Friday, December 19, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 18

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 18

Tefillah Thoughts

No praying on Chanukah?
This coming week is Chanukah when we celebrate the miracle of the Menorah lights burning for eight days and for the miracle of the Chashmonaim defeating the Greeks in battle. While the days of Chanukah are referred to as days of Hallel and hodaah, praise and thanksgiving, there does not appear to be any mention of prayer in the recital of al Hanisim or in the singing of Maoz Tzur. We only mention the great miracles that HaShem wrought for the Jewish People. Is it possible to say that the Chashmonaim did not pray before going out to battle that HaShem should save them? Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in the words of the Binei Yissachar who writes that on Chanukah we spin the draidel from the top, whereas on Purim we turn the gragger from the bottom. The reason for this, writes the Binei Yissachar, is because at the time of Chanukah there was an isarusa dileilah, an arousal from Above. Therefore, the Jewish People essentially did not need to pray for salvation. Yet, they were required to demonstrate that they were making some effort, and this was done by taking up arms against the Greeks. Regarding Purim, however, HaShem, so to speak, concealed Himself, and the Jewish People were required to storm the heavens with their prayers, and this is referred to as isarusa dilitisa, the arousal from below. Thus, we now have a better understanding why prayer is not mentioned in Maoz Tzur and la hanisim, as essentially the miracle of Chanukah was effected by HaShem alone.
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. This means that he does not have to seek out water if this will cause him to miss the prescribed time for prayer. Regarding recital of Shema one certainly is not required to seek out water for cleaning if this will cause him to miss the prescribed time of reciting Shema. Rather, he should use anything that will clean and then he should recite Shema. There are many halachic authorities who maintain that regarding the recital of Shema, as soon as it is time to recite Shema, if he does not have water, he should clean his hands with anything and not wait for water.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

Hashem returns our very own spirit
Nimtza viein eis el metziaso, He exists – unbounded by time is His existence. The concept that HaShem exists appears to be simple, but in reality is difficult to fathom. If HaShem exists, how is it that we can so easily forget that He exists? While HaShem created the world in this manner, we must do everything possible to increase our awareness of His existence. The Ramchal writes in Daas Tevunos that one of the fundamentals of our faith is to know that HaShem is our G-d and that there is nothing else that exists besides HaShem. This awareness takes much effort and should be the focus of our lives.

Tefillah Tale

Rav Firer Hears Tears That Need No One's Help
A famous philanthropist once traveled to Bnei Brak to visit the headquarters of the organization Ezra Lemarpeh, the organization which aids countless Jews in need of medical help, advice and referrals. The philanthropist met with Rav Elimelech Firer, the renowned director of Ezra Lemarpeh. After their meeting, the two of them decided to travel to Yerushalayim to daven by the Kosel.
They arrived after midnight. As they approached the Kosel, they heard the sound of sobbing coming from the plaza in front of the Kosel. As they got closer, they saw a middle-aged Jew standing and leaning his head on the stones, crying unceasingly.
When Rav Firer heard the sound of crying, he was unable to return to his routine, even while he was in the company of one of the greatest philanthropists. He turned to the philanthropist and said, “Hashem didn’t arrange that we would be here at this time for no reason, but in order to hear the tears of this Jew, and help him out. Let’s make a deal; I’ll approach him and introduce myself and if he needs medical advice, I will aid him to the best of my ability. However, if he tells me that he is not in need of medical advice, but in need of financial help, you will enter the picture, and offer your financial help.” The philanthropist agreed to the “deal”.
Rav Firer approached the man, tapped lightly on his shoulder, and introduced himself and inquired whether he was in need of medical advice. The man replied, “No, no, I have no need for such help. Everything is fine, Boruch Hashem.”
Rav Firer walked away and told the philanthropist that it was now time for him to enter the picture. The philanthropist approached the man and gently inquired whether he needed financial help. This time the answer was also negative. “Hakadosh Boruch Hu has given me everything I need, and I’m not in need of anything,” he answered.
The philanthropist reported back to Rav Firer and Rav Firer was confused. If everything was fine, why was he crying so loudly, affecting everyone around him? He decided to approach the man once again and clarify the matter.
“I’ll tell you in one sentence why I’m crying,” said the man. “Last night, I married off my youngest son, the last of the twelve children Hashem has given me. I came tonight to thank Him, the Creator of the world, on the great kindness He has shown me for so many years until I was zocheh to bring my last child under the chuppah.”
The man explained that just as he had come to the Kosel over the years to plead to Hashem to help him marry off his children, now that all his tefillos had been answered, he had come especially to the Kosel to thank Him. The man concluded his thoughts by saying, “And is it possible to thank Hashem and praise Him for such great kindness without bursting into tears?!” (Barchi Nafshi) [Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test

Partners with HaShem

Last week we posed the question: if there are nineteen blessings in the “Shemone Esrei,” why did the Sages not rename the prayer the Tisha Esrei, the blessings of nineteen? Perhaps the answer to this question is that although it was necessary to institute this blessing because of the threats to tradition that were attempted by the heretics, we should not view this blessing as the default. Rather, we must pray to HaShem that the sinners repent from their sins and then this prayer will no longer be necessary.

This week’s question is, the Medrash (Devarim Rabbah 2:10) states that Dovid HaMelech requested from HaShem that He ignore the prayers of the gentiles. Yet, we find elsewhere that the Medrash (Rashi Bereishis 27:28) states that Shlomo HaMelech, Dovid HaMelech’s son, requested from HaShem that He should answer the prayers of a gentile in the Bais HaMikdash regardless of whether the gentile is deserving or not. What is the difference between Dovid HaMelech’s request and Shlomo HaMelech’s request? 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 18
is sponsored in Michigan by the Godfrey family in memory of their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather Shlomo Ben Dovid ob”m Mr. Samuel Schey, Niftar 25 Kisleiv 5734, December 20, 1973.

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

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