"Judah, your brothers shall praise you.. " (Gen. 49:8)

It says in the Patach Eliyahu prayer from the Zohar (found in many Chassidic prayerbooks before Mincha for Shabbat Eve and in Sephardic prayerbooks before Shacharit and Mincha every day - see the articles beginning with Elijah's Prayer Meditation), "No thought can grasp Him at all". If so, how is it possible that we make our blessings "Blessed are You…", referring to G‑d in the familiar second person?

A person must encourage himself to know and believe with absolute faith that G‑d doesn't minimize or turn away any prayer directed to Him. No matter how spiritually unadvanced a person may be, G‑d still has satisfaction and delight from his prayer. Consider how many angels spring to attention as a Jew begins to pray…

In addition, one should understand that the goodness of G‑d is very great. Even if one feels that he has no energy or motivation and cannot pour out his heart freely, G‑d nevertheless has pleasure from his prayer.

Therefore a person should prepare before beginning to pray to G‑d. Consider how many angels spring to attention as a Jew begins to pray. There are spinning and whirling angels (called "ofanim"), burning angels like fiery wheels burning in the air (called "serafim"), and enlivening angels (called "chayot hakodesh ") who all stand before the Throne of Glory calling out, "Where is the place of His Glory that we might praise Him?" Consider what we say in prayer: "All of them are beloved, pure, awesome and holy. They all perform the will of their maker in perfect awe and respect."

If the angels, who are part of the heavenly family, in constant close contact with G‑d, still feel this awe everyday, how much more so we who are not as familiar in the heavenly spheres, should feel the same when we stand in tefillah before the Holy One Blessed Be He. G‑d fashioned the Creation in order that it enjoy the maximum benefit from His goodness…

G‑d fashioned the Creation in order that it enjoy the maximum benefit from His goodness. When one asks for one's needs in prayer, G‑d, by bestowing his goodness on the Creation, enters into partnership with him. For G‑d, this is a source of great delight.

The message is clear, don't throw away your prayer, for it carries significant weight! Even if you don't fully understand what you are doing, a great tumult occurs in the heavens when a Jew, any Jew, approaches G‑d in prayer.

Now we can answer our question and gain an incredible insight into our verse. How are we allowed to praise G‑d using the familiar second person? Malchut is the soul food of the Jew…

Malchut is the soul food of the Jew. The malchut of Community of Israel was invested in Judah, yet it is a component of the soul of every Jew who is involved in Torah and mitzvot and acts of chesed accompanied by a sense of awe and wonderment. This is the reason the Jewish people are called "Yehudim", from the root word "Judah".

Therefore, "Judah" represents the aspect of royalty which is latent in every Jew. The moment we begin to praise and acknowledge G‑d by saying "Blessed…", the worlds come to attention and the aspect of "Judah" is activated. The phrase "...your brothers shall praise you..." means that having ascended to the level of royalty gives us the right to then say "You" - in the second person familiar.

This is the prayer from which G‑d has such great delight. This is the partnership through which we can fulfill our spiritual potential and participate in guiding our generation to an age of universal peace, understanding and knowledge of G‑d.

[Adapted from Kedushat Levi by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev; first published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Vayechi 5759; www.nishmas.org]