Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: AVODAH Category:TEFILA Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Mabit - A Two Legged Petitioner The well known difference between man and animal is that an animal is classified as a "Chai" a living creature while man is greater than an animal because man is a Midaber, he speaks and he expresses intelligence which an animal lacks.

In the physical sense, says the Mabit (Bais Elokim Shaar HaTefila 7), there is another stark difference rooted in human intelligence. Man stands on two legs while an animal spends its life living on four. The reason for this difference says the Mabit is because every creature yearns for its roots. Only a connection to ones roots can sustain life much like a plant cannot continue to live once it is cut from its roots.

Animals are purely earthly creatures. The ground is where it gets its sustenance without much effort. It is the place that it will return to after its demise. It therefore spends its life on four legs always facing the earth to remain connected.

However man enjoys a connection to Hashem. Our Neshama and our physical sustenance both come from above and we strive to remain connected to the source of our existence. Our natural position is to stand on two legs and reach for the heavens. This is why Tefila must be in a standing position. Standing is how we petition Hashem to shower us from His perch with Bracha. Sitting is a contradiction to our prayers and therefore is not a natural or logical position for davening.

Tue, 09 Oct 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yechezkel Abramsky Struggles With Modeh Ani Money is our ticket in this world.  With money we can perform a great deal of mitzvos.  In Shema we say that we love Hashem "Bichol Mi'odecha" even if he would take away all our money.  But then how would we do mitzvos?

It is told that when Rav Yechezkel Abramsky was sent to the Siberia, he woke up one morning and started to say, "Modeh Ani."  Then he asked himself, "For what am I thanking Hashem?  I cannot perform any mitzvos.  What value is my life?"  Then he said the next word, "Lifanecha: Before you, Hashem."  That was his answer.  As long as I stand before you and do your will, my life's mission is accomplished.  You can decide which mitzvos I do, when, and how, and I accept your will.  All I need, is to be before you.

Maybe, when we preach our love to Hashem, we don't make calculations what mitzvos we could do and what resources we need in order to do even more.  We totally subjugate ourselves to Hashem's will.  Even if it means obliterating our memory from the world.  Even "Bichol Nafshecha" the destruction of our soul itself.  It is not about our contribution, but rather our uncompromising loyalty.

Maybe that is why in the second parsha of V'Haya Im Shamo'a, we say, "Bichol Livavchem and Nafshechem," but curiously we leave out, "Bichol Mi'odecha." In this parsha we are taking an oath of Kiyum HaMitzvos, to keep the commandments.  For this we need money.  When it comes to mitzvos there is a limit of how much you must spend to do a mitzva.  Not so when it comes to the essence of what we are.  We can accomplish the same thing whether wealthy or penniless.

Fri, 03 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Shemona Esrei - A Jewish Adventure Mobile!

Rav Tuvia Goldstein, Zt"l, once said, "When a Goy wants to go on trip he must tend to all the tedious details and make travel arrangements, arrange a hotel, get in his car and go. Not so a Jew. All we must do, is take three steps back for Shemona Esrei and away we go!"  The Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim, says that we are where our mind is, not where our body is.  Our mind often takes us on the greatest adventures without ever leaving our place. We can dream about vacation and a whirlwind of other events and still make it back on time for Kedusha.

That is how he explains the Pasuk, "Eileh Va'Rechev V'Eileh Ba'Susim;" the rest of the world needs their chariots and horses to get anywhere. "Va'Anachnu;" but us Jews, "B'Shem Hashem Elokeinu Nazkir;" we only need to mention Hashem's name (Shemona Esrei) and we can go anywhere we want.

Mon, 02 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei HaTefila: Modim D'Rabanan - A Heartfelt Thank You

Throughout Chazaras Hashatz we are content to stand silently and listen to the Chazan petition Hashem on our behalf.  Suddenly, by Modim, we chime in and say Modim by ourselves.  Why?

The answer is that for all our requests from Hashem for health, sustenance, redemption, forgivenes, etc. it is always beneficial to send a single representative to speak to the King on behalf of the public, in order to have a better chance of having our requests granted.  But when it come to thank you we must say it personally never through an agent.  Thank you must be from the heart and from your mouth for it to be worth anything.

Wed, 21 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: While Saying Shema... Maybe You Should Think About Your Job?

It is brought down that there is a special Inyan while saying the first pasuk of Shema to picture yourself dying "Al Kiddush Hashem." In Shema we say we love Hashem, "Bichol Nafshecha U'Bichol Mi'odecha"; with our very lives and all our money. The Gemara says that for people who value their money more than their lives, their ultimate sacrifice would be to become penniless on Hashem's account. Logically, it follows that for a person who can easier see himself dead than as a complete pauper and have to face up to his friends, family, grocery, bank, bills, etc., the ultimate Mesiras Nefesh for Hashem is exactly that.

Therefore, while picturing yourself standing as hero being burned at the stake is a very high Madreiga, maybe picturing yourself standing before your boss and deciding to do the right thing even it will get you fired, or sitting in the quiet of your office with only you and your conscience and deciding to take the less profitable road because it is more "Kosher" or because it is more fair to your colleagues or customers, may be an even higher Madreiga. What do you think?

Tue, 30 Jun 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Baruch She'Amar - Strength To Carry On

In Baruch She'Amar we praise Hashem with a series of "Baruch"s for creating the world, having mercy on us, rewarding his followers etc. On peculiar "Baruch" is "Baruch Goizer U'Mikayem" praise for keeping his decrees. Wouldn't we be happier if Hashem did not go forward with the bad decrees?

The Skulener Rebbe answers that the word Mikayem does not refer to Hashem keeping his decree but rather being "Mikayem" the person throughout the decree. Many times a person is faced with a very difficult situation that by nature they ordinarily would not be able to deal with. Nevertheless, we often see that somehow that person gets supernatural strength and surprises all those around them with their ability to deal with it. This strength comes from Hashem. That is what we thank him for. Praised is Hashem who even when He gives us a bad decree he is also Mikayem us; he gives us the strength to carry on.

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Chasam Sofer's Son Hears A Vort From Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch's Son-In-Law

Rav Shimon Schwab, in his sefer Iyun Tefila, tells the story of how once Rav Shimon Sofer, the son of the Chasam Sofer, met his friend, Rav Shlomo Zalman Breuer, and the former asked the latter to tell him a nice vort from his father-in-law, Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch. 

Rav Breuer said that in the awesome Tefila of Adon Olam we describe the greatness of Hashem.  But what is the climax of this greatness?  We say, "V'Hu Haya, V'Hu Hoveh, V'Hu Yihiyeh Bisifara; He was, and He is, and He continues to be in all his glory."  Then we get to the crescendo and we say, "V'Hu Keili; Hashem, who is all powerful, He is the one and only, He will always exist and rule the universe." This same Hashem, is V'Hu Keili, He is my Hashem, who through all this, takes the time and trouble to watch over little me and orchestrate every minute detail of my life. 

I am one in six billion on a planet that is one out of billions, and although He rules over all of this, I am still important, and he is my personal Hashem, who listens to my tefilos whenever I turn to Him.

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
The Shela HaKadosh: A Few Swipes Free The Mind A segula is brought down in the name of the Shela HaKadosh for clearing the mind prior to davening.  He says you should pass your right hand over your forehead three times.  Each time you should say (Tehilim 51:12), "Lev Tahor Bira Li Elokim V'Ruach Nachon Chadesh Bikirbi; Create in me a pure heart, and renew a constant spirit inside me."  If a foreign thought interrupts your davening after you've already started, you should stop davening for a moment, pass your right hand over your forehead three times, and think this pasuk to yourself.  The Debriciner Rov says (Be'er Moshe 2:3) that even a lefty should use his right hand.

The Baalei Mussar say that you are not guilty if a foreign thought comes into your mind suddenly.  However, it is your responsibility to send it right back out with letting it linger.

The Kotzker Rebbe had a big problem with the concept of Machshavos Zoros or foreign thoughts.  He wondered why it was called "foreign" if it comes from the person himself???

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Yaakov Avinu Teaches Us To Be Overwhelmed With Thanks

A talmid had made a point of observing his Rebbe at the latter’s every move, in order to learn from the Rebbe’s actions and to mold his own character after an ideal model baal avoda. The talmid noticed that the Rebbe’s Shmonah Esrei took a given amount of time each tefilla, give or take a minute or two. One day, though, the tefilla of the Rebbe was quite longer than usual and out of the ordinary for this meticulous and “predictable” individual. The talmid decided to approach the Rebbe and ask him directly about his actions. The Rebbe answered, “My Shmoneh Esrei length is gauged by the amount of time it takes me to think a moment about each bracha and then continue to recite the tefilla. Today, however, when I got up to the bracha of ‘modim’, I became so overwhelmed by how much I have to thank Hashem for what He has given me that it simply just took me longer.”  

Do we ever have this “problem”? That we are so overwhelmed by Hashem’s goodness that we just feel like a gigantic baal chov?  It seems that the Rebbe wasn’t the only one dealing with such “issues”. In this week’s parsha, Yaakov Avinu begins his entreaty on the way to confront and combat Eisav with the words, “Katonti Mikol HaChasadim U'Mikol HaEmes.” The Ramban and Kli Yakar, seem to indicate that Yaakov was referring to this very concept. Yaakov expressed his innermost feelings toward Hashem that the kindness that Hashem continuously bestowed on him have made him “small” without any room at all to think that his deeds or actions have anything to do with his successes in life, the polar opposite of the aveira of “kochi v’otzem yadi”.  

This is the ultimate ‘segula’ (if you will) to become zoche to receive more from Hashem, since feeling this way will ensure that the shefa tov will be used to perpetuate more good. It shows that you have a healthy sense of Yiras Shomayim, which is the tachlis of the creation. Developing a sense of feeling non-deserving to receive Hashem’s kindness can take just a few short moments – maybe a short pause before modim, like the Rebbe did.

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Nose Doesn't Always Knows

In Pitum HaKitores we say that if we added a bit of honey to the kitores, the smell would be so magnificent that it would be too much for a person to be able to handle.  But we don't do it.  Why?  Because the Torah says that no honey is allowed to be offered on the Mizbei'ach.  But, but, but you don't understand the kitores is about smell, and this would truly make it worthy to offer before Hashem!

The lesson we see from this is that there is no sweeter smell for Hashem then his children listening to his instructions.  Sometimes we reveal a reason to our children, explaining some of the things we do.  We explainto them in a way that they can understand, although there are many more deep reasons for why we do what we do.  Because of this, sometimes it appears to our children that we are contradicting ourselves or just making a grave error.  Unfortunately, we can't always explain everything, and we wish that the child will just accept what we say and trust that we know what we are talking about.

Same thing with Hashem and his commandments.  We may think we know better and it looks so obvious, but we don't. Even the kitores is about much more than good smell.  So yes, to our mortal understanding it seems obvious that we should add the honey, nevertheless, Hashem has decreed otherwise.  You can be sure that the kitores done His way, is far more potent and sweet smelling in the bigger realm of things.

Mon, 01 Dec 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Rabbeinu Asher: Forgive You For What? The Rosh in Orchos Chaim (36) writes that you must have kavana by tefila because after all what else is tefila about.  He poses the question, "What would you do if your son came to speak to you and he himself had no idea what he was babbling about?  Wouldn't that make you mad?  Forget the chutzpah what about the waste of time!  Certainly," he says, "when a lowly mortal is given the opportunity to stand before Hashem and plead his case before the Al-mighty, how dare he not tremble as if he were a servant who did not do his master's bidding.

And what should you have in mind when you beg for forgiveness in Slach Lanu?  Why of course, for saying Slach Lanu without any kavana!  Tatte in Himmel, please help us take advantage of this golden opportunity and not turn it into a reason for you to be really angry with us!   Oy, Ribono Shel Olam, please help us daven as is befitting before you!

Mon, 17 Nov 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Hallel: Who Promised You That The Succah Is Safe?

In Hallel Dovid HaMelech tells us, "Tov Lachasos BaHashem Mivtoach BaAdam;" It is better to rely on Hashem than trust a person." (Tehilim 118)  Isn't this obvious for anyone remotely religious?  What is Dovid HaMelech teaching us?

 The mefarshim explain that "Livtoach" means to trust that a person will keep his promise while "Lachasos" means to believe that you will be helped by someone who hasn't even said he will help you.

"Al Tivtichu BiNedivim B'Ven Adam She'ein Lo Teshua; (Tehilim 146) Do not rely on the promises of a generous person no matter how honest or reliable."  The fact is that he is mere flesh and blood and cannot even insure his own well being.  How can he guarantee yours?  Does he know what his plight will be tomorrow to be sure that he can come through for you?  Will he even be alive?

Dovid HaMelech says that it is better to trust that Hashem will help you even if He hasn't promised you anything.  Even if you are undeserving.  Even if you have done aveiros.  The hope of His help is far more assured that than the promise your friend, the bank, the government, or your insurance company.

On Succos we leave the safety of our man made sanctuary, our home.  We expose ourselves to the elements in our unprotected succah.  We put ourselves under the protection of Hashem without any guarantees. 

The Kotzker Rebbe said that he can understand a poor person who worries what he will eat tomorrow (although he shouldn't), but he cannot understand the fool who thinks that because he has money he knows that he will eat tomorrow.  Tov Lachasos BaHashem!

Thu, 16 Oct 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila, Again And Again Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, the Yismach Moshe, was famous for giving out Kemeiyos and Segulos to people who needed a Yeshua.  Rav Eizik of Ziditchov did not appreciate this.  He complained to the Yismach Moshe that Tefila is the way Hashem gave to us to save ourselves in times of trouble.  The Yismach Moshe answered with the words of Chazal, “Tefila Oseh Chetzi”, tefila only accomplishes half.  To this Rav Eizik responded, then daven twice!

We have all sorts of ideas of methods to save ourselves from our tzorus whether financial, health, marital, etc.  This world is not a treasure where Hashem wants us to use our brains to come up with the best way to extract the things we desire from him.  It’s much simpler than that.  Just turn you your eyes to Heaven and ask!   The only problem is that to do that you will need to concede that you are totally powerless and must accept His decision.  But as Rav Eizik said, you can always ask again… and again. 

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Don't Forget The Magic Word

In the Tefila Adon Olam, we talk about Hashem being King of the world.  The Maggid of Plotzk asks in his Siddur Shaar HaRachamim, why do we start with the words Adon Olam Asher Molach, Master of the world who was King?  Shouldn't we start Melech HaOlam, the King of the world?

He answers with the Mishna in Tamid (3:2) that says that in the Bais HaMikdash when they would check the horizon and declare that the eastern sky is becoming light, they would ask if the light had reached Chevron.  Why Chevron?  The Yerushalmi Yuma (3:1) answers, to remember the Zechus of Avrohom Avinu.  We see from there that when coming to Tefila it is good to bring Avrohom with us.

The gemara in Brachos (7a) says that from creation until Avrohom, no one ever referred to Hashem as Master of the world.  Using the term Master to call to Hashem summons up the memory of Avrohom and helps our Tefilos get answered even if we are not deserving.  Similarly in Shmoneh Esrei we start with the Shem Hashem of "Adon" to start with Avrohom.

If we want hashem to answer us we should not ask for something in our own z'chus.  We must always ask B'Zchus Avos.  So remember, "Please" is a really nice and polite word and can open up many doors.  But when it comes to Tefila, the real magic word is "Avrohom".

Mon, 11 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000 Between Ashrei and U’Va LTziyon during Shacharis, we say Lamnatzei’ach… Ya’ancha Hashem B’Yom Tzara”, Hashem should answer us in our day of pain.  The Vilna Gaon in Yahel Ohr (2:119:2) says that there are 70 words in this Perek corresponding to the 70 years of the suffering the Yidden will experience before Moshiach comes.  The last ones will be the most painful just like in Mitzrayim where Paroh increased their workload after Moshe came to redeem them.  Similarly the morning is called “Shachar” as in black because the time right before it starts to get light in the morning is the blackest period of the night.

The reason why we need the pain is to make the Geula come faster.  The entire history of our galus is compared to a pregnant woman.  While carrying a child in the womb is painful for the entire duration, it pales in comparison to the period of labor, which in our case would be the Chevlei Moshiach just as the Geula is about to be born.  As the pain gets worse says the Vilna Gaon, we should realize that this means the geula is very close at hand.  Hang in there!

Sun, 10 Aug 2008 03:00:00 +0000
The Unidentical Twin Doors of Tefila

The gemara in Brachos says that one must stand the distance of two door ways away from the entrance of the Shul during davening.  The Lechem Avirim (Al Hatorah Parshas Balak) explains this B'Derech Drush.

To stand in front of the King of all Kings and make our simple requests is quite frightful.  After all have we respected all his wishes?  How dare we stand before him with more requests?   However Chazal tell us "Pischu Li... KiChudoi Shel Machat VaAni Eftach Lachem Pesach Shel Ulam", Hashem asks us to open up in our hearts a small opening no bigger than the tip of a needle and then He will reciprocate and open up a huge gate through which He will send us His blessing.

This, says the Lechem Avirim, are the two doors of Tefila.  One is the small door we make in our heart and the other is Hashem's gigantic door.  When nervous about davening to Hashem we should keep this two door arrangement in mind.  Then we will be less frightful, knowing that Hashem does not expect us to match his largesse.

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: The Nose Never Lies

The Gemara in Brachos says that we make a Bracha on a good smell because the pasuk says "Kol HaNeshama Tehalel Kah" even the Neshama praises Hashem. What is the connection between the Neshama praising Hashem and the sense of smell? The sense of smell is rooted in the Neshama it is a spiritual sense. Rav Yechiel Michel Stern in his Siddur Iyun HaTefila brings from the Maharsha (Brachos 43b) that since animals do not have a Neshama they do not enjoy smell although they are in fact able to smell. Smell is a far more spiritual sense than either hearing or seeing.

The Maharsha adds in Sanhedrin (93b) that people will not make mistakes with the sense of smell like they would in judging things sensed by the ears and eyes. This is the pshat in the pasuk in Yeshaya (11:3) that Moshiach will judge with his sense of smell and not with his eyes or ears. His power to judge will come from his neshama and he will not be fooled by the world. Similarly our sense of smell praises Hashem because it is the closest of our sense to the eternal truth.

Mon, 24 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Yehi Chivod & Purim: What Are We Apologizing About?

It is interesting that in Yehi Chivod after going on and on about how great Hashem is; he created the universe; he is, was, and will be king; he turns around the devious plans of our enemies; whatever he says will be; and so on; after that we say "V'Hu Rachum Yichaper Avon" Hashem should forgive us for our aveiros. What is the connection?

Maybe the explanation is that we are just starting our tefila in which we will beseech Hashem for our multitude of earthly requests. If we really believe what we say in Yehi Chivod all these request would be totally unnecessary. After all Hashem looks out for us as does what is best. Didn't we just proclaim how he knows and understands everything and only does good for us even if we think otherwise? Didn't we see how Hashem works even behind the scenes in the Nes of Purim. After saying Yehi Chivod, asking for anything is hypocritical and foolish. Therefore we apologize beforehand and say, yes Hashem we know it's all true but we can't help ourselves. Since You are so merciful please forgive us for everything we will ask and even answer our prayers!

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Chasidim, Ashkenazim, Sefardim, All Together Now There are various ways in which different minhagim start the Tefila. Some say Hodu before Baruch She'Amar and some say Mizmor L'Soda first and Hodu after. At what point do all the various Nuschaos say the same thing? Yehi Chivod Hashem. This teaches us that although we may each have our own minhagim, when it comes to Kavod Hashem we must all get together.

Mon, 03 Mar 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Yehi Chivod - Hashem's Eternal Reign

The pasuk says Hashem Melech (present tense), Hashem Muluch (past), Hashem Yimloch (future). Isn't this out of order? Shouldn't the pasuk start with past and work its way to the future? The Siddur Iyun Tefila (Rav YM Stern) says that we are praising Hashem for an eternal reign that is beyond our comprehension. We only understand a kingdom that has subjects. Hashem is King whether there are subjects or not.

Therefore we say Hashem Melech, not only is Hashem the King in the present when there is a world full of people but he is also King in the past "B'Terem Kol Yetzir Nivra" from before the time of creation, and also in the future "V'Acharei Kichlos Hakol, Livado Yimloch"; after everything ceases to exist Hashem will still continue to reign supreme.

Wed, 06 Feb 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Adon Olam - Don't Underestimate, It Packs A Lot of Power!

The Mateh Moshe writes that "This is a beautiful excellent Tefila. Whoever has Kavana while saying it, Rav Yehuda HaChasid, Rav Hai Gaon and Rav Sherira Gaon guarantee that his tefilos will be answered and the Satan will not interfere with his tefilos. Additionally he will not have a Satan or "Pega Ra" on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur and his enemies will fall before him. Some say that even the Yetzer Hara will make peace with him, like Shlomo HaMelech writes in Mishlei (16:7) Birtzos Hashem Darkei Ish Gam Oivuv Yashlim Imoy"; when Hashem is happy with the ways of a person even his enemies will make peace with him."

The Be'er Mordechai points out that the earliest credit for writing Adon Olam is given to Rav Shlomo Ibn Gvirol who lived after Rav Hai Gaon and Rav Sherira Gaon and died approximately 4818/1058. Others say it was composed after the year 5000.

Mon, 14 Jan 2008 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila - Mizmor L'Soida: A Special Thank You Every Day

Out of all the Korbonos the one incorporated into our daily Tefila (not including the Korbonos before davening) is the Korban Toidah which we refer to in Mizmor L'Soida. Rav Yaakov Emden says that we say this mizmor every day since not a day goes by that we don't experience a Nes even though we don't realize it. Therefore we acknowledge this Chesed of Hashem.

The Rokei'ach says there are 41 words in Mizmor L'Soida which corresponds to the 40 breads that are brought together with the Korban Toidah and the Korban itself. In this mizmor it says Hashem's name four times for the four kinds of bread that are brought with the Korban (10 each of Matza, Challah, Rebucha, and Chametz) with one each going to the Kohen. It also signifies the 4 people who must bring a Korban Toidah. (Siddur Iyun Tefila)

Mon, 24 Dec 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila - Baruch She'amar: Vilna Gaon - The Wonderful King With a Crooked Nose

We end Baruch She'amar by saying "Melech Mihulal Batishbachos"; the King that is glorified with praise. The Vilna Gaon asks why do we need to say "with praise"? How else do we glorify the King,? With insults?

He answers with a Mashal. There was a wonderful King who was perfect in every way. His only flaw was that he had a crooked and twisted nose. On his birthday it was the custom for each minister to get up at the party and say something nice about the king. One said he was smart, another said he was kind and so on and so forth. One very smart minister got up and said that the king had a crooked nose. He was immediately jailed and at the trial he was sentenced to death for insulting the king. Before he was killed, the king knowing that this was a very smart minister, asked him why he said what he did and what he meant by it. The minister answered that he gave the biggest compliment of them all. How? He explained that the minister who said that the king was strong implied that he wasn't smart, and the one that said he was smart implied he wasn't kind. However when he said the king's nose was crooked he implied that the king had no other faults and was perfect in every way.

The Vilna Gaon says that this only applies to a human king. Hashem on the other hand cannot be complimented by pointing out any flaws because he is perfect in every way and we therefore need to content ourselves to saying the limited amount of praises that we are capable of. That is why we say "the King that is glorified with praise" to exclude the possibility of glorifying Hashem with a single minor insult.

Mon, 19 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefilas Mincha: Come Right In How Can I Help You?!? Shmoneh Esrei is the pinnacle of davening. It's the opportunity to stand before Hashem and make your requests. In the morning by Shacharis we wake up early. We don't do anything before davening such as work or eat in order to keep our minds and body;s pure. We put on our Tefilin surrounding ourselves in kedusha. Then we take a long journey where we traverse the four worlds in our quest to get an audience before Hashem. Brachos and korbonos help us escape the physical world (Asiya). Pesukei Dizimra helps us navigate our way through the malachim (Yetzira). Birchas Shema and Shema gives us admission past the tough inner guards until finally we are granted a personal with Hashem for Shmoneh Esrei. This all sounds plausible.

What is harder to understand is Mincha. We spend our time absorbed at work. We eat lunch. Then we "grab" or "chap" a mincha. Not only that but all we say is "Ashrei" and then boom! There we are standing face to face with the King of All Kings before we even have a chance to take our latest order/client out of our mind. If that's not enough the gemara in Brachos 6b says that Tefilas Mincha is your best chance to be granted what you ask for. All that without the entire preparation.

Any thoughts???

Mon, 05 Nov 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: A King's Ransom For Praising Hashem

If you take the first letter of the words "Yishtabach Shimcha La'ad Malkeinu Ha'Kel" excluding the first word, it forms the word "Shlomo". Some say that Shlomo HaMelech wrote this particular bracha. The Chida says that if you take the Roshei Teivos of the first four words including the first word you get the word "Yishaleim", or he will reward. He explains that although we are so insignificant and understand so little about Hashem's greatness nevertheless we praise him and are rewarded for it. Our reward is so great that it is K'yad HaMelech Sholmo, a reward fit for a king. This he says is the connection between Shlomo and Yishtabach. (Otzros Mifarshei Hatefila)

Mon, 29 Oct 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: A Tzaddik and The Lame, Crippled, and Blind

In the first Haleluka we say Hashem unties the bound, Hashem opens the eyes fo the blind,... Hashem loves Tzadikim. Someone once asked the Kotzker Rebbe why is it that Tzadikim are buried in the perek among all the Baalei Mumim? He answered that a tzaddik is similar to someone who is handicapped. Just like the handicapped person knows his only hope for recovery is in Hashem's hands and not through his own power so too a tzaddik knows that anything that happens in his life both for good and bad is all up to the discretion of Hashem and not through his or anyone else's efforts. (Otzros MiFarshei HaTefila)

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Palagi on Raised Voices And Sharp Swords

Yitzchok said to Yaakov when he came him to get the Brachos, "HaKol Kol Yaakov V'Hayadayim Yedei Eisav." Chazal explain that when the "kol" the voice of Yaakov is heard with Torah and Tefilla we will not have to face the hand of Eisav whose bracha and strength in this world lie in his physical might. "Al Charbicha Tichye" by the sword you shall live. Even more than this we see by the great amora Rav Yehoshua Ben Levi who was able to take the sword of the Malach HaMaves through his Torah learning and go into Gan Eden alive. Not only was the sword of Eisav silenced he was able to take possession of it.

This, says Rav Chaim Palagi, in the name of his son Rav Yitzchok, is the meaning of the pasuk of the fourth Haleluka. Roimimois Kel Bigronom, V'Cherev Pifiyos B'Yadam"; if we raise Hashem with our voices (in Torah and Tefilla) we will have the sharp sword (the weapons of Eisav) in our hands.

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefilla: Alshich - Freaking Out Malachim With Our Tefillos

We have no idea the impact we make in Shamayim when we utter a single name of Hashem. The skies shake and the malachim tremble. When they look down and see who dares mention the name of Hashem they are in a state of bewilderment. How dare lowly human beings freely utter Hashem's name! Yet during the course of the day we utter it hundreds of times as if nothing happened.

This is what we say in Yishtabach, says the Alshich, "Adon HaNiflaos"; the master of amazement, "HaBocher Bishirei Zimra" amazing how Hashem can cherish the tefillos of mere earthlings who don't even grasp the significant of their chanting. While this truly incredible on Hashems's part, the least we can do is actually pay attention to the best of our human limitations when we say Hashem's name.

Wed, 15 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Maharal - The Difference Between Clothing and Shoes

A person's clothing gives him respect. The gemara says that one Amora called his clothing his "honor". Shoes, says the Maharal, are not worn for respect rather for necessity to protect our feet from harm. When we go to a Makom Kadosh our shoes must be removed. Moshe Rabbeinu was told to remove his shoes when he stood before the burning bush. One must remove his shoes before entering Har HaBayis.

That is why in the morning when we thank Hashem for our clothing we use the term "Malbish" our dress, a term of respect. When it comes to shoes we thank Hashem for providing us with all our necessities which is the shoes that protect us from harm "SheAsah Li Kol Tzorki".

Wed, 08 Aug 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Vilna Gaon - Who Will Build The Third Bais HaMikdash?

In Pesukei D'Zimra in the second Haleluka we say Bonei Yerushalyim Hashem. The Zohar says from here we see that the third Bais HaMikdash will be built by Hashem Himself. Why? The Gra explains that the first two Bais HaMikdash were built by people and therefore were able to be destroyed. However the third which will never be destroyed can be built only by Hashem.

He brings proof from the pasuk in Tehilim that says "Im Hashem Lo Yivneh Bayis Shav Amlu Boinuv Boi"; If Hashem does not build the house, for naught the builders toil.

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Tefila: Ma Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov - Not Everyone Thinks It Is So Wonderful

The Maharshal refused to say Ma Tovu before davening because Bilam meant it as a curse. Others argue that since the gemara in Sanhedrin (105b) says that although all the other Brachos of Bilam later reverted to Bilam's originally intended K'lala the bracha of Ma Tovu remained. The problem with this argument, says the Tikun Tefila, is that the second half of the pasuk ‘Mishkinosecha Yisroel" did indeed revert back to a curse so the Maharshal would be correct not to say it according to that reasoning. Nevertheless he says we should say it since the bracha depends on our positive intention in the words and not what Bilam really meant.

The  Tikun Tefila says that for further proof that we need not worry about Bilam's intentions, the gemara in Brachos (12b) says that the Chachomim wanted to institute saying all the brachos of Bilam in davening but decided against it only because it is too long and would be a Tircha on the Tzibur. Apparently the gemara held these brachos in very high esteem.  Moreover we mention the pasuk of "Lo Hibit Aven B'Yaakov" in Mussaf of Rosh Hashsana.  Additionally the gemara in Pesachim (111a) says that the pasuk of "(K)El Motzi'am MiMitzrayim" can be used to ward off certain evil spirits.

Wed, 27 Jun 2007 03:00:00 +0000
AriZal: The Secret to Hashem Answering Your Tefilos? Have In Mind Before Starting to Daven That You Love Every Jew.

What does V'Ahavta L'Rei'acha Komocha have to do with davening? When we daven to Hashem we are asking him to answer our prayers because everything is in his hands and only his hands. The reason why we don't love everyone is because of the negative things they may have done to us. If we truly believe that everything that happens to us comes exclusively from Hashem and that that no one can do anything bad to us unless Hashem wills it, than we would indeed love everyone without exception.

In order to show Hashem that we really rely on him as the only real source of our sorrow and happiness, we express our love for every Jew before davening. With this bitachon Hashem will certainly answer our tefilos.

Wed, 30 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Asher Yatzar Before the Heavenly Throne

In the bracha of Asher Yatzar after mentioning the intricacies of the human body and all its complexities we say that "it is clear before the Kiseh HaKavod" that we cannot exist without Hashem's constant intervention. Why do we use the expression of Hashem's "Honorable Throne".

The Vilna Gaon answers that conceptually many people believe in Hashem as the Great God. Being so great they cannot accept that Hashem intervenes with mere humans. Asher Yatzar is a great praise we give to Hashem to proclaim that quite the opposite is true. Most kings only involve themselves with important and honorable matters especially while presiding on the royal throne. Not so Hashem the true King. Hashem while sitting on His Holy throne concerns himself with every limb and every bodily function of every lowly human being.

Gematria: The Gra says that Chalulim Chalulim is numerically equivalent to 248. To show us we need to thank Hashem for every one of our limbs.

Sun, 27 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Shabbos Mevorchim: A Long Life in 30 Days?

In Birchas Hachodesh we ask for a long list of things we would like Hashem to grant us for the month. One of them is long life. Since this tefilla is for the month this particular request seems out of place.

One explanation can be that for every mitzva we do we earn eternal life. In this tefilla we are not asking Hashem to let us live a long time we are asking him to help us earn in just 30 days a very long and happy eternity by giving us many opportunities to do many valuable mitzvos.

Fri, 11 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Yotzer Ohr U"Vorei Choshech - Darkness and Evil are the Real Chiddush

Rav Shimshon Pincus explains that Hashem is all good and it would be natural for the world to be good and perfect. The novelty of the creation of the world was to hide Hashem's goodness and challenge people to uncover it. Therefore the essence and purpose of creation was to create darkness and evil.

The word Bri'ah means "Yesh Mei'Ayin" something from nothing. That is darkness. Darkness did not exist in concept before the world. Darkness and Evil were created from nothing. Light and goodness however were always present, they needed only to be shaped into a state that would strike the right balance with darkness in the world. The word for that is "Yotzer".

That is why we say Yotzer Ohr - shaping the light: U'Vorei Choshech - and creating darkness. The ending of this pasuk in Yeshaya is Oseh Shalom U'Vorei "Rah" although we say U'Vorei Es Hakol. (Nefesh Shimshon)

Mon, 07 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Do Our Tefilos Get Us in Trouble?

What we ask for from Hashem is not always what is good for us. The pasuk in Koheles (5:1) says, "Do not rush to speak before Hashem, because Hashem is in the Heaven and you are on the earth therefore your words should be few." Only Hashem who knows our purpose on this world and the master plan can decide what is good for us physically and materially.

The old chasiddishe vort explains the pasuk in Ashrei. "Retzon Yerei'av Ya'aseh; The will of his feared ones He does" and when they realize how bad it was for them to have their wishes fulfilled, even then "V'Es Shvasam Yishma V'Yoshi'eim; Hashem heeds their cries and saves them." As we say in "mama lashon", Be careful what you ask for because you may get it!

Thu, 03 May 2007 03:00:00 +0000
Biurei Tefila: Why Are We So Smart? In all the middle Brachos of Shemona Esrei when we as Hashem for something, for example health, we start the bracha with the request to be healed and at the end acknowledge that only Hashem has the power to heal. But when it comes to asking for wisdom the order is reversed. First we acknowledge and then we ask. Why?

When it comes to wealth, health, forgiveness, salvation, etc. an honest assessment of the situation clearly reveals that these things are in Hashem's hand. However with an inborn gift like wisdom, we truly believe it is ours and is here to stay.  We also don't necessarily believe that we can magically become smarter overnight.

This is why before asking for Hashem to grant us additional wisdom we must first acknowledge that Hashem controls wisdom, and gives it and takes it as he sees fit. Only then can we make our personal petition for it.

Tue, 24 Apr 2007 03:00:00 +0000