Focused Prayer

Berachos Daf 30

תנו רבנן: סומא ומי שאינו יכול לכוין את הרוחות — יכוין לבו כנגד אביו שבשמים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל ה׳״. היה עומד בחוץ לארץ — יכוין את לבו כנגד ארץ ישראל, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אליך דרך ארצם״. היה עומד בארץ ישראל — יכוין את לבו כנגד ירושלים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל ה׳ דרך העיר אשר בחרת״. היה עומד בירושלים — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית המקדש, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל הבית הזה״. היה עומד בבית המקדש — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית קדשי הקדשים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל המקום הזה״. היה עומד בבית קדשי הקדשים — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית הכפורת. היה עומד אחורי בית הכפורת — יראה עצמו כאילו לפני הכפורת. נמצא עומד במזרח מחזיר פניו למערב. במערב מחזיר פניו למזרח. בדרום — מחזיר פניו לצפון. בצפון — מחזיר פניו לדרום. נמצאו כל ישראל מכוונין את לבם למקום אחד.

The Sages taught in a Tosefta: A blind person and one who is unable to approximate the directions and, therefore, is unable to face Jerusalem in order to pray, may focus his heart towards his Father in Heaven, as it is stated: “And they shall pray to the Lord” (I Kings 8:44).

One who was standing in prayer in the Diaspora, should focus his heart toward Eretz Yisrael, as it is stated: “And they shall pray to You by way of their land which You have given to their fathers” (I Kings 8:48).

One who was standing in Eretz Yisrael, should focus his heart toward Jerusalem, as stated: “And they shall pray to the Lord by way of the city that You have chosen” (I Kings 8:44).

One who was standing in Jerusalem, should focus his heart toward the Temple, as it is stated: “And they shall pray toward this house” (II Chronicles 6:32).

One who was standing in the Temple, should focus his heart toward the Holy of Holies, as it is stated: “And they shall pray toward this place” (I Kings 8:35).

One who was standing in the Holy of Holies, should focus his heart toward the seat of the ark-cover [kapporet], atop the ark, the dwelling place of God’s glory.

One who was standing behind the seat of the ark-cover, should visualize himself as if standing before the ark-cover and turn toward it.

Consequently, one standing in prayer in the East turns to face west, and one standing in the West, turns to face east. One standing in the South, turns to face north, and one standing in the North, turns to face south; all of the people of Israel find themselves focusing their hearts toward one place, the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

We see there is an idea that everyone should be mispallel in the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim. Why is it not enough just to have Kavana that we are davening to Hashem? Why do we need to physically face the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim?

Rav Steinman Zt’l explained that one who lives in a world of gashmius, may have a hard time connecting to Hashem and the spiritual world. Therefore, he should be mispallel in a Shul, as a spiritual bubble and pray towards the ultimate center of spirituality, the Beis HaMikdash. This way he can focus and connect with Hashem during his Tefilla. We also find Chazal teach us that all the Tefillos from the whole world go up to Hashem via the Kodesh Kedoshim, therefore it is befitting that we should pray in its direction. Based on this, we can understand that when one is mispallel in the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim, he is more focused as to Whom he is being mispallel, and will then have more Kavana.

Therefore, even if one is on a plane and does not know which direction is correct, if you have in mind that you are davening towards the Koshesh Kedoshim, it helps you focus and have proper Kavana. 

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