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A bracha always starts and/or ends with ברוך אתה ה'. However, in a few selected brachos, we also talk to other people in the second person in the middle of the bracha.

Examples:

  • The bracha in a cemetery:

‎ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶתְכֶם בַּדִּין וְדָן אֶתְכֶם בַּדִּין וְכִלְכֵּל אֶתְכֶם בְּדִין וְהֵמִית אֶתְכֶם בַּדִּין וְהוּא עָתִיד לְהָקִים אֶתְכֶם בַּדִּין לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' מְחַיֵּה הַמֵּתִים: ‏

  • The first bracha of Shemoneh Esrei when a ger serves as sheliach tzibbur, according to the Tanna Kamma in Bikkurim 1:4 (not accepted lehalacha):

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו ואלהי אבותיכם ‏

  • The occasional piyut, this is the first one I thought of but there are plenty more

שַׁפְּרוּ מַעֲשֵׂיכֶם וּבְרִית לֹא תוּפַר. נַאֲקַתְכֶם יַאֲזִין שְׁחָקִים שִׁפַּר. וְתִיטַב לַה' מִשּׁוֹר פָּר. קָדוֹשׁ: ‏

Are there any other non-piyut examples? And does anyone discuss the strangeness of talking to someone else in the second person while addressing Hashem?

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  • שעשה ניסים לאבותינו, or assorted variants שעשה לך נס במקום הזה or שגמלך כל טוב
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2023 at 16:01
  • I get the variants, but how is שעשה נסים לאבותינו talking to somebody else?
    – Heshy
    Feb 5, 2023 at 16:41
  • שמח תשמח רעים האהובים כשמחך יצירך
    – Joel K
    Feb 5, 2023 at 16:53
  • @Heshy "us" ="me"+"you"
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2023 at 17:06
  • @DoubleAA or "me" + "someone else". even a yachid says אלקינו ואלקי אבותינו
    – Heshy
    Feb 5, 2023 at 17:41

2 Answers 2

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Virtually every b'rachah mixes persons – in particular, all of those that contain the words asher kidishanu b'mitzvotav – and the phenomenon has been explained by Rabbi Elimelech Lipman (Noam Elimelech, B'chukkotai) as follows:

Some explain it as follows: we say 'Baruch Atah' in the second person and 'asher kidishanu' in the third person. This is because, at the start of one's work for the Creator, one has the impression that one is very close to God. But, persevering in one's service, one sees that God is in fact very distant.

See also Rashba (responsum 5:52) as follows:

God’s existence is clear and known to all, but God's true essence is above and beyond any human comprehension. In order to affirm these two principles in our souls, [the rabbis] decided to say part [of the blessing] in the second person and part in the third person.

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    That doesn't explain why we say part of it in the second person to somebody else
    – Heshy
    Feb 5, 2023 at 20:27
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I can’t find you the quote now, but Nefesh Hachaim says that we start brachot in the second person because we acknowledge in the first half that G-d is the King of the world and is involved in our lives and that we relate to him personally. But when we get to אשר קדשנו we switch to third person because G-d “sanctifying” and “commanding” us is infinite knowledge beyond our comprehension so therefore we use third person because we can't really speak directly to that aspect of G-d. Brachot aren’t just to praise or thank G-d but rather also they’re meant to increase our awareness of G-d in our lives and realize He’s involved in them, but to also simultaneously realize that we can’t fully understand all aspects of G-d

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