I liked the following insight that appeared in the Hebrew “Shabbat BeShabbato” pages this week (Parshat Naso, No. 1526), written by Ya’akov Etzion.
Ya’akov gives an innovative explanation for a phrase in Friday night davening that I have always found difficult. In the Magen Avot prayer after the Amidah, the following words appear: “we will give thanks to His name every day continuously, me’ein ha-berachot“. What do these two last words actually mean?
The Gemara (Berachot 40a) explains the meaning to be: “Every day we should give Him the blessing appropriate to the day (me’ein ha-berachot).” But this explanation seems far removed from the simple meaning of the words.
Ya’akov Etzion notes that early manuscripts (including that of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, which is accessible on the Internet) indicate that the original wording was actually Ma’on Ha-berachot = an alias for God! (Ma’on can mean a Repository or House). Yemenites until today have this wording in their Siddurim. Indeed, the Cairo Geniza even juxtaposes the two in the “Sim Shalom” blessing: “Ma’aon Ha-berachot ve’Oseh Ha-shalom.”
The beracha thus states that God is: “the Repository of blessing, the God to whom thanksgiving is due, Master of peace, Who sanctifies the Shabbat and blesses the Seventh Day.”
Of course, read in this light, the Chazan would need to sing the words as one continuous unit, rather than breaking them up into a separate stanza (-: