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In the amida we recite "hagadol, hagibor, vehanora" (the great, mighty, and awesome)

There are many explanations for the term "hanora" (awesome). Have heard somewhere one explanation that it refers to God's attribute of wisdom as manifested in nature.

Is there a source for this in chazal?

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The Talmud Yerushalmi Berachot (7:3) states:

אמר ר' פנחס משה התקין מטבעה של תפילה [נחמיה ח ו] האל הגדול הגבור והנורא. ירמיה אמר [ירמי' לב יח] האל הגדול הגבור ולא אמר הנורא. למה אמר הגבור לזה נאה לקרות גבור שהוא רואה חורבן ביתו ושותק. ולמה לא אמר נורא אלא שאין נורא אלא בית המקדש שנא' [תהילים סח לו] נורא אלקים ממקדשך. דניאל אמר [דניאל ט ד] האל הגדול והנורא ולא אמר הגבור בניו מסורין בקולרין היכן היא גבורתו. ולמה אמר הנורא לזה נאה לקרות נורא בנוראות שעשה לנו בכבשן האש

The Talmud presents two reasons to describe God as נורא; awesome. Either the Temple (presumably this refers to his glory expressed in the Temple [2]). Or in his wonders that he performed in the fiery furnace. (Cf. Daniel 3: 20-7)


[2] Indeed The Alei Tamar theron cites Rabbenu Azriel whose text of the Yerushalmi reads בבית המקדש; that נורא is only present in the Temple.

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Rabbi Ian Shaffer of Yeshiva University cites Rav Avraham the son of the Gr"a explaining his father's commentary. He says that this refers to the miracles of the desert and kriyat yam suf. That is, the overt miracles showing Hashem's control of nature.

The term hanorah refers to the supplying of the needs of the Jewish people in the desert where they lived in a supernatural existence, as God did for Avraham in Ur Kasdim, and as He did in Egypt and at the Red Sea. This corresponds to the phrase, v’elokai avoteinu. This refers to the wonders done for us by God, as reflected in the shirat hayam (Shemot 15:2) where the Jewish people say, “This is my God and I will elevate Him, the God of our fathers and I will beautify Him.”

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Hanorah corresponds to ve’zocheir chasdei avot, in that God does for us many deeds, which are beyond the bounds of nature, and will lead eventually to the redemption.

R. Avraham has shown how his father saw Moshe’s words as the basis for much of the first blessing of the amida, demystifying the Gr”a’s comments to the subsequent blessings of the amida, as laid out above6.

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