Tag Archives: Tefila

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.

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) 

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.

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? 

The Ingredients of Unity

Day 7 – Berachos 8

The Gemara says that Hashem says that anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla B’tzibbur, He considers that person as if they freed Him and his son from amongst the nations.

The Tiferes Shlomo explains that the last sentence עם הציבור is referring not just to tefilla, but to Chesed and learning Torah as well. He elaborates, if one has in mind that: the Torah that one learns should be a protection for the Tzibbur, and the reward for his Chesed should go towards the Tzibbur and finally that his tefillos are on behalf of the tzibbur. 

The Maharal takes this a step further and explains that these 3 things are what unites the Jewish people during the times of Galus where everyone is separated from each other and scattered amongst the nations. Therefore anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla is working to bring the Jewish people back together and Hashem considers it as if you brought the Geula and redeemed Klal Yisrael from amongst the nations.

Based on Tiferes Shlomo Moadim. Maharal Netzach Yisrael 25

When Do We Learn From Eliyahu HaNavi?

Day 2 – Berachos 3

The Gemara tells a story of Rav Yosi who once went to daven in a ruin in Jerusalem as he was travelling. He met Eliyahu HaNavi who, amongst other things, told him off. From this he learned that one should not daven in a ruin, and if one is travelling and needs to daven he should say an abridged Tefila.

What is interesting here is that there is a general rule that the Torah is “לא בשמים היא”, It is not in the heavens (See Shabbos 108a in Rashi). We do not make halachos based on what we hear from heavenly voices or angels or other mystical characters such as Eliyahu Hanavi. So, why did Rav Yosi institute these Halachos after his discussion with Eliyahu?

Rav Elyashiv Zt’l explained that there is a difference as to how Eliyahu appeared; if he came and appeared as an angel, we do not learn from him. However, if he came and appeared as a human, he is like any other Talmid Chacham and we may learn from him.