Avinu Malkeinu: Our Father, Our King

Avinu Malkeinu: Our Father, Our King

Once in a time of great drought, the Talmudic sages decreed fast and public prayers, but to no avail—the rain did not fall. Then Rabbi Akiva came to lead the prayers, and he opened by saying, “Avinu Malkeinu, our Father, our King, we have no king but you.” At once, his prayers were accepted and rain fell. (Tannit 25b) When the people saw that he was answered with this prayer, they added it to their supplications and petitions.

Over time, many more short prayers beginning with the words Avinu Malkeinu were composed. The power of these words lies in the dual aspect of relating to our Creator—as a Father and as a King. A child calls his parent “father,” even if his parent is the greatest of rulers. Avinu (“our father”) is a cry, a yearning of a child for his father. Malkeinu (“our king”) is the call of a servant to his king. Although the servant may have a very important position in the king’s court, even that of a minister, there is always a measure of distance in the servant-king dynamics, which reflects the reality of our physical world.

Our souls are rooted in Divine oneness; we are truly a part of God above. As far as our souls are concerned, God is our Father, our Source of being. Our bodies, however, function in a universe of apparent separateness, a world of distance. On its own, the best that the body can feel is like a servant serving its master.

Both Father and King represent the “giver” in the relationship. We come to God as receivers of Divine blessings, and we plead, “listen to us from all levels of our reality.” If we are more soul-oriented than body-oriented, have mercy on us and send us Your blessings, like a father who shows instinctive mercy on his children. But if the opposite is true, then please recognize our struggle and realize that, at the very least, we are like Your servants and our eyes are turned to You.


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