Kitzur Tefilat Amecha #58-59

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

The blessing of "Chonen Ha-Da’at" - you give man knowledge, is the first blessing specifically for the weekdays. Knowledge is a special gift given to human beings. The Rambam says that when the Torah says we were made in Hashem’s Image, it is talking about having knowledge. Because this is what makes us special among Hashem’s creations, it is the first blessing for the weekdays. We can use our knowledge for many things. We want to use our knowledge for that which is holy. When we say our wisdom comes "Mei-Itcha- from You" - we are recognizing that Hashem is the One who gave us any smarts we have. We did not earn it. It’s a gift from Hashem. So we have a special responsibility to use it to serve Hashem in every way that we can.

In the blessing of "Hashevenu" we ask Hashem to return us to His Torah. We are asking Hashem to help us return - which means to do Teshuvah. The first part of Teshuva comes from learning Torah. First we need to learn and understand that there is Hashem. Once someone understands this fact, they can begin to return to Hashem. And this return is to Hashem as our Father. Once this happens, Hashem can draw us near to His Avodah - His service. This is as our King. He has given us the Mitzvot and wants us to perform them. Then we can get to the highest level - complete Teshuvah before Hashem. This is when we have a close relationship with Hashem. Hashem wants us to achieve this. He wants us to perform Teshuvah and come close to Him. He wants this relationship. And so we ask Him for His help to truly return to Him.