Monday, January 12, 2009

Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World Volume I Issue 21

תפילה: ברום עולם
Tefillah: Birum Olam: Prayer stands at the Pinnacle of the World
Volume I Issue 21

Tefillah Thoughts

Prayer requires unity amongst the Jewish people
It is well known that prior to praying, one should have in mind the mitzvah of loving your neighbor as yourself. The Lev Simcha (Vayechi 5744) writes that in the final blessing of Shemone Esrei, we ask HaShem barcheinu avinu kulanu kiechod yachad, bless us, our Father, all of us as one. Subsequent to all our prayers and entreaties, we ask HaShem to bless us with unity. Unity is the greatest blessing that we can have, and unity is the vessel that contains all other blessings. Perhaps we can suggest a very practical application of how to achieve unity. The Baal HaTurim (Bamidbar 6:26) writes that the word shalom, peace, is equal in gematria to the name Esav (376) and this alludes to the idea stated in the Gemara (Brachos 17a) that one should greet every person he encounters, even a gentile. Greeting a person does not take a whole lot of effort. In truth, if one greets others, he may be saving lives, marriages and he can benefit the recipient of his greetings in more ways than he can imagine. When we pray to HaShem for unity, we should bear in mind that there is much that we can do to achieve that unity, which will ultimately be the catalyst to bringing Moshiach, speedily, in our days.

Tefillah Teachings

Praying with the congregation

One should exert himself to pray in a synagogue with the congregation, as it is said (Tehillim 69:14) vaani sifilosi lecho HaShem eis ratzon, as for me, may my prayer to You, HaShem, be at an opportune time. The opportune time is when the congregation is praying. Furthermore, it is said (Yeshaya 49:8) koh amar HaShem bieis ratzon anisicho, thus said HaShem: In a time of favor I answer you. Additionally, HaShem does not scorn the prayers of the multitudes, even if there are sinners amongst them. Proof of this idea is because it is said (Iyov 36:5) hein Keil kabir vilo yimas, behold, G-d is mighty and does not despise (the word kabir is interpreted by the Gemara to refer to the multitudes). It is further said (Tehillim 55:19) padah vishalom nafshi mikrav li ki virabim hayu imadi, He redeemed my soul in peace from battles against me, for with many they were against me.

Tefillah Translated and Elucidated

HaShem has no semblance of a body
Ain lo dimus haguf viain lo guf, He has no semblance of a body nor is He corporeal. It is difficult to imagine something that does not have physical dimensions. Yet, we know that the soul is not physical, and there are many things in the world that have no physical dimensions. Why, then, is it critical for us to believe that HaShem has no physical dimension. Perhaps the answer to this question is that since we are given an understanding of how HaShem conducts the world through physical attributes, we may begin to conjure up an image of what HaShem looks like. It is for this reason that we are instructed to believe that HaShem has no physical semblance at all and whatever we read about HaShem is not the Essence of HaShem. Rather, the physical descriptions of HaShem in Scripture are just meant to give us some form of understanding of how HaShem conducts His world.

Tefillah Tale

Chazon Ish: Four Days Is A Long Time
One day, a man who appeared obviously distraught and worn down, knocked at the door of the Chazon Ish. He told the Chazon Ish that he had felt ill for a few days, and eventually he had felt so ill that he was hospitalized. The doctors performed a battery of tests, and they found a virulent infection which had invaded his body. They sadly informed the man that he had only four day to live; they did not have any medication that would be effective for this infection.
The man broke down sobbing as he finished his story, and the Chazon Ish soothed him and calmed him down. The Chazon Ish opened a Chumash Bereishis, and turned to the first pages of the parasha. He said to the man, “Look what Hashem created on the first day,” and the Chazon Ish began to recite all the things which Hashem created on the first day of creation. “Look what Hashem created on the second day,” and again the Chazon Ish read the pessukim, and listed one by one the things which were created on the second day. He continued with the third day, and the fourth day. “So, if the Creator of the World was able to create so many things in four days, don't you believe that in four days He can create a medicine for you which will heal you completely?” The Chazon Ish encouraged the man not to give up hope, but rather he should daven for himself, and plead with Hashem that He heal him from his infection. He reminded him that the gates of Tefillah are never locked, especially before the tefillah of a sick person, which is tefillah at a time of tzara.
The eyes of the man lit up at the Chazon Ish’s words. He began to daven fervently for himself, and since he was following the instructions of a holy man, an unbelievable miracle occurred. A new medicine was imported to Eretz Yisroel from America in the following days. This sick man was one of the first people that the medicine was tested on, and it became clear that the medicine was effective for the infection which was ravaging his body. Within a short time, the man was healed completely. (Barchi Nafshi)

Tefillah Test

The individual who prays for peace

Last week we posed the question: why is it that when an individual prays in solitude and recites the blessing sim shalom in Shemone Esrei, does he recite the words aleinu vial kol Yisroel amecha, upon us and all of Your people Israel? It would seem more appropriate to recite the words alai vial kol Yisroel, upon me and all of Your people Israel. The Doveir Shalom, found in the Siddur Otzar HaTefillos, answers that the true definition of shalom, peace, is when two contradictory ideas or things are in accordance with each other. Thus, an individual who prays to HaShem for peace is requesting of HaShem that he should not face any sort of conflict, both from Heaven and from nature and from all of creation. Peace can be only found by two opposing matters, and even an individual can request that HaShem establish peace upon us, i.e. I and the matter that is in conflict with me. One then prays that HaShem should establish that sort of peace on all of the Jewish People.
This week’s question is, in the third blessing of Shemone Esrei, Atah Kadosh, You are holy, who are the kedoshim that we refer to? 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 21

is sponsored in merit
of the soldiers in Israel
who are fighting to safeguard
the Jewish People.
Hashem should allow them to be victorious and we should witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkienu,
speedily, in our days.

Prepared by Rabbi Binyomin Adler.
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