Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Morning Kavvanah, 3/17/2011 - What are we?

Reflecting on the equalizing nature of prayer, I lingered momentarily this morning over the series of questions posed in the earliest part of the Shaharit service.

מָה אֲנַחְנוּ מֶה חַיֵּינוּ מֶה חַסְדֵּנוּ מַה צִּדְקֵנוּ מַה יְשְׁעֵנוּ מַה כּחֵנוּ מַה גְּבוּרָתֵנוּ.
Mah anahnu, meh hayyeinu, meh hasdenu, mah tzidkenu, mah yish'enu, mah kohenu, mah gevuratenu.
What are we? What is our life? What is our piety? What is our righteousness? What is our attainment? What is our power? What is our might?

Based on the confessions of R. Yohanan and Mar Shemuel in the Babylonian Talmud (Massekhet Yoma 87b), this litany serves as a reminder to be humble, that each of us is individually insignificant. Today is Ta'anit Esther, the fast that precedes Purim. A wee bit of daily humility can go a long way, and all the more so on a fast day.

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