Three times a day we religious Jews thank Hashem towards the end of the silent prayer in our liturgy. What are we thanking Him for? That’s easy! We’re thanking Him “for our lives, for the daily miracles He performs for us and for His loving-kindness that never ceases”.
Reb Nosson says (Nesi’as Kapayim 4) that the essence of this blessing is thanking Hashem for saving our souls from corruption. Hashem’s greatest mercy isn’t that He feeds us and keeps us healthy but rather that He is constantly working things out and planning opportunities for us to succeed in spiritual matters. Think about it, he says, would it be called kindness to give someone a million dollars and then beat him up for the next few hundred years? Of course not. Certainly His compassion includes the sustenance he gives us, but the heart of His affection is how He’s always conjuring up ideas so that we don’t fall off the face of the ‘eternal’ earth.
The Talmud says “Every day, man’s evil inclination overpowers him. If not for Hashem’s help, he wouldn’t be able to manage on his own” (Kiddushin 30). For this we are the most grateful. As Reb Nosson so beautifully writes “Not only doesn’t He push us away, but He regularly works wonders to light up our darkness. He flips our slumps into high times and our sins into merits”.
This is why we bow in that blessing. At first we’re bowing to show how we’re falling without Hashem’s help, like King David sings “Our souls are cast down to the dust and our bellies are touching the ground (Psalms 44)”. But then, with Hashem’s help, we rise out of the dust to the highest places. With His unceasing love, our lows ascend higher and higher until we can finally stand up straight when we utter His holy name, שאתה הוא יהו-ה.