Friday, December 12, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 17

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 17

Tefillah Thoughts

Hashem answers before we pray
We are currently discussing the verse that states (Yeshaya 65:24) vihayah terem yikrau vaani eeneh od heim midabrim vaani eshma, it will be before that they call I will answer; while they yet speak I will hear. What does it mean that HaShem will respond before they even call out? It would seem to be paradoxical that HaShem answers someone before the person prays to HaShem. The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 21:3 states that this is exactly what the verse means. HaShem foresees the future, so He knows what a person will ask for prior to asking for it. What lesson can we learn from here? Perhaps the Medrash is teaching us that we should not think that HaShem is only now being made aware of our plight. Rather, HaShem knew of our difficulty even before the situation occurred. This knowledge will give us faith that HaShem is aware of our challenges and He Who created the challenge will deliver us from it for our benefit.
Tefillah Teachings

Cleaning ones hands before praying with any material

If one is concerned that by seeking out water prior to praying he will miss the prescribed time for prayer entirely, then he is allowed to clean his hands with a rock, dirt or anything that will clean and then he is permitted to pray. If, however, he is in an area where there are ten Jews praying and if he seeks out water he will miss the prescribed time for prayer, the Bach writes that even if he has time he does not have to seek out water. Rather, he can use any cleansing agent such as a rock or dirt.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Hashem returns our very own spirit
Yigdal Elokim chai viyishtabach, exalted be the living G-d and praised. HaShem is referred to as the living G-d. What does this mean? How can we say about HaShem Who is not physical that He is living? It would appear that the simple understanding of this statement is that HaShem is perceived by physical beings, who are alive. It is for this reason, then, that we refer to HaShem as the living G-d, because HaShem is the One Who provides life to the entire world.

Tefillah Tale

Can’t Get Near The Maharshal
The Maharshal (Rav Shlomo Luria d. 1574) appointed someone to be his agent of rebuke to give him mussar and tochacha if he did even the slightest wrongdoing. Once, the Maharshal was deeply involved in an intricate Tosfos and he lost all track of time, and consequently, was late for Mincha. The Maharshal expected to be rebuked strongly for his tardiness, but to his consternation, his agent of rebuke didn’t utter a word about it.
The Maharshal questioned his agent, “Didn’t I appoint you to rebuke to me for any wrongdoing? Why didn’t you say anything when I was late for Mincha?”
The agent responded, “In normal circumstances, I certainly would have rebuked you for this. However, when you walked in the Bais Medrash, you were accompanied by two radiant men who were surrounded by an aura of kedusha, and I was afraid to approach you.”
The Maharshal responded, “These two men were the R’i and Rabbeinu Tam, the Baalei Tosfos whose words I struggled so hard to understand.” (Sefer Korban Todah) [Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test

Partners with HaShem

Last week we posed the question: why do we mention the idea of hatov vihameitiv, that HaShem is good and beneficent, in the blessing of requesting prosperity? One possible answer to this question is that regarding the laws of reciting Hatov Vihameitiv over wine, there are opinions that require that one have a partnership in the wine. In a similar vein we can suggest that regarding earning a livelihood, one must always be cognizant that Hashem is, so to speak, his partner in all of his financial concerns. With that knowledge one can hope for success in all areas of life.
This week’s question is, if there are nineteen blessings in the “Shemone Esrei,” why did the Sages not rename the prayer the Tisha Esrei, the blessings of nineteen? 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 17
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Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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