web analytics
April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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


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 the mitzvah of prayer. They state that 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. Rather, they set the times of day for prayer.

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

Last week, we quoted the Rambam’s discussion of prayer in his Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Tefillah 1). He writes that we are required to pray daily, praising G-d and imploring him for all our personal needs, followed by words of gratitude for all He has given us. Since it is a positive precept that is not dependent upon time, women and slaves are required to pray.

Originally, there was no set wording or order to the prayers. After the Jews were exiled and interspersed among the nations, however, they no longer all spoke the same language, and many were unable to articulate proper prayers.

Hence, the Rambam writes, Ezra the Scribe and his beit din established a set text as well as fixed times for prayer. They organized the 18 benedictions of the Amidah (Megillah 17b-18a) and set two daily prayers to correspond to the two daily offerings in the Holy Temple. They also established a third prayer, Mussaf, for those days on which an additional sacrifice would have been offered in the Temple. Finally, they also established an optional evening prayer, called Arbit or Ma’ariv, which all of Israel ultimately accepted upon themselves as an obligatory prayer.

The Rambam also discusses the role of the sheliach tzibbur, which was established for those who could not recite the prayers themselves. The fact that a distinction was made between those who knew how to pray and those who did not is proof that some had memorized a text while others had not mastered it.

* * * * *

When one refers to tefillah – more specifically, the prayers one is duty-bound to say three times daily – one is really referring to Shemoneh Esreh, the 18 benedictions that constitute the Amidah, instituted by Ezra and his beit din. The Gemara (Megillah 17b-18a) explains the scriptural sources for each of the 18 benedictions and the reason for the order in which they are recited. A nineteenth benediction – “V’lamalshinim” – was added later by Rabban Gamaliel (II) Ha’Nasi due to slanderers and informers who sought to cause great harm to the Jewish people. As a result, Shemoneh Esreh actually includes 19 benedictions.

That the Amidah is the central focus of every prayer session is evident from the following halachot cited by the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 109:1): “One who enters a synagogue and finds that the congregation is praying the Amidah should act as follows: If he is able to start his Amidah and conclude before the chazzan reaches Kedushah or Kaddish [at the Amidah’s conclusion], he may pray. If [he can’t conclude in time], he should not start his Amidah.”

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 III)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Map of Gaza City rocket launcher sites in school yard. July 22, 2014
UN Admits: UN Schools and Facilities Used by Hamas Terrorists
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In her diary, Anne Frank wrote words that provided hope for a humanity faced with suffering.

Leff-042415

The Arizal taught this same approach, making the point that the Torah would never mention wicked people and their sins if there was not great depth involved from which we are to learn from.

Staum-042415

Humility is not achieved when all is well and life is peachy but rather when times are trying and challenging.

In order to be free of the negative consequences of violating a shvu’ah or a neder, the shvu’ah or neder themselves must be annulled.

“I accept the ruling,” said Mr. Broyer, “but would like to understand the reasoning.”

He feared the people would have a change of heart and support Rechavam.

Ramifications Of A Printers Error
‘The Note Holder’s Burden of Proof’
(Kesubos 83b)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

“What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” my husband remarked. “Well, baruch Hashem we are safe, there was no accident, and I’m sure there is a good reason for everything that happened to us,” I mused.

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

Myth that niddah=dirty stopped many women from accepting laws of family purity and must be shattered

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

Rabbi Fohrman connects the metzora purification process with the korban pesach.

The day after Israel was declared a State, everyone recited Hallel and people danced in the streets.

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

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: What if someone forgot to count sefirah Thursday evening but only realized after he finished davening Friday evening? The catch is that he accepted Shabbos early so that it is still light outside. Can he still count for Thursday evening and then count for Friday night with a berachah once it gets dark?

Pesach Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Question: What if a person counted the Omer but forgot to utter the blessing beforehand? Has he fulfilled his obligation? Incidentally, why do we recite a blessing for this counting but not for the “zayin nekiyim – seven clean days”?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a/2014/08/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: