Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #34-35

[adapted for middle-schoolers by Rabbi Shmuel Jablon from Rav Aviner's three-volume commentary on the siddur "Tefilat Amecha"]

In Barchu the Chazan says "Bless Hashem, the blessed One" and we respond "Blessed is Hashem, the blessed One, for all eternity". The Gemara says that the one who answers is greater than the one that makes the blessing. What's going on here? When we pray as an individual, it is just ourselves. But when we are joined with others, we clearly become part of Klal Yisrael. So our prayers have more importance and strength. So in Barchu the Chazan gathers together a bunch of individuals and we become a strong community. And notice when we respond, we say Hashem should be blessed forever. This connects us with every Jew forever and ever. So once again our Tefillot go beyond ourselves and join with the rest of Klal Yisrael.

The first blessing before Kriyat Shema blesses Hashem who created everything in nature. We also say that He creates both the light and the dark. We know that Hashem loves us and takes care of us, which means everything is for the good, even if we don’t always see or understand why something is good. So the darkness, both at night time and the darkness that can sometimes happen in our lives, is eventually for the good as it’s all from Hashem. We are not like some of the ancient people who believed in a good god and a bad god. Hashem is One and everything He does is for the good, even if it takes us a very long time to see it.