Q: What is it that Hashem wants from us with this process of Shevach? In our prayers “shevach” is associated with strong language, like:
- לְפִיכָךְ אֲנַֽחְנוּ חַיָּבִים לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ וּלְשַׁבֵּחֲךָ וּלְפָאֶרְךָ וּלְבָרֵךְ וּלְקַדֵּשׁ וְלִתֵּן שֶֽׁבַח וְהוֹדָיָה לִשְׁמֶֽךָ- Therefore, we are obligated to thank You, to praise You
- עָלֵֽינוּ לְשַׁבֵּֽחַ לַאֲדוֹן הַכֹּל -It is our obligation to praise the Master of all.
The concept of elevation, lifting up, making more, Profitable, finding something more than was before , enhanced value, humbling, all came up as definitions for “Shevach“.
Q: However, if it is an obligation, then is it a Mitzvah?
Q: Is it a Middah?
Q: Where do we see this process first in the Torah?
The Process of Creation:
The concept of Shevach develops I believe right from the very first story of Creation in Beraishit , with Hashem’s insertion of this Middah as I see it.
Each day of creation He revealed, “more and more”, until he created The Adam with the higher soul , with superiority to the rest of creations, and formed him in His image, to elevate the world, the highest form of Shevach I would think. (Beraishit 1)
Adam’s first prayer, seems to be a form of Shevach when we use the definitions from Chazal. He knew there was a need in the world for rain and asked Hashem to “make it better” with rain. (Beraishit 2:5) It was an opportunity to expand Hashem’s presence in the world!
וּכְשֶׁבָּא אָדָם וְיָדַע שֶׁהֵם צֹרֶךְ לָעוֹלָם,
When Adam came (was created), however,
and he realized that it was necessary for the world
הִתְפַּלֵּל עֲלֵיהֶם וְיָרְדוּ וְצָמְחוּ הָאִילָנוֹת וְהַדְּשָׁאִים (Rashi)
He prayed for it and it fell, so that trees and verdure sprang forth.
When he uses this midda it triggers his Neshama to become a living soul.
“And Hashem Breathed into his nostrils a living soul.” (Beraishit, 2:7)
So we see how Shevach leads to an enhanced Adam and more.
Mitzvah of “Al”
The first Mitzvah given to Adam in Gan Eden is presented to him.
וַיְצַו֙ ה׳ אֱלֹקים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל
And the Hashem, The Source of all powers, commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat…
The Medrash Rabba (Koheles 7) hones in these words עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם. The very same word we find by עָלֵֽינוּ לְשַׁבֵּֽחַ . The Medrash describes Hashem taking Adam for a walk in the garden “Al” overlooking the trees. The Mitzvah was for Adam to “See” Hashem’s works and see how beautiful and profitable they are! רְאֵה מַעֲשַׂי כַּמָּה נָאִים וּמְשֻׁבָּחִין הֵן.
Ramchal speaks about this concept in Daas Tevunos:
“Hashem gives the person whom He has given a Mitzvah to, the power to rectify creation through his actions. As a result of His love for the Jewish people, He attached them to Him, and gave them at Har Sinai the ability to be Shomer all His mitzvos and their Divine service would have the ability to to perfect the entire creation” This is what is meant by the words, “You shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemos 19:6).
From then on the Jewish people became separated from the other nations and crowned with the supernal ability to keep all the Mitzvos and to perfect the entire creation through them. This ability is renewed continuously and never leaves them. ”
I think that in the same way the Malbim defined Shevach as “יֶ֥תֶר שְׂאֵ֖ת” and Rashi connected it it to the Kohen’s role in נשיאות כפים; I think the concept of Shevach is to use our divine Neshama powers to perform our mitzvos, our davening in such a way that we are lifting our hands, or elevating the world like Kohanim as Hashem said to us at Har Sinai.
I believe it is such an integral part of us and is part of the mitzvah of “Each person is obligated to see himself every day as if he is then receiving the Torah from Har Sinai” in order to really be someone who can truly perfect and elevate the world as is the definition of Shevach.
I think this is what Hashem wanted from Adam with the words “Vayitzav Al” to lift , elevate oneself and the world, to beautify the world Hashem created. Also known as a world of Moshiach.
Each time we sing these words in our prayers, we are given an opportunity to elevate and perfect, and literally breath life into each world upon world.
May we prepare our tefillos, and access this Power Hashem gave to us at Har Sinai to be לְשַׁבֵּֽחַ לַאֲדוֹן הַכֹּל in our prayers and through all our Mitzvos Biezras Hashem.