web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Judaism Stories
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The Midrash is teaching a fundamental message of what it means to be a religious person.

Rabbi Sacks

Torah opposes slavery; G-d desires the free worship of free human beings, yet slavery’s permitted-?!

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

Approximately 18 years ago, my uncle called me into his office saying he had an urgent matter to discuss. I didn’t know what he had in mind.

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

An Explosion In The Trench
‘With A Glowing Hot Knife’
(Yevamos 120b)

Her first tactic was tefillah; she immediately began to recite one perek after another of Tehillim.

When a miracle occurs that transcends nature, Hashem has broken the laws of nature to create the miracle.

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

A strange midrash of fruit trees surrounding the Nation of Israel as they walked to freedom

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Approximately 18 years ago, my uncle called me into his office saying he had an urgent matter to discuss. I didn’t know what he had in mind.

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)

Vol. LXVI No. 3                           5775 New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME January 16, 2015–25 Teves 5775 4:36 p.m. NYC E.S.T.   Sabbath Ends: 5:40 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 6:08 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Weekly Reading: Va’era Weekly Haftara: Koh Amar Hashem (Ezekiel 28:25-29:21) Daf Yomi: Yevamos 104 Mishna Yomit: Kelim 17:2-3 Halacha Yomit: […]

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)

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: