75 words for 75 years of Israel – Ratzon/Desire

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

רָצוֹן

RATZON

RAH-TZONE

DESIRE

“May the words of my mouth and the prayer of my heart be desirable to You, God, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:15)

יהיו לרצון אמרי פי והגיון לבי לפניך יהוה צורי וגאלי.

“I will bring them to My sacred mount and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be desirable on My altar; for My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7)

והביאותים אל הר קדשי ושמחתים בבית תפלתי עולתיהם וזבחיהם לרצון על מזבחי כי ביתי בית־ תפלה יקרא לכל העמים.

In Hebrew, ratzon means both “desire” and “will.” As servants of God, we must do our best to make our actions desirable before God. We are also instructed to ensure our prayers are acceptable to God, as King David says, “May the words of my mouth and the prayer of my heart be desirable to You, God, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalms 19:15). This verse is recited at the end of many Jewish prayers as a request that our prayers be deemed fitting and acceptable before God.

The sages teach, “Do His will as though it were your will,” instructing us to align the way we live our desires with God’s desires. In humility, we seek to nullify our own personal desires and fully accept God’s will as our own. 

The word ratzon is related to the word yetzer, meaning “inclination.” Each of us possesses two internal inclinations that compete to guide and influence our everyday decisions and actions. There is the yetzer ha’tov, the positive inclination, and the yetzer ha’ra, the negative inclination. The quality of our lives is determined by how much we allow each of these inclinations to overpower the other.

The Hasidic teachers explain that “nothing stands before our desire.” If we deeply and seriously desire to accomplish something in the realm of the spirit, nothing can prevent us from doing so! Our will is more powerful than we realize. When God sees that we truly desire holiness, He will help us achieve it.

The Israel Bible Team

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