17: Chai — Life — Eighteen: The Backbone of Tefillah

Vulnerability and imperfection are inherent to the post-Eden nature of our physical lives. We aspire to perfection in our thoughts, resolving that our actions will become more perfect as a result.

The 18 morning blessings arouse gratitude for the resources with which to work our way [back] to a place of greater perfection. We are blessed with the opportunity to grow up, and build an intimate relationship with Hashem.

This pattern of 18 forms the armature upon which the morning prayers are layered: 18 Birchos HaShachar, 18 verses in Yehi Chavod, 18 mentions of Hashem's Name in Shiras HaYam, in Shema, in Emes VeYatziv, U'Va LeTziyon, and 18 blessings of Shemone Esrei. Layer by layer, we illuminate and integrate the awareness that Hashem's blessing infuses all aspects of the world.

"Whoever willingly allows himself to be guided by the blessings, whoever utters the prescribed 'one hundred blessings' daily and thus seizes upon every enjoyment as an occasion to thank God and to praise Him, and who utilizes every wish as an occasion to turn toward God for its gratification — whoever does so will be filled with an ever-deepening consciousness of the exalted and with an essential fear of God. … these blessings support and carry the sanctuary of our lives." (R' Elie Munk, The World of Prayer, pg. 14)


• Check out Session 08: Introduction to Brachos for more about brachos in general, and Birchos HaShachar in particular.

•  This shiur provides a good basis for focusing on our Avoda of the Yom Kippur service. Click here for further application to our prayers and Teshuva on Yom Kippur.