Friday, October 31, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 11

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 11

Tefillah Thoughts

Praying with the Tzibur brings to holiness and this idea is reflected in Yitzchak
The Mishna in Avos (1:2) states that the world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah (service) and Gemilus Chasadim. The Pinei Menachem writes that these three ideas correspond to the three Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Avraham embodied the attribute of chesed, kindness, and Yaakov symbolized Torah. Yitzchak represented Avodah, service. When the Bais HaMikdash stood the Avodah was performed through the sacrifices. Without the Bais HaMikdash the Avodah is performed through Torah study and prayer. The way for us to be elevated through Torah study and prayer is by joining together as a Tzibur. Regarding Yitzchak, who was the pillar of service, i.e. prayer, it is said that his eifer, ashes, was tzavur, gathered before HaShem. The idea of “his ashes” alludes to the Avodah that he sacrificed himself for, as if he had become ash. This sacrifice remained for future generations. When the Jewish People gather together they can reach high levels of holiness. It is said in the name of the Baal HaTanya that when ten Jews gather together (for prayer) the holiness is so great that even the angels are fearful of being in the presence of those Jews. This is the attribute known as pachad Yitzchak, the fear of Yitzchak.
Tefillah Teachings

Washing the hands before praying

One does not have to dry his hands after washing them in preparation for prayer. One should also wash his hands prior to praying Mincha and Maariv. Even if one has already washed his hands in the morning, if he later touched an area which is normally covered and is a sweaty area, or if he scratched his head, or if he did not initially wash until his wrist, he must wash his hands again before praying.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Adon Olam

Vihu echod viein sheini lihamshilo lihachbira, He is one – there is no second to compare to Him, to declare as His equal. I have always been troubled by the word lihachbira, to declare as his equal. The root word of lihachbira is chaver, a friend. Can one even contemplate that he is the friend of HaShem? Perhaps the answer to this question is that Dovid HaMelech writes (Tehillim 119:63) chaver ani lichol asher yireiucha ulishomrei pikudecha, I am a friend to all who fear You, and to those who keep your precepts. Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 23:2) writes that the city of Chevron was thus called because the souls of those buried there were connected to their root, which is HaShem’s Throne of Glory. Thus, we see that it is possible to have an attachment to HaShem, so to speak, in the way of a friendship. Nonetheless, we declare that HaShem has no equal, as no matter how close one is to HaShem, he is still not HaShem’s equal.

Tefillah Tale

Rav Shimshon Shares His Trade Secrets and Gives A Lesson in How To Daven

Rav Shimshon Pincus was known for his extraordinarily passionate tefillos. Indeed, the sefer that he authored on the subject (Shearim BaTefila) has become a classic.
Rav Goldenthal (Rav Shimshon’s ‘boss’, the pioneer of the Torah community of Ofakim, and the one who brought Rav Shimshon to the town) shared with me the story about an Avreich he was close to, who had been married some time with no children. The fellow asked Rav Shimshon to daven for him, and he promised to do so. One day, when he felt especially despondent, the Avreich went to ask Rav Shimshon if, in fact, he had remembered him in his tefillos. The Rav admitted that he had forgotten to, and thought for a minute. ‘I have an idea,’ he said, ‘Call your wife, and tell her you will be home late. Then let's go for a drive.’
They got in the car, and Rav Shimshon drove a while, until they approached a peaceful orchard, which was desolate at that time of year. It was approaching evening, and Rav Shimshon told him that they would each stand under a tree and beseech Hashem for a yeshuah.
As they began to daven, Rav Shimshon suddenly got into his car and began to drive. He waved at the shocked Avreich, and called out, ‘I’ll pick you up in an hour.’
The fellow described his feelings to Rav Goldenthal. It was dark, and he was in a deserted place, inhabited only by animals and the occasional Bedouin wanderer. He felt a feeling of panic and dread that he had never before experienced, which only compounded brokenness and sorrow.
Suddenly, he realized with unprecedented clarity that he was totally in the hands of Hashem, and now completely alone with Him. He began to cry to Him from the very depths of his soul, and before he knew it, Rav Shimshon drove up, a broad smile on his face. ‘You davened well...’
Nine months later he had his first child. [Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test

Eradicating Amalek from our hearts by reciting Shema
Last week we posed the question: 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. Perhaps the answer to this question is that when we recite Shema, we are accepting on ourselves the yoke of HaShem’s Kingship. While it is true that Moshiach has not yet arrived, our affirmation of HaShem’s Kingship is in a sense a demonstration that the forces of evil cannot dominate us. Thus, we can declare that from generation to generation He endures and His Name endures and His throne is well established.

This week’s question is why is it important to recite geulah immediately prior to reciting Shemone Esrei? 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 11
is sponsored anonymously
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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