Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 12

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 12

Tefillah Thoughts

Praying after the Bais HaMikdash will be rebuilt
It is said (Yeshaya 56:7) vahaviosim el har kadshi visimachtim biveis tefillasi oloseihem vizivcheihem liratzon al mizbichi ki veisi beis tefillah yikareis lichol haamim, I will bring them to My Holy Mountain, and I will gladden them in My House of Prayer; their elevation-offerings and their feast-offerings will find favor on My altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. This verse implies that after the future Bais HaMikdash will be built, there will still be a concept of payer. One must wonder, though, what will be the need of prayer once we have the Final Redemption? What is even more difficult to understand is that the Gemara (Megillah 18a) proves from this verse that after Moshiach ben Dovid arrives, then comes prayer. This statement of the Gemara indicates that prior to the arrival of Moshiach, we do not have true prayer. What is the meaning of this perplexing verse and the equally perplexing statement of the Gemara? Perhaps the idea that the Gemara is teaching us can be explained by the words of the Mabit that we have quoted here previously. The Mabit writes in Shaar HaTefillah (§17) that for the final redemption to occur, the Jewish People are required to offer many prayers. The Mabit goes on to explain why this is necessary. From the words of the Mabit we can understand that the Ultimate Redemption is a direct result of our prayers. Similar to the Medrash that states that the prayers of the Jewish People become part of HaShem’s crown, in a sense our prayers are what the Bais HaMikdash is comprised of. It is specifically for this reason that the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as a house of prayer. Furthermore, it is only after the arrival of Moshiach that we can finally see how our prayers had an effect. The joy that we will soon feel when Moshiach arrives with the Ultimate Redemption will be associated with the elation that we will have in knowing that all our prayers throughout the centuries have been answered. Hashem should allow us to pray with great intensity and merit the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu, speedily, in our days.
Tefillah Teachings

Washing the hands before praying

One who soiled his hands with mud should wash his hands with water if possible. This is the opinion of the Avi Ezri, whereas according to the Rosh, it is not clear that one would be required to wash his hands with water.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Adon Olam

Bili reishis bili sachlis vilo haoz vihamisra, without beginning, without conclusion – His is the power and dominion. What is the significance of saying that HaShem has no beginning and no end? Does this make HaShem more powerful? Although it seems that this passage is very cryptic, perhaps one way to understand this is by analyzing how we view ourselves. We know where we come from and we know where we are headed. Regarding HaShem, if it can be said, there is no starting point and no ending point. One who even attempts to posit that HaShem began or HaShem ended is denying the infinite state of HaShem.

Tefillah Tale

The cry of an infant

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev once witnessed a man who was reciting his prayers at a quick pace, and he was mumbling the words in an unintelligible fashion. Reb Levi Yitzchak approached the man and mumbled some unintelligible syllables. “I am sorry, rabbi,” said the man, “but I did not understand what you said.” “If that is the case,” Reb Levi Yitzchak said, “why do you mumble your prayers in such an unintelligible manner? Recite your prayers in a way that they can be understood.”
The man responded, “when an infant cries out and utters unintelligible sounds, a stranger many not comprehend what the child is trying to say. A parent, however, is sensitive to the child’s cries and sounds and can understand what he wants. Similarly, G-d is my father and he understands even my mumbling.” Reb Levi Yitzchak was ecstatic with this answer, as he now had a new defense for the behavior of the Jewish People.

Tefillah Test

Redemption is constantly happening

Last week we posed the question: why is it important to recite geulah immediately prior to reciting Shemone Esrei? Perhaps one answer to this question is that the Shaarei Teshuvah (Orach Chaim 118) writes that when we recite in Shemone Esrei the words ki lishuasecho kivinu kol hayom, “for we hope for Your salvation all day long,” we should have in mind to request of HaShem that He save us from our daily trials and tribulations. Reciting these words is a proven method of salvation in difficult times. Thus, we see that salvation is not limited to the Ultimate Redemption. Rather, every miracle that HaShem performs for us is a microcosm of the Ultimate Redemption. It is for this reason that we mention redemption immediately prior to Shemone Esrei, as we demonstrate that every prayer of ours that HaShem answers is a form of redemption.

This week’s question is, which two blessings of Shemone Esrei begin with the letter vav and what possible reason is there for this? 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 12
is sponsored lizchus Refuah Shileima to all the cholei Yisroel, Shabbos hi milizok urefuah kiroavh lavo
Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

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