Tag Archives: Arizal

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. 

Does it Snow in Hell?

Day 14 – Berachos 15

אָמַר רַבִּי חָמָא בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא: כָּל הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּמְדַקְדֵּק בְּאוֹתִיּוֹתֶיהָ מְצַנְּנִין לוֹ גֵּיהִנָּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״בְּפָרֵשׂ שַׁדַּי מְלָכִים בָּהּ תַּשְׁלֵג בְּצַלְמוֹן״ — אַל תִּקְרֵי ״בְּפָרֵשׂ״ אֶלָּא ״בְּפָרֵשׁ״, אַל תִּקְרֵי ״בְּצַלְמוֹן״ אֶלָּא ״בְּצַלְמָוֶת״.

On this same topic, Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: Anyone who recites Shema and is punctilious in enunciating its letters, Gehenna is cooled for him, as it is stated: “When the Almighty scatters [befares] kings over it, it will snow in Tzalmon” (Psalms 68:15). Do not read befares, When He scatters, but befaresh, When he enunciates. When one enunciates the name of God with precision, God will fulfill the verse: It will snow in Tzalmon, on his behalf. Do not read beTzalmon, in Tzalmon, but betzalmavet, in the shadow of death, a reference to Gehenna. As reward for enunciating God’s name precisely, God will cool Gehenna for him.

Berachos 15 – Sefaria

The Gemara discusses the importance of not swallowing up the words in Shema and the importance of saying each word clearly. The Gemara then goes on to say that anyone who says each word slowly and clearly, Gehinnom will be cooler for them.

I found this difficult to understand, if one is saying every word of Shema clearly, he is presumably a Tzadik. So why is he going to Gehennom?

The Tzlach (Rav Yechezkel Landau, popularly known by his more famous work – Noda B’Yehuda) and the Gra (Imrei Noam) explain that this does not mean that it will be colder for Reshaim in hell. Rather, Tzaddikim go to Gehennom on their way to Gan Eden to take out any Jewish Reshaim that may be there, while there they suffer a little for the sake of the Rasha. This suffering is alleviated due to their slow pronunciation of the Shema. This concept is also found in the writings of the Arizal (Pri Eitz Chaim – Krias Shema Perek 3

(This may explain the tradition that Reb Nachman of Breslov said he will pull his Chassidim out of gehennom by their payos – Chayei Moharan #122) 

Re-settling the Neshama by Tefila

#DafChallenge Day 9. Berachos 10

The Gemara discusses the practice of not eating in the morning until one has davened. It is said over from the Arizal that the reason one should not eat before davening, is because one’s neshama is not yet properly resettled into the body until one davens. (Sefer Igra D’Kala – Noach)

I do not understand this connection, if you do, can you please share below?