From today's Hakhel email:
4. It is said that each of the Seven Days of Sukkos represents one of the Seven Ananei HaKavod--with each day being an additional Anan. What, then, is Shemini Atzeres? We may suggest that it represents not the protective Anan in each direction, but the Hashgacha Pratis over the individual within the Anan. It is even a greater closeness to Hashem than the Ananei HaKavod around us in all directions represent. With this in mind, we can understand a seemingly difficult juxtaposition in our daily Shemone Esrei Tefillah. After asking Hashem for the Bais HaMikdash to be rebuilt in the Bracha of Retzei and pleading that “our eyes see Hashem’s return to Tzion,” we surprisingly begin the next Bracha with “Modim Anachnu Lach--we thank You Hashem for….” If we have just expressed our sore need for the Bais HaMikdash, how can we so quickly seemingly take about face and immediately express our overflowing thanks, when so much is missing?! We may suggest that just as Shemini Atzeres represents the Simcha of our relationship with Hashem even beyond the protective warmth of the Sukkah, so too, does Modim express our recognition that even without a Bais Hamikdash, we enjoy the incredible benefits of a personal and direct Hashgacha Pratis relationship with Hashem. Just as this is one of the concluding messages of our recent Chagim, so too is it one of the concluding messages of our Shemone Esrei three times a day. The lasting message of Hashgacha Pratis should stay with us throughout the year…and throughout the day!