Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
Dor Revi'i

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by Efraim Levine

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HaGoan R' Aaron Levine zt"l
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Hadrash Ve-Haiyan


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You will eat, you will be satisfied and you will bless your God for the good land that he gave you (Devarim 8:10).

The Elya Rabba (Orach Chaim 185) takes note that in the birchas hamazon blessing all the letters of the aleph beis appear with the exception of the “end pei.” The Elya Rabbah explains that according to the esoteric teachings of kabala the end pei is associated with demons and harmful spirits. Chazal purposely omitted the end pei to underscore that the intense holiness of this blessing does not allow for a trace of anything harmful or impure.

Let us suggest another homiletic interpretation.

Upon leaving the rest room we are required by halacha to recite the asher yatzar blessing. In shulchan aruch (6) the mechaber uncharacteristically goes to great lengths to explain the text of this blessing. When discussing the concluding phrase “u’maphli la’asos” he explains that the root of “u’maphli” is the word “pelah” i.e., translated as wonder. In his second explanation of the relation between “wonder” and the theme of asher yatzar the mechaber explains that we thank Hashem for the great wonder of the human digestive system, specifically, the ability of the body to extract the nutrients and separate the remaining toxins as waste.

Let us take note that the root of the concluding phrase of asher yatzar is a word that begins with the letter pei, i.e., pelah.

Let us suggest that chazal cleverly left out the end pei in the birchas Hamazon blessing to hint that our birchas hamazon is incomplete until we encounter the pei that comes at the end. This alludes to the asher yatzar blessing, which concludes with the pei of “pelah.” i.e., wonder. Only after we encounter the asher yatzar blessing and reflect upon the wonder that the body has the ability to separate the good portion of food and remove the poisonous toxins, do we fully appreciate the complete blessing of our sustenance.

Thus, homiletically we may say that the complete birchas hamazon does include all the letter of the aleph beis, after we join it with the asher yatzar blessing.


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Efraim Levine 5761/2001