Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 19

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 19

Tefillah Thoughts

Praying on Chanukah
It is said (Tehillim 18:7) batzar li ekra HaShem viel Elokai ashaveia yishma meiheichalo koli vishavasi lifanav tavo viaznav, in my distress I would call upon HaShem, and to my G-d I would cry [for salvation]. From his abode He would hear my voice, my cry to Him would reach His ears. The Medrash (Medrash Tehillim §18) states that the various expressions of prayer in this verse refer to the different exiles that the Jewish People endured. The words yishma meiheichalo koli alludes to the Greek exile. The reason the heichal is mentioned is because the Bais HaMikdash stood throughout the entire reign of the Greeks. Perhaps this Medrash can be explained according to the words of the Maharal (Ner Mitzvah page 22) who writes that the word heichal equals in gematria 65, and the name Yavan, Greece, equals in gematria 66, symbolizing that the Greeks had one over the heichal. From this Medrash it would appear that with prayer, the Jewish People can be victorious over the Greeks. This idea is also hinted to in the verse that states (Tehillim 20:3) yishlach ezrecho mikodesh umitziyon yisadeka, may He dispatch your help from the Sanctuary, and support you from Tziyon. The first letters of the words yishlach ezrecho mikodesh umitziyon yisadeka equal in gematria the word kol, voice, which alludes to the power of prayer. Thus, the prayers of the Jewish People gain power from the Bais HaMikdash.
Tefillah Teachings

Washing ones hands before praying even after having washed in the morning

If one washed his hands properly in the morning and he is not aware that his hands became soiled, since he was not focused on keeping his hands clean, he must wash them again before praying. This ruling applies even if from the time that he washed his hands until he prayed he studied Torah in between, as studying Torah is also deemed to be an interruption. Nonetheless, he does not need to wash his hands again if he wants to study Torah, recite blessings and Shema. The Pri Megadim, however, writes that one is required to wash his hands again if he wishes to recite Shema.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

We must be unified so Hashem will be One
Echod viein yachid kiyichudo, He is One – and there is no unity like His Oneness. We are accustomed to referring to the idea of people getting along with each other as unity. In this passage, however, we discover that the unity of HaShem is the only true unity. Nonetheless, HaShem allowed us a glimpse of His unity by giving us the opportunity to become one with others, and when this occurs with all of mankind, HaShem will be one and His Name will be one.

Tefillah Tale

The Flames That Danced All Night In The Wind
It was the last day of Chanukah. My patience was wearing thin from the promise I made to myself the first night of Chanukah. We live in a small apartment and have quite a few rambunctious kids. With no shortage of menorahs in our home the glasses, wicks, and oil start flying around about half an hour before lighting time. You would think that once we all would light things calm down. Actually that's when the stakes get raised. Nothing is more exciting for a two year old boy than yanking on the table cloth beneath five lit menorahs. So one year I promised myself that no matter what happens I will stay calm and not raise my voice.
There was an added complication to our menorah logistics. In our kitchen where we all lit there is no window to the street so the Rav told me we should light one menorah in the boys’' bedroom facing the street. That menorah had a large base and with no windowsill available we placed it upon a thin radiator in a way that the menorah was dangling halfway in mid-air. You can imagine that this was not pleasant. Especially since my 4 year old son whose bed was directly beneath this menorah felt that since it was in his airspace he can do whatever he wants with it. “Whatever he wants” did not entail standing a few feet away and not touching.
Despite the usual “Mishugas”, that year I managed to stay calm through some trying moments. For the first 7 nights I managed to survive with my promise still intact. Then came the big one “Zois Chanukah”, the culmination of Chanukah. The night the menorah gets filled to capacity, standing room only with all eight lights. The lighting that's going to keep us warm for a whole year. After carefully managing to “load up” my trapeze artist high flying menorah without spilling too much oil I went to call the gang so that we can start the show. Just then I saw the landlord of the airspace, my four year old tzaddik tip toe up to the menorah to get a better look at my fully loaded beauty. What happened next I don’t need to tell you. You probably guessed already. Not only did it fall and shatter the little glasses and spill oil all over the place but the menorah actually snapped at the stem leaving me menorah-less on the last night 15 minutes before candle lighting. Seeing this sight and my little tzaddik standing beside it made the blood rush to my head so quick I nearly exploded. Then catching hold of myself I realized that I needed to somehow get hold of a new Menorah pronto. But where? I quickly ran out of the house killing two birds with one stone (and no children since I was gone from the premises).
The best I could do was find one of those flimsy throwaway menorahs in a local shteebel. So much for my big night. I was going to the big dance with a disposable. When I got home I calmly walked into the house and didn't utter a word of complaint. I somehow managed to convince myself the impossible. That if I can keep my big mouth closed and just smile, Hashem will enjoy my candles more than a nice menorah. Funny how emotions get the better of you. Although now that idea seems obvious back then it was a tough sell.
Anyway, when I got to the window I realized that it was impossible to put the menorah on the ledge because of the way it was built. My wife suggested that I put it on the outside of the window where there was a sizable ledge. Considering that the wind was howling I didn’t think that was feasible since I didn't have one of those glass enclosures. I didn’t even think I’d even be able to light it in those conditions. Since it was too late to start calling a Rav and asking a Shaila I figured I’ll just try it.
The family gathered around and with no hard feelings towards my son, with great skepticism and even a little concern that I was making a bracha livatala, I lit my shamash and attempted to light the menorah. Surprisingly it lit rather easily. Now came the next challenge. How long would it last? The first half hour seemed to take forever. With the wind blowing incessantly the little flames seemed doomed. Boruch Hashem we made it and were home free. After that I left the room to eat supper. After supper I went back fully expecting not to see anything still burning. Lo and behold all eight lights were burning away. I can tell you without exaggeration that these lights took a beating as they were mercilessly pounded by the wind for hours on end, yet they danced and sang all night long. When the last flame finally burned out close to midnight there was not a lick of oil left in the glasses. It was the first time in my life that not one flame died out prematurely.
I am like you. The miracles and great stories always seem to happen to someone else. But by the next morning when the events of the past night finally sunk in I had this amazing feeling as I realized that I too had witnessed my own private miracle. Although it was a disposable menorah I carefully removed it from the windowsill and put it straight on my desk as a remembrance of that special, special night. I always loved to look at the perfectly clean empty glasses and smile. Although I am back to screaming and hollering at the kids it gives me the satisfaction of knowing that once I passed a really big test and it gives me hope that one day I can finally rid myself of anger for once and for all.
In fact over the past year I passed another big test. We moved houses and as my kids were helping me pack up my home office one of them took my precious disposable menorah/trophy and wasn't too careful. When I heard the shattering of glass and turned around to see a frightened young girl (who knew about our miraculous menorah although not the background to it) I didn't even flinch. I just looked up and smiled and said “thanks Hashem I guess I got all the chizuk I needed from your thoughtful gift. It must be time to move on.”
This is a true story submitted by dear friend and avid Revach reader. [Reprinted with permission from]

Tefillah Test
The Bais HaMikdash atones for all

Last week we posed the question: 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? A friend of mine suggested that perhaps the answer to this question is that Shlomo HaMelech offered his prayer after dedicating the Bais HaMikdash, and the Gemara (Sukkah 55b) states that the Jewish People offered sacrifices in the Bais HaMikdash to atone for the gentiles. It was for this reason that Shlomo HaMelech requested from HaShem that He answer the prayers of the gentiles, whereas in the times of Dovid the Bais HaMikdash had not been built, so there was no need to pray on behalf of the gentiles.

This week’s question is, why do we begin the Maariv prayer with the words vihu rachum yichapeir avon, He, the Merciful One, is forgiving of iniquity. 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 19
is sponsored in honor of the Jewish People worldwide who delight in the mitzvah of Chanukah.

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

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