Shir Ha-Ma'alot #15

Fourth blessing of the Bircat Ha-Mazon – Part 1

"The Blessing of ‘Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv - Who is good and who does good’ was established by the Sages in Yavneh, in memory of the slain Jews of Beitar, as Rav Matna said: The day on which the slain Jews of Beitar were afforded burial, the Sages in Yavneh established the Blessing of ‘Who is good and who does good.’ ‘Who is good’ because the bodies did not decay and ‘Who does good’ because they were afforded burial" (Berachot 48b). After the Romans crushed the Bar Kochba revolt, the evil emperor Hadrian denied burial to all of the hundreds of thousand slaughtered sacrifices in order to break the Nation’s spirit, and to cause a desecration of Hashem’s Name. After the passage of years, the decree was rescinded and there was a double miracle: the bodies of the fighters were afforded burial and it was also retroactively clarified that they did not decay. This was on Tu Bishvat - the fifteenth of Shvat (Ta’anit 31a). One who sacrifices his life for the sanctification of Hashem’s Name, the soul overpowers the body and holds it in place. The same applies in our days: two righteous individuals, Eliyahu Chakim and Eliyahu Beit-Tzuri, sacrificed their lives in Egypt to kill an evil Englishman named Lord Mavin who caused us much distress. After many years, the Egyptians returned the bodies to us, and it became clear that they remained in perfect form, and someone who had earlier known them, was amazed by the fact that their facial features were preserved (see Sichot Rabbenu 49, pg. 15). But one can question the longer version of this blessing. The accepted shorter version is: "Who is good and who does good." What did our Sages see to establish such great length here: "the Almighty, our Father, our King, our Sovereign, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, our Holy One, Holy One of Yaakov, our Shepherd, the Shepherd of Israel, the King who is good and who does good for all. For every single day He did good..."?
Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, explained that this was in order to mislead the enemy. The Romans looked with an evil eye on this blessing of "Who is good and who does good" which magnified the heroism of Beitar, and they trailed after the Jews in order to ensure that they did not recite it, our Sages therefore hid it amongst a sea of words, in order that the Romans would not sense it. A similar phenomenon exists in relation to the recitation of the Shema which was forbidden to us. We therefore hid the verse "Shema Yisrael - Hear Israel" in the Kedushah of the reader’s repetition of the Musaf Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat.