Tag Archives: Rav Shteinman

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. 

Set Your Priorities

Day 13 – Berachos 14

 רַב אִידִי בַּר אָבִין אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר אַשְׁיָאן: אָסוּר לוֹ לָאָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת חֲפָצָיו קוֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְפַּלֵּל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״צֶדֶק לְפָנָיו יְהַלֵּךְ וְיָשֵׂם לְדֶרֶךְ פְּעָמָיו״. וְאָמַר רַב אִידִי בַּר אָבִין אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר אַשְׁיָאן: כָּל הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל וְאַחַר כָּךְ יוֹצֵא לַדֶּרֶךְ, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ חֲפָצָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״צֶדֶק לְפָנָיו יְהַלֵּךְ וְיָשֵׂם לְדֶרֶךְ פְּעָמָיו״.

Berachos 14

The Gemara tells us that one should make sure not to do business before davening and that one should daven before setting out on a trip, and if you do so, Hashem will take care of you. 

Rav Shteinman (K’Ayal Ta’arog) explained that if one is going to another city or neighboring Moshav to daven there, it is muttar as the Gemara is only talking about someone who is traveling for business purposes. 

The Pela Yoetz (#59 – Derech)  tells us that if someone will be traveling after Chatzos one should even daven Mincha at home before he goes. He goes on to say that if one would do this, you are guaranteed a safe and secure journey. 

The Ability to Pray for Another

Day 11 – Berachos 12

וְאָמַר רַבָּה בַּר חִינָּנָא סָבָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב: כֹּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְבַקֵּשׁ רַחֲמִים עַל חֲבֵירוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מְבַקֵּשׁ — נִקְרָא ״חוֹטֵא״. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״גַּם אָנֹכִי חָלִילָה לִּי מֵחֲטֹא לַה׳ מֵחֲדֹל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעַדְכֶם״.

And Rabba bar Ḥinnana Sava said in the name of Rav: Anyone who can ask for mercy on behalf of another, and does not ask is called a sinner, as it is stated following Samuel’s rebuke of the people: “As for me, far be it from me that I should transgress against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way” (I Samuel 12:23). Had Samuel refrained from prayer, he would have committed a sin.

Berachos 12b – Sefaria

The Gemara tells us that anybody who is able to pray on behalf of another should do so. One can ask – why doesn’t the Gemara simply say that one should pray on behalf of others, and if one is unable to, its ok. Why the seemingly extra words of “Anyone who can ask”?

Rav Steinman Zt’l explained so beautifully, that when it comes to interpersonal relationships, many times one has in his or her heart a grudge or feeling of jealousy against another. A prayer for someone that you bear a grudge against, is not considered a wholehearted prayer and is not necessarily answered.

Therefore, he explains, the Gemara says that only one who is able to pray wholeheartedly and drop any grudges against the other, should pray for his friend.