Yaakov regarded himself as utterly insignificant . . and he considered himself as being utterly unfit and unworthy to be saved . . for it appeared to him that he had sinned”.
However, how is it possible that even a complete Tzaddik must consider (and truly so) that he sinned, so much that he is “culpable in a matter of danger, G-d forbid”?
It is not even more not understood:
This explanation was said by the Rebbe Rayatz in conjunction with his redemption from imprisonment, where the natural reason for his imprisonment (“a dangerous matter”) was the “great Avodah” (העבודה הגדולה) that he accomplished in “spreading Torah and the strengthening of Judaism, that he toiled with until he had actual Mesirat Nefesh. This was a condition of merit, in the epitome of completeness and quality. Therefore, how is it possible to say that he “was culpable in the matter of danger, G-d forbid”?!
5. One can understand this through what is explained in the Iggeret (epistle 2) of the Alter Rebbe (which he wrote “after his return from Petersburg) in the explanation of the verse,
“I have become small from all the kindnesses” (קטונתי מכל החסדים)
The Alter Rebbe writes:
“With each and every kindness that G‑d bestows upon a person, he must be very humble. . For (the Supernal Sefirah of) “Chesed” . . is the level of G‑d actually bringing him close (to Himself) . . And whoever is (brought) exceedingly close to G‑d . . must be ever more humble . . whoever is closer to G‑d — is that much more like nothing, naught, and non-existent. . This is also the characteristic trait of Yaakov. . because Yaakov regarded himself as utterly insignificant on account of the multitude of (G‑d’s) kindnesses. . and he considered himself as being utterly unfit and unworthy to be saved, and so on. . . As our Sages, of blessed memory, expressed it, “(Yaakov was apprehensive) lest sin would cause (him not to be saved),”, for it appeared to him that he had sinned”.
From the continuation of his words, it is understood that even Yaakov’s “thinking that he had sinned” was a result of the “multitude of kindnesses”. In other words, that “G‑d bringing Yaakov close to Him” (through the multitude of kindnesses) affected within Yaakov, not just a feeling of smallness and lowliness (that he was exceedingly small in his eyes) but rather that it “appeared in his eyes that he had sinned”).
One could say that the reasoning of this is:
Yaakov’s apprehension that,
“perhaps sin would cause (him not to be saved), for it appeared to him that he had sinned”,
was not false humility, G-d forbid. In other words, that Yaakov mistook himself to think that he had transgressed G-d’s Will. Rather, this concern was created (נתחדש) through his being “brought exceedingly close to G-d”.
In other words:
Before he merited “G-d’s closeness”, Yaakov’s Avodah was with the epitome of completeness, without any lacking, at all. Only after he ascended to be “exceedingly close to G-d”, then (he thought that) his previous Avodah was considered as sin (even though before this, there was no lacking in his Avodah).
An example of this is the statement of the Sages that,
“even one who makes “a gesture (if it is) in the presence of the king”
is rebelling against the king. For when one stands before the king one must have complete Bitul, without any movement or motion, in the slightest.
However, this is just when one is standing before the king. Whereas, when one is not in the presence of the king, not only is it acceptable that his level of Bitul toward the king, is at a lesser level,
(for he accepts upon himself to fulfill the decrees of the king etc.)
but more than this – this is the will of the king. Namely, that a person not be at such a level of complete Bitul as this. For in such a state of Bitul, he is not apt to fulfill the dictates of the king, in the governance of the country etc.
We thus find, that when one is before the king – his normal service, when he is occupied in the country with its governance (even when it is at the epitome of completeness) is considered “like a sin”, since in the presence of the king, he only has Bitul to the king.
(As is explained in Sefarim, this is also the reason for the difference between weekdays where we are commanded “Six days may you work and perform all your labor” (and the Sages state that “this is a Positive Commandment”) versus the day of Shabbat where we are prohibited from doing labor.
On the day of Shabbat, G-d’s Holiness illuminates the world in a revealed manner. This is similar to standing before the king. Therefore, work is prohibited.
Whereas, during the weekdays, where G-d’s holiness is hidden in the world, this is like the inhabitants of the country who are found outside of the king’s palace. For at that time, the king’s will is that they engage - doing work for the settlement of the world etc.)
This is the explanation of Yaakov’s feeling that,
“it appeared in his eyes that he had sinned”.
For due to the “multitude of kindnesses” in which G-d lifted Yaakov up to be “exceedingly close to G-d”, his level - his smallness in his eyes due to his previous Avodat HaShem, was considered a sin.
Similarly, one could explain the text of the blessing, “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” regarding complete Tzaddikim:
Through this itself, that they are bestowed with kindness and good, this causes that they feel themselves as if they are “culpable” (חייבים). For in relation to their (present) great closeness to G-d (through this kindness) - their previous standing is in the realm of “culpability” (חייבים),
(even though, before this “being brought close to G-d”, their Avodah was at the epitome of the completeness),
6. However, the manner is still not resolved.
For the aforementioned explanation, is only sufficient to explain how it is possible that a complete Tzaddik should (truly) consider himself as “culpable”. However, in the Maamar, the Rebbe Rayatz explains (as aforementioned) the word “culpable” (חייבים) that,
“he admits that he was culpable in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”
Therefore, the puzzlement returns:
Indeed, although compared to his present standing in Avodah, the previous Avodah was not complete. Nevertheless, how is it possible to say that,
“he was culpable (before this) in the matter of the danger, G-d forbid”?
(It is extremely problematic to say that this explanation of, “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” just pertains to those who are not Tzaddikim, where it is applicable to say that they are liable (אשמים) in “a matter of the danger”).
One could say that the explanation of this is:
The reason that G-d places a Tzaddik in a condition of danger etc., is just in order to elevate him to a more lofty level. For specifically through the Avodah in the condition of “constraint” (מיצר) can one attain true expanse (מרחב). (As the verse states, “From the straits I called G-d; G-d answered me with a vast expanse”).
(This is similar to what is explained in the Maamar, in the aspect of the descent of the soul below.
(For the thanks in the HaGomel blessing in Avodat HaAdam is on the going out of the spiritual danger of this descent).
The intent of this descent is for the purpose of ascent. Through the Avodah of the soul in the refinement and polishing of the physical body (and the drawing down of holiness into physical things), the soul is elevated to a lofty level, and more than it was before its descent into a body.
This aspect also pertains to complete Tzaddikim. The aspect of one’s serving G-d, in this world, is a descent.
“For even . . a perfect tzaddik, serving G‑d with fear and abundant love of delights, will not attain to the quality of its attachment to G‑d . . (that the soul experienced) prior to its descent into this corporeal world, nor even (to) a fraction of (its earlier fear and love). In fact, there is no comparison or similarity whatever between them”.
However, this descent is for the purpose of ascent. For through their Avodah while they are specifically souls enclothed in bodies, they rise with elevation after elevation etc.).
Therefore, even a complete Tzaddik recites the blessing “Who bestows good things upon the culpable” – even though it is not applicable to say that he is “guilty” (אשם) “in the matter of a danger, G-d forbid”.
For his previous standing, that he was in the realm of “culpable” (חייבים) compared to the “closeness to G-d” that he merited through the bestowal of good, is the very thing that caused him to withstand this constraint, in order to attain this elevation (that comes through this constraint).
All these things, were seen, in actuality, in the redemption of the Rebbe Rayatz. For specifically after he endured the sufferings of the imprisonment, G-d forbid, there began a new era in his Avodah in the spreading of the Torah and strengthening of Judaism, in general, where his Avodah was expanded - it went to expanse (יצאה למרחב), so much so, that it was spread throughout the entire world (בכל קצוי תבל).
It was revealed to all, that the intent of the imprisonment was for the purpose of this ascent – to give the possibility to expand the Avodah - to spread Torah and Judaism – including the spreading of the wellsprings of Pnimiyut HaTorah - in all areas (מרחבי) (of all ends) of the world.
M’Sichas Yud-Beis Tammuz 5721, Shabbat Parshat Balak 5737
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