Question: What does the “faithful” mean in the phrase said before the Shema prayer – “El melekh ne’eman” – “Mighty, King, Faithful” ? The word “faithful” is also at the end of the first prayer Jews say when they rise – the Modeh Ani prayer: “rabah emunatecha” – “Great is your faith.” How does G-d have faith?
Answer: That is a wonderful question and the answer is (in my opinion) even more wonderful. When we talk about humans being faithful, we think of a person who is dedicated and loyal to others, who will stand by the other through thick and thin. When we speak about G-d’s “faithfulness”, it is referring to the faith that G-d has in us! No matter how far we stray, how many sins we commit, or mistakes we make, G-d has faith in our ability to improve and repent. The world is based on this kindness and faithfulness. If judgement were instantly meted out, very few (if any) of us would be left standing! That is exactly why the first thing we say each morning, after G-d has returned our souls to our bodies, is a declaration of G-d’s faithfulness. He believes in us and demonstrates this fact by giving us a fresh start each day and we should take this knowledge and use it to strengthen ourselves as we prepare to meet the challenges of a new day. After all, if G-d believes in you, shouldn’t you?
R’ Daniel Fleksher