web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Prayer And Its Origins (Part II)

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

 

Summary of our response up to this point: The Gemara (Ta’anit 2a) explains that “to love the L-rd your G-d and to serve Him with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 11:13) refers to a type of service that is of the heart, i.e., prayer.

The Patriarchs and their progeny before the revelation at Mount Sinai were not bound by the Torah, yet our sages teach us that they nonetheless observed the mitzvot, including prayer. One of the earliest references to prayer in the Torah is Genesis 20:17, which relates that Abraham asked G-d to heal the king of the Philistines.

According to tradition, the Patriarchs established the three daily prayers (Berachot 26b). Abraham established Shacharit, Isaac instituted Minchah, and Jacob introduced Ma’ariv. They did not establish the formal text of these prayers, however. Rather, they set the times of day for prayer.

So important is prayer that G-d Himself engages in it. The Talmud (Berachot 7a) expounds on Isaiah 56:7, “I will bring them to My sacred mountain and I will rejoice with them in the house of My prayer,” saying that the word “tefilati – My prayer” demonstrates that G-d Himself engages in prayer on our behalf.

In his Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam records prayer as a mitzvah, the fifth in his listing of the positive precepts. The Chafetz Chayyim lists prayer as the seventh mitzvah in his Sefer HaMitzvot Hakatzar. His list includes only those precepts that are possible to observe outside the Land of Israel, now that we are bereft of the Temple.

* * * * *

We now cite from the Rambam’s magnus opus, the Yad Hachazaka (Hilchot Tefillah ch. 1). Drawing on many sources, he provides us with a clear understanding of the post-Sinaitic requirement for prayer. He writes: “On the basis of tradition, we have learned that the avodah [referred to in the Torah] means prayer…. The number of prayers in itself is not derived from the Written Law, nor is the order of the prayers [nor is their text, adds the Kesef Mishneh]. Also [from the Torah] there is no set time [of day] for prayer. Women and slaves are therefore required to pray since it is a positive precept that is not dependent upon time. The precept requires a person to implore [G-d] and pray daily and recount the praise of the Holy One, blessed be He, and afterward ask for all his needs in a manner of entreaty and supplication. He should give praise and thanks to G-d for the good that He has given him. Each individual [should do so] according to his capabilities….”

The Rambam continues with a historical description: “Such was the manner of prayer from the time of Moses until Ezra. However, when the Children of Israel were exiled in the days of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, they were interspersed in Persia and Greece, among other nations. In these lands, children were born to them whose language became a mixture of many languages. When they wished to express their needs, they could not do so in any one language, as is written (Nehemiah 13:24), ‘Half their children spoke Ashdodian, and they did not know how to speak the language of the Jews. Similarly, the same occurred in each of the lands of their dispersal’ – they were unable to articulate a proper prayer to express their needs….

“When Ezra and his Beit Din saw [this state of affairs] they instituted for them the Shemoneh Esreh….

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Prayer And Its Origins (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
George Soros: No friend of Israel
Hillary: George Soros is NO Friend of Israel
Latest Judaism Stories
17th_of_Tammuz_(medium)_(english)

17th of Tammuz: Beginning 3 weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

With Ruth, The Torah seems to be stating that children shouldn’t be punished for the sins of parents

Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-prayer-and-its-origins-part-ii/2014/08/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: