Monday, October 20, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 10

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World

Volume I Issue 10

In this series we will be exploring the meaning of prayer, and more specifically, of how to pray. In this issue we will examine the humility one should exhibit while praying.

Tefillah Thoughts

Tosfos (Bava Basra 164b s.v. Iyun Tefillah) quotes the Yerushalmi (Brachos 2:10) that states that we must show gratitude to the head, as when one is praying Shemone Esrei and reaches the blessing of Modim, the head bows down automatically. The Imrei Emes (Hoshanah Rabbah 5666) cites his father the Sfas Ems who said that this statement of the Yerushalmi teaches us that the idea of thanksgiving is an intrinsic part of the makeup of a Jew. It is for this reason that Jews are called Yehudim, as the name Yehudah is derived from the root word hodaah, meaning thanks.

Tefillah Teachings

The Halacha section is based on the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with the final rendition of the Mishna Berurah.

Prior to praying one should wash his hands with water until the wrist. The Rambam is of the opinion that if one is required to wash his hands and he did not do so, and he did not even clean his hands on a rock, then even Bideved his prayer is invalid. The Biur Halacha maintains that in such a case one would not have to repeat the prayer.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Vihu hayah vihu hoveh vihu yihyeh bisifarah, it is He Who was, He Who is, and He Who shall remain, in splendor. What does it mean that HaShem will remain in splendor? Talilei Oros on Tefillah cites Siddur Bier Chaim who writes that HaShem is unlike a human being, in that a human cannot boast about his inherent abilities as a craftsman. Furthermore, a human cannot boast about his designs and plans to create something. Only after the craftsman has brought his plans to fruition can he boast about his accomplishments. If, however, his creation breaks or becomes ruined, he is left with the broken pieces of his creation and the broken pieces of his pride. HaShem, however, existed prior to the creation of the world. He exists presently, and He will exist after the world ceases to exist. In all these three time frames HaShem is and will be revealed in His splendor.

Tefillah Tale

In Poland there were certain Jews who had their livelihood from going to the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the early hours of the morning and purchasing their stock. Later, people would come to their stores and buy the fresh produce. Once, someone commented to the Chiddushei HaRim (Reb Yitzchak Meir of Gur) about the ways of these men. Of course it was not entirely their fault, he conceded, that they had to engage in business before davening (preferably one should refrain from engaging in personal affairs until after praying). But all the same it was very unfortunate that these men had to disgrace their tefillah by taking care of their business first. “On the contrary,” retorted the Chiddushei HaRim, “these men are all G-d fearing individuals. Even though they do what they must before davening, they do the minimum that is possible. Even their speech they limit, not wanting to speak about mundane matters before speaking to Hashem. And when they come to daven, they do so with a broken heart, wishing they had some other way of earning a living. You haven't the faintest idea how much pleasure Hashem derives from their behavior!” [Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test

Last week we posed the question: we recite on Friday night ufros aleinu sukkas shlomecha, and spread over us the shelter of Your peace. What is meant by shelter of peace? How does this differ from peace without a shelter? Perhaps the idea is that a Sukkah is a temporary structure. One may think that if he is only protected for the moment, this is not deemed to be a true protection. We therefore declare that HaShem should spread over us His shelter of peace, as HaShem is infinite and even what appears to us as a temporary protection is in reality a permanent protection.

This week’s question is, the Medrash (Tanchumah Ki Seitzei §11) states that HaShem’s Name and Throne are not complete until any vestige of Amalek is eradicated from the world. If this is so, why do we recite in the blessing following Shema in the morning the words lidor vador hu kayam ushemo kayam vichiso nachon, from generation to generation He endures and His Name endures and His throne is well established. If you have a possible answer, please email me at and your answer will be posted in next week’s edition of Birum Olam.

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World

Volume I Issue 10

is sponsored in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of Yosef Adler of Cleveland, Ohio

Mazel Tov to Yosef and his parents, Reb Avrohom and Mrs. Tzippy Adler, and to the grandparents, Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Adler of Chicago and to Mr. and Mrs. Simcha Schuck of Monsey. May they all share much nachas from Yosef and from all their children and grandchildren.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.

For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

To subscribe weekly by email, please send email to

View Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World

And other Divrei Torah on

No comments: