A Prayer for Integrity

Berachos Daf 28

מתני׳ רבי נחוניא בן הקנה היה מתפלל בכניסתו לבית המדרש וביציאתו תפלה קצרה. אמרו לו: מה מקום לתפלה זו? אמר להם: בכניסתי אני מתפלל שלא יארע דבר תקלה על ידי. וביציאתי אני נותן הודאה על חלקי

גמ׳ תנו רבנן: בכניסתו מהו אומר? ״יהי רצון מלפניך ה׳ אלהי שלא יארע דבר תקלה על ידי, ולא אכשל בדבר הלכה, וישמחו בי חברי, ולא אומר על טמא טהור, ולא על טהור טמא. ולא יכשלו חברי בדבר הלכה, ואשמח בהם״.

MISHNA: In addition to the halakhot relating to the fixed prayers, the Gemara relates: Rabbi Neḥunya ben Hakana would recite a brief prayer upon his entrance into the study hall and upon his exit. They said to him: The study hall is not a dangerous place that would warrant a prayer when entering and exiting, so what room is there for this prayer? He said to them: Upon my entrance, I pray that no mishap will transpire caused by me in the study hall. And upon my exit, I give thanks for my portion.

GEMARA: The Sages taught in a baraita the complete formula of Rabbi Neḥunya ben Hakana’s prayer: Upon his entrance, what does he say? May it be Your will, Lord my God, that no mishap in determining the halakha transpires caused by me, and that I not fail in any matter of halakha, and that my colleagues, who together with me engage in clarifying the halakha, will rejoice in me. He specified: And that I will neither declare pure that which is impure, nor declare impure that which is pure and that my colleagues will not fail in any matter of halakha, and that I will rejoice in them.

This beautiful Tefilla of Rebbe Nechunia Ben Hakana is explained beautifully and thoroughly in the introduction of the classic, Ana B’Koach, by Rav Chaim Cohen Zt’l, known as the Chalban. I would like to share a snippet from his words that I felt were so powerful.

The focus of this Tefilla appears, at first glance, to be about appreciating our peers and not reaching the wrong conclusions in Halacha. The Chalban explains that we are praying that our Middot should be refined to a point that they are not negatively impacting our intellect. We need to build a strong bridge between our heart and our brain, built on strong character. Many times, we can be a bit untruthful or upset and let that deficiency in our character impact our decisions. We can be in an argument and even when we realize that the other person is correct, we still argue our point, even though we know it is wrong. We just cannot concede. 

This tefilla, is a tefillah to build our character and integrity and be able to apply it on an intellectual scale. This will enable us to understand and give over the Torah correctly, with wholesomeness in character and spirit. 

We should all merit this Shleimut and be able to be genuinely happy for another and unbiased towards ourselves.

1 thought on “A Prayer for Integrity

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