By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER
“Who has a share in the World to Come? Whoever joins the ‘Redemption’ blessing to the Amidah” (Berachot 4B). We proceed without pause or interruption – not even saying “Amen!” – from the final blessing following the morning Shema [“Ga’al Yisrael” – praising God as “Redeemer of Israel”] to our individual recitation of the Amidah. So critical is this principle, Rabbi Yochanan suggests, that compliance brings reward of eternal life in the hereafter!
The opening blessing of the Amidah also speaks of Redemption, praising God for “remembering the virtues of our ancestors and bringing a Redeemer [Go’el] to their children’s children.” Together, “Ga’al Yisrael” and this blessing create a continuous exploration of Redemption… a cohesive literary unit.
Redemption means transcending evil… ultimate fulfillment… a joyful, worthy, honorable role in God’s unfolding plan.
This liturgical protocol makes it absolutely clear: we neither seek nor experience Redemption as individuals (as by personally subscribing to a dogmatic, theological principle or creed). For Jews, Redemption is a national and multi-generational process… involving our distant ancestors and our descendants: “our children’s children.” Accordingly, Passover Seders celebrate our redemption from Egypt with a focus on transmission of faith and memory from one generation to another.
“Jewish continuity” is not just a contemporary buzzword; it is our path to Redemption… and to Eternal Life.
Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the past National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.