Friday, November 21, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 14

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 14

Tefillah Thoughts

Tefillah, the Bais HaMikdash and livelihood

The Gemara (Pesachim 88a) states that each of the Patriarchs referred to the Bais HaMikdash in a different manner. Avraham referred to the Bais HaMikdash as a mountain, Yitzchak referred to it as a field, and Yaakov referred to it as a house. What is interesting is that only regarding Yitzchak does the Torah associated prayer with the Bais HaMikdash. It is said (Bereishis 24:63) Vayeitzei Yitzchak lasuach basadeh, Yitzchak went out to supplicate in the field. The Gemara (Brachos 26b) interprets the word lasuach to mean prayer. Thus, we can interpret this verse homiletically to read that Yitzchak went out to supplicate in the Bais HaMikdash. Why does the Torah associate Yitzchak with prayer and the Bais HaMikdash? The Netziv (Bereishis 2:5) writes that it is said (Ibid) vichol siach hasadeh terem yihyeh baaretz, now all the trees of the field were not yet on the earth. In a simple sense the Torah is teaching us that one is constantly “talking” (siach means to talk) about sustenance and livelihood. In a deeper sense, however, the Torah is teaching us that it is specifically ones livelihood that is connected with prayer.

In the times of the Bais HaMikdash, writes the Netziv, the sacrifices, which are referred to as Avodah, service, would effect ones livelihood. Now that there is no Bais HaMikdash, ones prayer is what effects his livelihood. The Netziv elaborates on this idea and explains how HaShem does not only desire the prayers of the righteous so that they will bear children. HaShem also desires the prayers of the righteous so that they will earn a livelihood and be sustained. Perhaps based on this idea we can suggest that here the Torah is telling us that Yitzchak was able to tap into the power of prayer and the power of the Bais HaMikdash so that he would have a livelihood. It is noteworthy that the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban (Parashas Toldos) debate whether Yitzchak was poor or wealthy. According to the above mentioned premise, it would follow that Yitzchak was able to draw from the source of prayer and from the future site of the Bais HaMikdash to earn his sustenance. Furthermore, the Rambam (Hilchos Deios 5:11) rules that one must earn a living prior to marriage, and it would appear that Yitzchak was praying that he should have sustenance and only then could he marry Rivka. The lesson of this thesis is that when the economy is in turmoil, one must focus even more to HaShem through prayer, and HaShem will answer our prayers for livelihood and for everything that we request of Him.
Tefillah Teachings

Seeking out water to wash before praying

One is required to seek out water a distance of four mil before him when he is traveling and this ruling only applies when water is available. One who is riding is the same as one who is walking on the road. Furthermore, there is no difference whether the road is difficult or easy to travel on. All this is said regarding one who knows that he will certainly find water on the road but if he is not certain that he will find water on the road, then he is not obligated to search for water.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Adon Olam

Our Rock in times of distress
Vihu nisi umanos li minos kosi biyom ekra, He is my banner, a refuge for me, the portion in my cup on the day I call. The Eitz Yosef explains this passage to mean that in battle, a banner is raised on top of the mountain with the purpose of gathering all the soldiers. Similarly, HaShem is my banner and therefore I seek Him out for refuge. Furthermore, HaShem is the portion in my cup on the day I call, as there is no one besides HaShem who can fulfill my requests.

Tefillah Tale
Ksav Sofer - A Chip Off The Old Tears
During the Chasam Sofer’s old age, it became difficult for him to give over a shiur for the yeshivah, and he requested that his talmidim appoint his son, the Ksav Sofer, who was still quite young, in his place. His talmidim were dismayed by his suggestion. They couldn’t imagine that the Chasam Sofer’s young son was capable of transmitting a shiur on the caliber of his father’s shiurim. However, after the talmidim heard the Ksav Sofer’s shiurim, which were brilliant in their depth and clarity of thought, they were astounded by his genius. They hurried to the Chasam Sofer to praise his son. “Our Rav is fortunate that he was zocheh to such a brilliant son,” they said. Tears of happiness appeared in the Chasam Sofer’s eyes. He replied to them, “Do you think that I was zocheh to such a son for nothing? You should know that I was zocheh to him through a vessel of tears. From the day that my son was born, a tefillah did not pass by that I didn’t cry copious tears that He should succeed in Torah! This is the secret of his success! (Chut Hameshulash, Chaim Sheyash Bahem)
[Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test

The souls of the righteous will also experience the rebuilding of Yerushalayim

Last week we posed the question: which two blessings of Shemone Esrei begin with the letter vav and what possible reason is there for this? Last week we explained the first blessing in Shemone Esrei that begins with a letter vav, the blessing of vilamalshinim. The second blessing that begins with the letter vav is the blessing of viliYerushalyim ircha, and to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return. Rav Shimon Schwab writes that this blessing is adjacent to the previous blessing of al hatzaddikim, on the righteous, because the Medrash to Tehillim (Shochar Tov 122:6) states that the association between these two blessings is that the righteous achieve their full greatness only in Yerushalayim. In a deeper sense, Rav Schwab writes that the Gemara (Taanis 5a) states that HaShem declares, “I will not enter into Yerushalayim on high until I enter into Yerushalayim below.” Yerushalayim below is the physical city of Yerushalayim, of which we beseech HaShem to rebuild speedily in our time. Yerushalayim on high is where the souls of the righteous wait, praying for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim on earth. When Yerushalayim on earth will be rebuilt, the souls in Yerushalayim on high will experience the rebuilding along with the physical people who experience the rebuilding of Yerushalayim here on earth. Those souls on high will have preferred seating to experience this momentous event.

This week’s question is, how is the third blessing of Shemone Esrei associated with Yaakov? 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 14

Is sponsored by
Mrs. Betty Gasner of Oak Park, MI
In loving memory of her dear mother Tova bas Yaakov (Mrs. Tonia Gelber) on her yahrtzeit,
כ"ח מרחשון
and lirifuah shileima
Daniel Eitan ben Chana Shifra
bisoch shaar cholei Yisroel

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
For sponsorships please call 248-506-0363.

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