Orach Chayim Index | Gevurot


Gevurot - G-d's Might


Atah gibor l'olam adonai, m'chayeh metim atah, rav l'hoshia

You are eternally mighty, my Master, the Resuscitator of the dead are You; abundantly able to save.


M'chalkel chayim b'chesed, m'chayeh metim b'rachamim rabim, someich nof'lim, v'rofe cholim, u-matir asurim, umkayem emunoto li-shenei afar. Mi chamocha ba'al g'vurot, u-mi domeh lach, melech memit umchayeh u-matzmiach y'shuah

He sustains the living with kindness, resuscitates the dead with abundant mercy, supports the fallen, heals the sick, releases the confined, and maintains His faith to those asleep in the dust. Who is like You, O Master of mighty deeds, and who is comparable to You, O King Who causes death and restores life and makes salvation sprout!


V'ne-eman atah l'hachayot metim. Baruch atah Hashem, m'chayeh hametim

And You are faithful to resuscitate the dead. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who resuscitates the dead.


Gevurot is the second blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei prayers. In this blessing we extol G-d's greatness in giving life, in restoring life, in providing the necessities of life. We mention His awesome powers over all creation, in conformance with the verse from Tehillim 29:1 "Ascribe unto Hashem glory and strength" (Megillah 17b). In doing so, we also imply the dependence of nature and all living things on G-d.


Power among human beings is generally defined in terms of one's ability to destroy. The most powerful persons or nations are those who can cause the greatest damage or lay waste the greatest numbers, who can subdue, imprison, or take away the freedom of people. We do not so define G-d's power. While G-d certainly has unlimited power, we emphasize that the real might of G-d lies in His ability to life to man and to earth, to sustain life, to heal the sick, to free the captives, to raise the fallen.


G-d's powers are defined in Tehillim 29, 104, among others, in terms of His acts of "loving kindness" (Chesed), by helping man when he is helpless.


In the Jewish value system, the act of loving kindness (chesed) that one performs for the dead by providing them with proper burial and treating their bodies in a dignified way is called a chesed shel emet (a true act of loving kindness). It so called because there can be no reciprocity attached to this selfless act. Even the High Priest, who was forbidden any contact with the dead, unable even to take part in the burial of his own parents, was required to defile himself to perform this chesed shel emet if he came upon an unburied corpse. The greatest expression of G-d's loving kindness is therefore what He can do for the dead.


The concept of G-d restores life is repeated three times is said to allude to three kinds of resuscitation: man's awakening every morning after deathlike slumber; the rain that has the life-sustaining quality of making vegetation grow; and the literal resuscitation of the dead, that will take place in the Messianic age (Abundraham).


Also, the three times repeating emphasis in this blessing on "making the dead to live" or "reviving the dead" reflects an ancient controversy with the Samaritans, which was later taken up by the Sadducees and others, who denied this belief (Sanhedrin 10:1; Rosh Hashanah 17a).


Talmud Bavli - Rosh Hashanah 17a


Wrongdoers of Yisrael who sin with their body7 and wrongdoers of the Gentiles who sin with their body go down to Gehinnom and are punished there for twelve months. After twelve months their body is consumed and their soul is burnt and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous as it says, And ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet.8 But as for the minim9 and the informers and the scoffers,10 who rejected the Torah and denied the resurrection of the dead, and those who abandoned the ways of the community,11 and those who ‘spread their terror in the land of the living’,12 and who sinned and made the masses sin, like Yarovam (Jeroboam) the son of Nevat and his fellows — these will go down to Gehinnom and be punished there for all generations, as it says, And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have rebelled against me13 etc. Gehinnom will be consumed but they will not be consumed, as it says, and their form shall wear away the nether world.14


7 This is explained infra.

8 Mal. 3:21.

9 V. Glos. The reference is probably to the Judeo-Christians, as the Sadducees would be included under ‘those who denied the resurrection’.

10 those who treat the Rabbis and students of the Torah with disdain. If this is meant, then we should insert with MS.M. the words ‘and those’ before the word ‘who’.

11 Rashi deletes these words, (on the ground that they do not designate a separate class, but are a general description of all the classes mentioned.

12 A phrase borrowed from Yechezkel 32:23. It is explained infra.

13 Yeshayahu 66:24.

14 Tehillim 49:15.


The Talmud, however, declares that G-d will make the dead to live again (techiat hametim) a doctrine so central to Jewish life that its denial is deemed a heresy for which one forfeits a share in the Olam HaBah (World To Come). Maimonides (1135-1204) includes it among his thirteen principles of faith because, aside from creation, it is the ultimate expression of Divine power (though not necessarily the ultimate spiritual reward).


 If G-d was able to create [from nothing] that which had never existed, He can certainly recreate that which had already existed.


In the Hebrew, we say "You" and G-d's Name three times in the first verse of this prayer. There were three prophets (Eliyahu, Elisha, and Yechezkel), as well as some Sages in talmudic times who brought the dead back to life. (1Melachim 17:22; 2Melachim 4:35; Yechezkel 37:10) The Talmud says that G-d personally holds three "keys" to the world. (Taanit 2a) One of them is the "key" of rain, and one is resurrection of the dead.


Talmud - Mas. Ta'anit 2a - 2b


R. Johanan said: Three keys the Holy One blessed be He has retained in His own hands and not entrusted to the hand of any messenger, namely, the Key of Rain, the Key of Childbirth, and the Key of the Revival of the Dead. The Key of Rain, for It is written, Hashem will open unto you His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain of your land in its season,20 The Key of Childbirth, for it is written, And G-d remembered Rachel, and G-d hearkened to her, and opened her womb.1 The Key of the Revival of the Dead, for it is written, And you shall know that I am Hashem, when I have opened your graves.2 In Palestine they said: Also the Key of Sustenance, for it is said, You open Your hand etc.3 Why does not R. Johanan include also this [key]? — Because in his view sustenance is [included in] Rain.4


20 Devarim 28:12.

1 Bereishit 30:22. R. Joshua stresses the connection between mafteach key (lit., opener’) and the verb patach to open, in the verses cited.

2 Yechezkel 37:13.

3 Tehillim 145:16.

4 Since it comes through rain.


Those people who have resurrected the dead have been able to do so only because G-d granted them the power to resurrect. We should not think that anyone has this as an independent ability, alongside of G-d. The ability always comes from the same source - G-d. That is why we reinforce three times in this verse that this power comes from You, G-d.


Also, within this prayer the sentence "He makes the wind blow and He makes the rain descend" is added depending upon the season, because it does not rain during the summer in Eretz Yisrael. Rain is not beneficial there at that time. Therefore, we begin saying these words during the holy day of Shemini Atzeret (8th day) in the fall, and stop saying them during the holy day of Pesach in the spring.


This idea is consistent with G-d's power, which is demonstrated by His causing it to rain when rain is proper and causing it not to rain when it would be detrimental.


Once we recognize G-d's power in this prayer, we then praise Him that He gives it to us. Saying that G-d causes "the rain to fall" is not truly a request for rain; rather, it is a praise to G-d in recognition of His power. We make an actual request for rain later in the Shemoneh Esrei, in the ninth prayer.


The statement about G-d making the wind blow and causing the rain to fall follows the statement about His power and His reviving the dead with great salvation. In addition to the literal definitions of "wind" and "rain," both of these statements also refer to revival of the dead. That G-d "makes the wind blow" means that He blows back into corpses the souls they once had. That He "makes the rain fall" means that He gives the resurrected people the nurturing that they need to continue to exist.





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