Rav Daniel Kohn (left) and Eli Schwebel


Eli: Gut morgen, Rebbe.

Rav Daniel: Great to be back together. I want to move on and complete the opening of a berachah with the final words: “Elokeinu” and “Melech ha’olam.”

Eli: Really everything’s been so intimate until now; here we’re getting beyond ourselves, into Hashem’s power, right?

Rav Daniel: Well, yes and no. It’s true that Hashem’s Name expresses His rachamim—Y-H-V-H bringing us into existence, “growing” us—while Elokim is His din—power and boundaries, so, yes, it’s His power. But here’s a funny thing. We make this power-Name personal and say “Elokeinu,” something we can’t do with the first Name. That’s because His making boundaries also means He makes uniqueness, which is the secret of making a special and unique connection with us!

Eli: Actually, this gets a little weird. When we say “Elokeinu,” does that mean we are His or He is ours??

Rav Daniel: Exactly!

Eli: Wait, what do you mean, exactly?

Rav Daniel: Just that ambivalence. It’s deep, Eli. Din makes it possible for this to be a special connection … and it runs both ways. He empowers us and is powerful over us. It’s both. He is totally committed to and invested in us, so, in a way, He’s ours. And, of course, we are His.

Eli: Wow, it feels right to open to that … you only get it when you stop trying to make it one or the other.

Rav Daniel: Yes, that’s the way true relationships are …

And then we say “Melech ha’olam.” On the one hand, “Melech ha’olam” opens our awareness to the universal context for ourselves and the thing we are about to bless—it, we, are part of a big world and our eating this is part of a big story. But there’s another aspect of Hashem as “Melech.” It’s G-d as a guide dedicated to our growth—the word shares its root with לך, to walk; hence, a melech is molich—He “moves others forward.” Then we say He’s the “Melech ha’olam”—He is the Guide for the world.

Now, lots of people say that “olam” comes from “hidden” because the world hides Him. Personally, I think that’s a bit sad to see things that way … To me, “olam” is a beautiful word which means “world” and comes from the root עלם, which means “young” (an עלם is a young man). Indeed, G-d is ancient, but He is our Guide because we are forever young. He’s dedicated to our ongoing, childlike journey of discovery, committed to our לך לך which makes creation ongoing newness. He loves us for that, is Elokeinu because of that … because we share creativity and “the quest” with Him.

Eli: Yes! That’s the kind of King I want.

Rav Daniel: That’s the kind of King we have … אבינו מלכנו, mamesh! 

Please look out in the coming weeks for more transcribed installments of Siddur Alive, and continue to follow @ HYPERLINK “https://www.instagram.com/elischwebel/” EliSchwebel on Instagram to see them in engaging video format.


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