On the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh, when we bless the new month before mussaf, we ask Hashem for a month of חיים שיש בהם יראת שמים – life that has in it fear of Hashem. And then a few lines after that we say, חיים שתהא בנו אהבת תורה ויראת שמים – a life that has in us fear of Hashem. Why is it repeated?
That’s a good question. I’ll tell you something that I heard more than sixty years ago, from my chavrusa in Slabodka, a good bochur. The Germans killed him; Reb Aharon Birzer, zichrono livrocha. I’ll tell you what he said about this: We ask Hashem to give us חיים שיש בהם, a life that has in it yiras shomayim – a life of an environment of yiras shomayim; to live in an environment of awareness of Hashem and to breathe in the yiras shomayim. We should live this month among frum Jews, among good people, so that the environment encourages us to think about Hashem. And so חיים שיש בהם is the environment. Ask Hashem; “Give us a frum environment.”
After that we say: חיים שתהא בנו – we also want to have in ourselves yiras shomayim. In addition to our environment, we want to have it too, inside of ourselves. The environment is a tremendous thing. Many people are frum because of their environment. It’s very good; but it’s even better when in addition to the environment, you add your own little addition too – so we ask that it should be a month in which we achieve חיים שתהא בנו יראת שמים; we want to achieve Awareness of Hashem in ourselves as well.
TAPE # E-244 (August 2000)