Category Archives: Daf Yomi

The Chachma of Havdala

Berachos 33

הַבְדָּלָה בְּ״חוֹנֵן הַדָּעַת״: מַאי טַעְמָא

We learned in the mishna that havdala, distinguishing between Shabbat and the weekdays, is added in the blessing of: Who graciously grants knowledge. Here too the Gemara asks: What is the reason that havdala is recited specifically in that blessing?

אָמַר רַב יוֹסֵף: מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁהִיא חָכְמָה, קְבָעוּהָ בְּבִרְכַּת חָכְמָה. 

Rav Yosef said: Havdala is recited in that blessing because it requires wisdom to distinguish between two entities, they established it in the blessing of wisdom. 

The Gemara teaches us that on Motzei Shabbos we say the Tefila of Ata Chonentanu in the bracha of Chonen Ha’Daas. Ata Chonentenu is referred to as Havdala, as it is with this Tefilla that we declare a separation between Shabbos and weekdays. The Gemara goes on to explain the reason we say Havdala in this Bracha is because Havdala is Chochma and therefore Chazal put it in the bracha for Chochma. Rashi explains that a Chacham knows to discern between that which is ritually pure and that which is impure or between that which is holy and that which is mundane. The Ran (Teshuvot HaGeonim 92)  tells us that in fact, Chachma is by definition the ability to discern between two very similar, yet different things. 

We find similarly the Yerushalmi (Berachos 5;2)  teaches us that if not for Daas, one would not know how to be mavdil, or separate. The Mei HaShiloach (Vol 2 Miketz 4)  expounds on this and explains that when one has Yishuv HaDaas, a calm state of mind, one can then discern two seemingly similar things from each other and thereby have the ability to take ideas from other cultures or communities by separating out the good part of it and integrating it into one’s life and leaving the bad behind. 

Rav Tzadok (Bo), however, has a different take on this and explains that as Shabbos ends, one feels a spiritual decline as the high of Shabbos fades away. Therefore, one should be mispallel in the Bracha of Daas that the upcoming week should be one which is clean of sin and full of Yirah, like it was on Shabbos. He continues, that we see from the brachos of the Shemoneh Esrei, where we first talk about how Hashem is the source of all. Once we recognize that everything is from Hashem, the ultimate Mavdil, we can then move onto the Bracha of Daas or Chochma and develop a sense of Yiras Hashem, as the pasuk says Reishis Chachma Yiras Hashem. From there we can go on to do Teshuva and experience the Geula Sheleima. 

Do A Mitzvah The Right Way

Shabbos 2

The Mishna teaches us the laws of carrying from one domain to another, the example of the mishna for this is a poor person reaching into someones house to ask for food or a wealthy person reaching out of his house to give food to a poor person.

The Meiri asks, why doesn’t the Mishna give a classic example of 2 people, why are we seemingly discussing the laws of charity in the middle of the laws of Shabbos?

He explains that the Mishna is teaching us that even if something is a Mitzvah, we cannot do an Aveirah to get that Mitzvah done.

Endangering other people is an Averia, we should not endanger others by violating quarantine or the like in order to fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim.

Wishing you all a healthy and fulfilling Purim!

The Heavenly Gates

Berachos Daf 32

ואמר רבי אלעזר: מיום שחרב בית המקדש ננעלו שערי תפלה, שנאמר: ״גם כי אזעק ואשוע שתם תפלתי״. ואף על פי ששערי תפילה ננעלו, שערי דמעה לא ננעלו, שנאמר: ״שמעה תפלתי ה׳ ושועתי האזינה אל דמעתי אל תחרש״.

On the subject of prayer, Rabbi Elazar also said: Since the day the Temple was destroyed the gates of prayer were locked and prayer is not accepted as it once was, as it is said in lamentation of the Temple’s destruction: “Though I plead and call out, He shuts out my prayer” (Lamentations 3:8). Yet, despite the fact that the gates of prayer were locked with the destruction of the Temple, the gates of tears were not locked, and one who cries before God may rest assured that his prayers will be answered, as it is stated: “Hear my prayer, Lord, and give ear to my pleading, keep not silence at my tears” (Psalms 39:13). Since this prayer is a request that God should pay heed to the tears of one who is praying, he is certain that at least the gates of tears are not locked.

What are these Gates of Tefillah and Tears? For that matter, why do we even bother praying, if the gate is locked?

Furthermore, we know that Tefillah took the place of the Korbanos. If the Korbanos ceased with the Churban and along with that, the Gates of Tefillah were locked, what is the point of the Tefillos?

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereshis 1;18)  explains that the Tefillah is indeed in place of a Korban, however, accompanying the Korban there was always the Nisuch HaMayim, pouring of water on Mizbeach. He explains that when we are mispallel with tears, we are representing the Nisuch Hamayim. This represents the Sefira of Chesed and the Yemin, which is where the Shaarei Teshuva are. 

Rabbeinu Bachye explains further (Shemos 22,20) that for this reason one should be careful with a Ger, Yosom or Almana  as they tend to cry more, and therefore their Tefillos are heard first. 

We also see that the Shaarei Dimah and Shaarei Teshuva are perhaps the same. The Midrash in Devarim Rabba 2  tells us that while the Shaarei Tefillah are sometimes open and sometimes closed, the Shaar Teshuva is never locked, as whomever wants to do Teshuva is welcomed in. 

The Arizal teaches us (Shar Mamarei Rashbi) that the Shaarei Tefillah are in the Sefira of Binah. This was the level Moshe Rabbeinu was on when he was davening after the Cheit HaEgel. There is a lower rung where Tefillah is accepted and that is through the Sefira of Chesed, in the Shaarei Teshuva and Dimah. 

What are these Sefiros and why are some Tefillos going through the higher sphere of Binah, while others are going via Chesed?

Furthermore, we saw in the Midrash that the Shaar Tefillah is not always locked, when is it open?

The Shaarei Orah (Shaar 2 – Sefira 9) tells us that the Shaar Tefillah is always open for the Tefillos of a Tzibbur. However, for the Tefillah of a Yachid, it is not so clear cut. He goes on to give us a very vivid explanation as to the back end of a Tefillah:

There is a Tefillah quality assurance system manned by Angels, wherein every Tefillah that an individual says goes into a special Heichal and and is reviewed.  If the Tefillah is found to be befitting, it is brought up to Hashem. If it is not a proper Tefillah, it is called a Tefillah Pesula and the Tefillah and all its contents are called Pesilim. These are pushed out of the Heichal and the doors shut behind it. The Shaarei Orah explains that based on this, we find most of our Tefillos are Pesilim and as we brought up earlier, it seems they are going to waste.  He explains that all these Tefillos that were pushed away Hashem gathers them to a special place where they are kept for safekeeping. When one is Mispallel properly with the right Kavana, the Kosher Tefillah then goes up to this special place and brings along with it all the Pesilim, straight up to Hashem. 

If one does not do Teshuva and does not daven with proper Kavana, these tefilos are pushed further out and the doors to the Shaarei Teshuva are shut. 

However, there is still another door, the Shaarei Dimah. These are opened 3 times a day by Hashem Himself and when a person does Teshuva and is Mispallel with tears, his Tefillah and tears will go straight to Hashem. 

We see that the Shaarei Teshuva and Shaarei Dimah are not necessarily the same thing. The Shaarei Teshuva can close too, but the Shaarei Dimah will never close. 

Reb Tzadok takes this a step further and explains that if one is mispallel a heartfelt Tefillah, not only does it go straight to the Kisei HaKavod, but any similar Tefillah that was said by his ancestors, without proper kavana, latches on to his Tefillah to go to Hashem. The Radomsker (Tiferes Shlomo, Vayera) says similarly, that with the correct Kavana you are elevating the unfit Tefillos of your previous gilgulim. 

May we all merit to have our Tefillos brought before Hashem and answered for our best. 

Focused Laughter

Berachos 31

מר בריה דרבינא עבד הילולא לבריה, חזנהו לרבנן דהוו קבדחי טובא. אייתי כסא דמוקרא בת ארבע מאה זוזי, ותבר קמיהו, ואעציבו. רב אשי עבד הילולא לבריה, חזנהו לרבנן דהוו קא בדחי טובא. אייתי כסא דזוגיתא חיורתא, ותבר קמיהו, ואעציבו.

The Gemara relates: Mar, son of Ravina, made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a valuable cup worth four hundred zuz and broke it before them and they became sad. The Gemara also relates: Rav Ashi made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a cup of extremely valuable white glass and broke it before them, and they became sad.

A bit further the Gemara tells us: 

תנו רבנן: אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך עצבות, ולא מתוך עצלות, ולא מתוך שחוק, ולא מתוך שיחה, ולא מתוך קלות ראש, ולא מתוך דברים בטלים, אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה.

On the topic of proper preparation for prayer, the Sages taught: One may neither stand to pray from an atmosphere of sorrow nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of conversation, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of purposeless matters. Rather, one should approach prayer from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva.

We see from these statements that at times one should avoid excessive happiness, yet one should daven from a place of happiness and joy.

The Chumash in Devarim tells us that we would get Klalos because we did not serve Hashem with Simcha. 

תחת אשר לא־עבדת את־יהוה אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל

Because you would not serve the LORD your God in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything.

The Gemara in Shabbos 30b tells us:

אין שכינה שורה לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך דבר שמחה של מצוה

The Divine Presence rests upon an individual neither from an atmosphere of sadness, nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of idle conversation, nor from an atmosphere of idle chatter, but rather from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzvah.

We see that there is prime importance in Simcha and acting in ways of Simcha. 

Why where they breaking glasses at weddings? Why did the Tannaim want to limit the Simcha at their own weddings? When are we meant to be happy and when are we meant to be sad?

We find in Melachim that the Jewish people had a well-deserved Simcha during the time of Dovid Hamelech.

ביום השמיני שלח את־העם ויברכו את־המלך וילכו לאהליהם שמחים וטובי לב על כל־הטובה אשר עשה יהוה לדוד עבדו ולישראל עמו

On the eighth day he let the people go. They bade the king good-bye and went to their homes, joyful and glad of heart over all the goodness that the LORD had shown to His servant David and His people Israel. – Rashi tells us that a Bas Kol came out and said everyone is gonna go to Olam Haba. 

They had a very good reason to be happy. 

However  one can be happy for not such lofty and spiritual reasons, as Rambam writes: Shevisas Yom Tov 6

כשאדם אוכל ושותה ושמח ברגל לא ימשך ביין ובשחוק וקלות ראש ויאמר שכל מי שיוסיף בזה ירבה במצות שמחה. שהשכרות והשחוק הרבה וקלות הראש אינה שמחה אלא הוללות וסכלות ולא נצטוינו על ההוללות והסכלות אלא על השמחה שיש בה עבודת יוצר הכל שנאמר (דברים כח מז) “תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה’ אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל”. הא למדת שהעבודה בשמחה. ואי אפשר לעבד את השם לא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שכרות:

When one eats and drinks on a festival, he should not be drawn after wine,joking or light-headedness, and say that the more one can increase this, the more it enhances the commandment of joy. For drunkenness, much joking and ligh-headedness are not joy, but rather wildness and foolishness. And we were not commanded about wildness and foolishness, but rather about joy that has service to the Maker of everything. As it is stated (Deuteronomy 28:47), “because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and with a good heart, from abundance of all.” Thus you have learned that the service is to be with joy. But it is impossible to serve God, neither from joking,  lightheadedness nor drunkenness.

We see a clear discernment between the two types of Simcha. A simcha of Avodas Hashem and a Simcha of Holelus, frivolity. When one is happy from serving Hashem with joy, it is encouraged. The moment, the Simcha becomes excessive and is no longer L’sheim Shamayim, we are afraid it would lead to frivolousness and inappropriate behavior. At this point, the Chachamim felt they had to do something radical  to get everyone to their senses. The Gemara does not mean that they became sad, but rather they toned down their happiness from an over-elation towards a proper balance of Ruchnius and Gashmius.

The Gemara teaches us that there will come a day when we will be able to have unlimited Simcha.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי: אסור לאדם שימלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה, שנאמר: ״אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רנה״. אימתי, בזמן ש״יאמרו בגוים הגדיל ה׳ לעשות עם אלה״. אמרו עליו על ריש לקיש שמימיו לא מלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה, מכי שמעה מרבי יוחנן רביה.

May we merit that day very soon. 

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. 

Recognizing your Flaws

Berachos Daf 29

רבי אליעזר אומר כל העושה תפלתו קבע וכו׳: מאי ״קבע״? … רבה ורב יוסף דאמרי תרוייהו: כל שאינו יכול לחדש בה דבר.

We learned in the mishna that Rabbi Eliezer says: One whose prayer is fixed, his prayer is flawed. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of fixed in this context?

Rabba and Rav Yosef both said: It refers to anyone unable to introduce a novel element, i.e., something personal reflecting his personal needs, to his prayer, and only recites the standard formula. 

אמר רבי זירא: אנא יכילנא לחדושי בה מילתא, ומסתפינא דלמא מטרידנא.

Rabbi Zeira said: I could introduce a novel element in every prayer, but I am afraid that perhaps I will become confused. Consequently, there is no room to require the masses to introduce a novel element into their prayers.

What was the chiddush in the tefilla?

The Avnei Nezer (YD 454;24) explains based on Brachos 57 that it was a Tefilla to be cleansed of Chet. Rebbi Zeira, felt that there was always something that was preventing him from reaching Shleimut. Therefore, he always had what to add into his tefillos. This was akin to the Tefillos of Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim, always striving to grow and purify himself more. In order to have a flawless prayer, one needs to be able to recognize his own flaws. However, due to Rebbi Zeira’s righteousness, he was afraid he would become confused and off track. Therefore, Rebbi Zeira stopped adding these Tefillos.

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.

The Details of a Tradition

Berachos Daf 27

אמר רבי זירא אמר רבי אסי אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא אמר רב: בצד עמוד זה התפלל רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי של שבת בערב שבת

כי אתא עולא אמר: בצד תמרה הוה, ולא בצד עמוד הוה. ולא רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי הוה, אלא רבי אלעזר ברבי יוסי הוה, ולא של שבת בערב שבת, הוה אלא של מוצאי שבת בשבת הוה.

Rabbi Zeira said that Rabbi Asi said that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said that Rav said: Alongside this specific pillar before me, Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, prayed the Shabbat prayer on the eve of Shabbat before nightfall.

But when Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he related a different version of this story. He said that he had heard: This transpired beside a palm tree, not beside a pillar, and it was not Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, but it was Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Yosei, and it was not the Shabbat prayer on Shabbat eve before nightfall, rather it was the prayer of the conclusion of Shabbat on Shabbat.

What is the difference, in this regard, between a pillar and a palm tree?

The Bnei Yissaschar in his sefer Magid Taluma writes, that the Tannaim were careful to note the place that a Torah thought was shared, as the association to that place is good for the memory. He continues, and quotes the Zohar, that when one mentions words of Torah a Tzaddik said, in the place it was originally said, the soul of the Tzadik comes to that place, as an impression was made by his words of Torah. Therefore, Ulla was careful to correct the Mesorah and specify the exact place of the Tefilla in question. 

We see from here the importance of Mesora and making sure each detail is correct. 

I am curious if there is a deeper approach to this, that the Gemara is coming to teach us. I will update this post as I further understand this. If you have any thoughts, I would love to see them in the comments below. 

The Three Components of Tefilla According to Rav Kook

Berachos Daf 26

איתמר, רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר: תפלות אבות תקנום…  אברהם תקן תפלת שחרית, שנאמר: ״וישכם אברהם בבקר אל המקום אשר עמד שם״, ואין ״עמידה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר: ״ויעמד פינחס ויפלל״.

Abraham instituted the morning prayer, as it is stated “And Abraham rose early in the morning to the place where he had stood” (Genesis 19:27), and standing means nothing other than prayer, as this language is used to describe Pinehas’s prayer after the plague, as it is stated: “And Pinehas stood up and prayed and the plague ended” (Psalms 106:30). 

יצחק תקן תפלת מנחה, שנאמר ״ויצא יצחק לשוח בשדה לפנות ערב״, ואין ״שיחה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר ״תפלה לעני כי יעטף ולפני ה׳ ישפך שיחו״.

Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer, as it is stated: “And Isaac went out to converse [lasuaḥ] in the field toward evening” (Genesis 24:63), and conversation means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated: “A prayer of the afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint [siḥo] before the Lord” (Psalms 102:1).

יעקב תקן תפלת ערבית, שנאמר: ״ויפגע במקום וילן שם״, ואין ״פגיעה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר: ״ואתה אל תתפלל בעד העם הזה ואל תשא בעדם רנה ותפלה ואל תפגע בי״

Jacob instituted the evening prayer, as it is stated: “And he encountered [vayifga] the place and he slept there for the sun had set” (Genesis 28:11). The word encounter means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated when God spoke to Jeremiah: “And you, do not pray on behalf of this nation and do not raise on their behalf song and prayer, and do not encounter [tifga] Me for I do not hear you” (Jeremiah 7:16).

Berachos 26 – Sefaria

We see from the Gemara above that we learn the concept of Tefila from the Avos. It is interesting that although the conclusive proof is that the Avos indeed prayed to God, there are three different terms for their three different prayers. 


What are the different terminologies for?

Rav Kook explains that these 3 terminologies are reflective of 3 different components to our Tefilla. 

He explains that the key concept of prayer is the gathering together of all the spiritual elements within a person, that would otherwise be lost in our world of materialism. Prayer enroots these spiritual elements to create a strong connection to the Creator of the world. In the event that one is caught up in other things and is sinking in his Ruchnius, those deeply rooted spiritual elements will keep him afloat.  

As morning is when one is getting ready for a day of work and other activities, it is a crucial time to make sure your spiritual roots are intact ready for the day ahead. This is called Amida, to stand, as it is helping you to stand tall spiritually.. This is also reflective of Avraham, who as the founder of Monotheism, was able to withstand all the trials and tribulations that came his way. 

Sicha, this name for Tefilla shares its name with Sichim, the trees and flowers of the natural world. Sichim are called this as they sprout up and instill new emotional energies into a person. Mincha takes place towards evening, when a person is worn down from a long day and the soul can then thrive in its best habitat. Also, hiis natural spiritual energies kick in to help him thrive in his Avodas Hashem and add more and more to his “tree”. Rav Kook explains that this growth process is the root of Middas HaDin, which is what keeps nature going in its correct path. Yitzchak represents Middas HaDin, therefore it is appropriate that he should compose this Tefila about the natural aspect of our spiritual growth. 

There is also a higher element of Tefila, in which through that, a person can connect to Hashem in more advanced ways; perhaps even reaching the level of prophecy. This is referred to as Tefillat Leila.  This is also called Pegiya, as one is going off the chartered path of Nature, or Din and stumbling into new realms which are beyond the grasp of one’s simple intellect. This is reflective of Yaacov who had a vision with a ladder and angels going up and down after he found himself at Har HaMoriyah and is most appropriate for nighttime.

AvrahamAmidaShacharitWithstand all that comes before you
YitzchakSiachMinchaTake what you have and grow from it
YaacovVaYifgaArvitReach Higher

This may also explain the opinion that one is not obligated to say Arvit, as it is just a Reshus. Tefilla is to help foster a spiritual firewall to protect you from slipping into too much materialism. Per this explanation of Rav Kook, this is accomplished during Shacharit to plant the roots and in Mincha to sprout upwards and bear fruits. Arvit is a higher level, beyond our comprehension, of reaching beyond the treetops. For this, it is not a Chovah to reach so high, rather it is a Reshus.

The Names of Our Fathers

Day 24 – Daf 25

The Gemara mentions a tradition said over by Rav Acha Bar Abba Bar Acha – Rav Acha the son of Abba, the son of Acha. This is a bit unusual that the Gemara goes to tell us the Yichus of an Amora. 

Rav Elchanan Shoff in his Birchasa V’Shirasa brings a Midrash:

Rav Yosi said that the earliest generations, all lived at the time of their ancestors, therefore they named their children based on events that were happening at the time of their birth. 

However, our ancestors no longer live for many generations, therefore we name our children after them. Rav Shimon ben Gamliel said that the earlier generations before the Amoraim used Ruach HaKodesh and therefore named their children after events when they were born. However, since the times of the Amoraim, we can’t tap into that Ruach Hakodesh, therefore we name after our ancestors.

Bereishis Rabba 37

I find it interesting as when one is naming a baby, we are often told that we have a glimpse of Ruach Hakosdesh when choosing a name. This often helps us feel comfortable with the name we chose. According to this Midrash, this does not seem to be the case. Another point is that many times we name our children names we like or based on specific events surrounding the birth of a child. For example, we may name our child Bracha or Chaim if born during a tumultuous time. According to this Midrash, we are no longer meant to be naming our children based on the events surrounding the birth, so why are we doing this?

 May we all be remembered by the Torah of our grandchildren.