Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 14 September 2013 / 10 Tishri 5774

Remember Us For Life

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

“Remember us for life, O King who desires life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life, For Your sake, O Living G-d.”

Why do we ask G-d to write us in the book of life after we've already asked to be remembered for life? Are both of these petitions not a request for the same thing? Furthermore, what is meant by the phrase “King who desires life”?

G-d's decision to create Man was, in effect, a decision to give him life. Each year, on the day of Man's creation, G-d re-decides, so to speak, whether or not to continue giving life to Man.

Let us look at how this process works:

G-d's original desire to create was not influenced by Man or by his merits, since he did not exist yet. It was rather a decision that was initiated and motivated entirely by G-d, in order to bestow of His goodness upon His creations ― foremost of them, Man. Accordingly, it is taught, based on the Kabbalah,that during the first six days of creation G-d caused to emanate a Divine life-giving light from Himself. This initial radiance is the primordial light that brought the world into being. It is further explained that even today, there still remains a glimmer of this light which represents a continuation of G-d’s original desire to create, and it therefore abounds whether or not we are deserving of His goodness.

Once however, Man was created, it is mainly through his efforts that G-d's Divine, life-giving light, emanates down to the world from above. Man was handed down the mission, of arousing within G-d, so to speak, a continued desire to create and rule over His world. This is the deeper meaning of the saying that there can be no king without a nation. In fact, the essential role of the Jewish people on Rosh Hashanais to accept and crown G-d as King, thereby arousing within Him, as it were, a desire to lower Himself, and remain involved in the world and its people.

“Remember us for life … [and] inscribe us in the Book of Life.”

And so, we beseech G-d, “Remember, O L-rd, the moment when You first decided to give us life. It was the moment that preceded all of creation, the moment when it surfaced in Your thoughts to make Man.As our beloved King, Your one and only desire at that moment was to bestow Your goodness upon us, And just as then (when we surfaced in Your thoughts), Your decision to give us life stemmed, not from any of our merits, but from Your Divine desire to do so. Today, “O King Who desires life”, we recall that desire, and beseech You to “Inscribe us in the book of life,” even if we lack the necessary merit.

According to the above, we can answer that we are asking G-d for life only one time. In order to arouse G-d’s desire to bestow life out of pure kindness, we first ask that He recall the initial moment of Creation. Only after we present our petition and say, “Inscribe us in the Book of Life,” do we actually ask Him to grant us life for another year.

“For Your sake, O Living G-d”

It was mentioned above that after Man was created, it is through him that G-d’s desire to sustain the world is drawn down from above. Therefore, in order to further increase our chances of being granted life, we proclaim our resolve to mend our ways. In view of the fact that we committed many sins in the past, we now resolve to commit to living a life “for Your sake” so that we may fulfill G-d's original desire to have a nation devoted exclusively to doing His will.

“O Living G-d”

Why do we mention that G-d is a “Living G-d”? G-d is the source of all life, and therefore, the only way to truly be alive is by attaching ourselves to Him through Torah and mitzvot, which stem from His Will and His Wisdom. Accordingly, saying the words “Living G-d” confirms our acknowledgment that He is the true Source of our lives.

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